Merton Council Probes 'Whistleblower' Claims

External audit will investigate allegations

An investigation has been launched by Merton Council after claims made by a 'whistleblower'.

The claims are believed to centre on payments being made for work by temporary consultants, when it could have been done by permanent staff.

Ged Curran (left), Council Chief Executive, said: "The council has a robust whistleblowing policy to ensure there is a culture of transparency in the organisation.

"I am aware of the allegations and have instructed external auditors to carry out a full investigation."

It is understood that Ernst and Young will be carrying out the audit, and a preliminary investigation has already started. This will take up to three weeks, when a report will be published for the council's General Purposes Committee.

Leader of Merton Conservative Group, Councilllor Oonagh Moulton, said: "Conservative councillors are very concerned at the serious nature of these allegations. Residents and council taxpayers in Merton rightly expect the local authority to be a responsible guardian of the money which it manages.

"At the earliest opportunity I raised this matter with the Chief Executive, Ged Curran, and called for an immediate and independent review.  I expect the allegations to be thoroughly investigated and reported back to Members of the Council. 

"If wrongdoing is found to have occurred, then the consequences for the reputation of the named officers, the political leadership of the council and the authority would be severe.  However, it is vital that the principle of innocent until proven guilty is maintained."

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November 21, 2013