Failed probe into ex-Cumbrian council boss cost £1m
Last updated at 12:04, Monday, 16 September 2013
A failed probe into former Eden council boss Colin Nineham cost nearly £1m and never reached any conclusion.
A review into why the investigation failed has been published after a judge threw out the case against Mr Nineham, his wife Linda and Ian Collingwood, who worked at Eden Community Recycling. It showed the four-year probe cost the taxpayer £415,000 in council costs and £528,000 for external services.
The report found the council underestimated the scale and complexity of the investigation, and should have sought police and CPS help. The case was dismissed after a judge ruled in May that it could not proceed to trial due to “an abuse of process” over the non-disclosure of some documents.
Mr Nineham, 54, was originally charged with 16 counts of dishonesty relating to alleged fraud concerning waste disposal and recycling credits over a 10-year period. Mrs Nineham, 44, and Mr Collingwood, 46, faced similar charges.
The county council committee responsible for ensuring it got value for money for the public, concluded there were a number of failings and vital lessons to be learned. Chairman Tim Knowles said the single and most important one was “the county council significantly underestimated the size, scope and complexity of an alleged fraud case of this nature”.
“It should never have attempted a prosecution without the relevant assistance and support from the police and the Criminal Prosecution Service,” he said. “This was beyond the normal scope of trading standards legal activity, who previously had a 100 per cent success rate in bringing successful prosecutions, and officers quickly found themselves swamped by the sheer magnitude of the investigation. We would never embark on a case like this in the same way again.”
He said the review found no evidence of any internal corruption or malicious behaviour from county council officers.
“On the contrary, a picture has emerged of officers doing their very best to manage an enormous and complex workload associated with the case, but ultimately failing to do so,” he said.
He said the £1m costs were due to the ‘huge scope’ of the investigation and the volume of documents associated with it. Mr Knowles admitted they had not delivered good value to the public.
Diane Wood, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, agreed with members to commission the review after becoming acting chief executive in May.
She said it was vital they learned from the case.
“One change that has already been implemented is that whenever the council now embarks on a major project, it ensures that it has a multi-disciplined team approach from the outset,” she said. “The defendants have neither been found guilty nor not guilty as the case never reached trial. Clearly, the county council did not manage the process well and cases of fraud are notoriously difficult to prove, but equally the council cannot allow itself to be defrauded.”
First published at 11:42, Monday, 16 September 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
- 'Deserters' leaving Carlisle to shop in Glasgow are harming city (23 comments)
- Cumbrian pub gets go-ahead for longer opening hours (15 comments)
- Ex-Cumbrian health chief says working across Border 'a breath of fresh air' (5 comments)
- Bus cuts across Cumbria loom in bid to save £1.3m (38 comments)
- Hospitals smoking ban goes too far, says Carlisle councillor (73 comments)
- Allerdale set to back Government proposal to sideline county council in nuclear store search (55 comments)
- Cumbrian beauty queen overcomes cruel internet bullies (10 comments)
- Carlisle dad fined for cycling with daughter on shoulders (45 comments)
- Major police operation in Carlisle area blighted by criminals (13 comments)
Court & crime
|NEWS & STAR ON:|