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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbrian council silent on contents of corruption probe report

Council bosses have received a report into alleged corruption within Allerdale council but have refused to reveal its contents “at this stage”.

Harry Dyke photo
Harry Dyke

An independent investigation was launched last month following a complaint by a local businessman.

The results of the investigation are understood to be with Harry Dyke, the council’s chief executive.

An Allerdale council spokeswoman said: “We have received the report and are considering its contents with a view to determining what, if any, action to take.

“We cannot divulge its content at this stage.”

The council has offered no explanation of why this information has not been made available despite several requests from the News & Star.

Previously the council refused to confirm details of the individuals involved amid claims that it could “prejudice the outcome of the investigation”.

In March, Councillor Mark Fryer, portfolio holder for economic growth, called for a full and independent investigation into claims which, “if substantiated”, would be “very serious indeed.”

They included “totally inappropriate behaviour towards a local employer by one or more council officers which may amount to abuse of office for personal gain”.

The claims, which centre on the business and conduct of the council across several departments, have been investigated by Cumbria County Council’s legal department at Allerdale council’s request.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Fryer said he had not seen a copy of the report, even though he was the one who had demanded it in the first place.

He said: “On August 1 I said ‘we are supposed to be having this report. I want it chased up.’ Until I saw the email from the News & Star I didn’t realise that they [the council] had received a copy. When am I going to see it? I’m the one who asked for it.”

Mr Fryer added that he now understood that the report was with Mr Dyke, who would decide what route to take next.

The local businessman whom the News & Star understands to be the complainant said he had not received a copy of the report either.

He said that Angela Harwood, of the county council’s legal and democratic services, who conducted the investigation, had told him that Allerdale council “should” send him a copy.

The probe involved interviews with several Allerdale council employees and focused on the conduct and behaviour of Allerdale council officers going back more than a decade.

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