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CONGLETON OFFICER SUMMONED OVER TAKING HOSPITALITY

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A senior officer at Congleton BC has been summoned to appear before magistrates next month for alleged misconduct i...
A senior officer at Congleton BC has been summoned to appear before magistrates next month for alleged misconduct in public office.

The officer, who has not been named, was suspended from his job last week, pending his court appearance on 26 May and an internal inquiry into allegations concerning the receipt of hospitality.

The summons follows an 18-month investigation by the fraud squad.

A spokesman for the council said managing director Peter Cooper had suspended the officer on full pay in the interests of the authority and the officer concerned.

'The matter relates to the actions of the individual officer and not to the operations of the council. It in no way implicates other members of staff or members of the council and does not relate to fraud or corruption. It relates to the receipt of hospitality,' the spokesman said.

A Cheshire Constabulary spokeswoman confirmed that a 46- year-old man from Newcastle-under-Lyme had been summoned to appear before Crewe Magistrates' Court.

Congleton has endured a series of inquiries into its financial systems over the past few years. In June 1994 former chief executive Christine Pointer called in the district auditor to look into the system for claiming expenses but the auditor's report was not made public. Instead two investigation committees were set up to consider its findings in relation to director of resources Alan White and head of leisure services John Graham.

The first committee found that charges of gross misconduct and gross negligence had not been proved against Mr White.

He was subsequently reinstated but issued with a warning letter and a set of performance targets for him and his department. The second committee was unable to fully consider Mr Graham's case as he was suffering from stress and subsequently retired. Mr White had his written warning withdrawn in June 1995 after an all-party agreement that he had met all conditions set by a special investigating council. The move followed Christine Pointer's departure and Mr White's appointment as acting head of paid services.

The auditor's report, which was eventually published in February 1995, condemned the council for the way it dealt with a scheme for leased cars and expenses.

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