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LONDON CORPORATION INVESTIGATION FINDS BUILDING DEAL MALPRACTICE

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The Corporation of London gave written warnings to its direct labour organisation manager and three building survey...
The Corporation of London gave written warnings to its direct labour organisation manager and three building surveyors last month after a five month investigation into how more than £283,000 was paid to a single contractor without competition and in breach of the city's own standing orders.

Documents obtained by LGC show that in February this year City Chamberlain Bernard Harty began a secret investigation into allegations made to the building services department, writes Jake Arnold-Forster. The investigation found that in June Aspinall and Co was favoured by the DLO manager Robert Hills and between 1990 and 1993 they received more than 56%, or £283,883, of building work subcontracted by surveyors.

The report said £190,000 of this was spent on the corporation's police stations. One witness said this included Aspinall and Co fitting a sauna in Bishopsgate police station last spring, to spend £9,000 left over in the DLO's budget last year. The report also said the company was not on the council's approved list of contractors. Applications to join the list included as referees Mr Hills and a partner in the company.

Mr Harty's report found 'no direct evidence of corruption' but recommended further disciplinary action against Mr Hills. This prompted another investigation by Peter Snowden, assistant director in the corporation's department of building and services. His report found building surveyors John Reyers and Graham Jefferys deliberately broke the city's rules against awarding contracts above £10,000 to a single contractor without competition. It concludes Mr Hills favoured Aspinalls and bears 'the greatest responsibility for 'facilitating this excessive malpractice'. Director of building services Bill Row told LGC that his oversight of a major development of Mansion House meant he had little time for a possibly desirable review of all management systems when he joined the department two years ago. But he added:'When people ignore the rules that are laid down they have to be called to order'.
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