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HALE HITS BACK AT AUDITOR'S REPORT ON UNJUSTIFIED PERKS

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Former Doncaster MBC chief executive Doug Hale has attacked the district auditor's report which says he failed to s...
Former Doncaster MBC chief executive Doug Hale has attacked the district auditor's report which says he failed to stop members helping themselves to unjustified perks.

In his first comments since its release, Mr Hale said he would lodge a complaint with the Audit Commission over the report, which did not take into account much of his rebuttal of the allegations.

'There's been a lack of willingness to accept my version of events. I would have taken great delight in stopping them from doing some of those things, had I known about them,' he said.

The findings from auditor William Butler name former leader Peter Welsh, former deputy Ray Stockhill, Mr Hale and former finance director John Smith.

The report says Mr Welsh and Mr Stockhill failed to declare hospitality, made foreign trips without identifiable benefit to the council and charged personal expenses to the council despite receiving an allowance to cover them.

It says Mr Hale took no action over internal audits which showed members overclaiming expenses, did not bring in controls despite being aware of the abuse and did not take proper legal advice on joint ventures with the private sector.

Mr Smith is also criticised for failing to bring in proper financial controls, particularly relating to the council's shareholding in a joint venture with Keepmoat Holdings Plc, Doncaster 2000 Ltd.

Mr Hale said Mr Smith had been unfairly treated, and his own responses to many of the points had been ignored or overlooked. Other senior officers helped cover members' tracks, he said.

He had made mistakes, he admitted, but his 'greatest mistake was trusting people'.

In presenting his report, Mr Butler said the level of involvement of the four warranted their being named, but it was not his intention to blame anyone else.

He said he would consider further formal audit action, but not before the police inquiry was concluded. The commission has not responded to Mr Hale's criticism.

Council leader Malcolm Glover said both the internal and auditor's reports showed up shortcomings, many of which had been addressed.

The council was yet to fully consider the report, published in December, but would act to ensure the 'highest levels of probity are maintained', he promised.

South Yorkshire detective inspector Rob Haworth said police would consider the report but it was still early days in their investigation. Three people were arrested before Christmas in relation to the inquiry but no charges have yet been laid.

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