Renfrewshire Provost and Councillors under investigation

A Provost and four councillors are being probed by the Fraud Squad over alleged inconsistencies in their expenses claims. Detectives have submitted a report to prosecutors over sums of money paid to Renfrewshire leader Ronnie Burns and his colleague Celia Lawson.

According to the Sunday Mail, the police are also examining expenses claimed by depute leader Tommy Williams, Mark Macmillan and SNP group leader Derek Mackay.

The investigation was sparked by retired businessman Tom Gatley, 66, who used freedom of information laws to obtain all 40 Renfrewshire councillors' expenses sheets since 2000.

Mr Gatley studied 7000 documents and claims he found disturbing evidence of over-claiming. All councillors are entitled to legitimate expenses but police are probing allegations that some made fraudulent claims. Mr Gatley claimed that the documents show that Provost Burns claimed for car mileage on consecutive days - although he has access to an official Jaguar. He also claimed expenses for meals when official meals were provided.

Another example allegedly shows that Tommy Williams' expenses sheets claim he worked on council duties for at least 11 hours daily - entitling him to a £23.52 allowance a day. But he also had a full-time job as a Glasgow City Council social worker and duties sitting on health board meetings. Gatley said: "It would appear that some councillors defy not only the laws of the land but also the laws of physics by being in two places at one time."

He has also handed police evidence against Councillor Macmillan, former son-in-law of ex-MP Irene Adams. Macmillan is accused of claiming meals while conducting fulltime council duties when he was working for the then MP.

Last night all of the councillors accused Gatley of conducting a long-running witch-hunt. Councillor Mackay said: "I and my colleague Celia Lawson were reported to the Standards Commission over expenses claims and they found no irregularities."

Fraud squad probe council bosses: Whistleblower claims Provost and pals filed dodgy expense claims (The Sunday Mail, 15 October 2006)


Anonymous said...

This man Gatley is a complete nutter who is in danger of wasting the opportunity of FOI through his repeated nonsense allegations that are all investigated and NEVER result in any wrongdoing being established.

It is people like him that will result in FOI being restricted because of wasteful misuse and ever increasing costs.

He likes his name in the papers and you don't need a FOI to find that out!