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Caerphilly seeks £1m after fraud charges dropped

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An MP has backed Caerphilly CBC’s call to be reimbursed more than £1m by the Ministry of Justice after fraud charges against its chief executive and two other senior officers were dropped.

Chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan, his deputy Nigel Barnett and head of legal Daniel Perkins were charged in February 2014 with misconduct in public office having earlier been suspended by the council.

Mr O’Sullivan and Mr Barnett were originally arrested in July 2013 after a probe by the Wales Audit Office questioned senior managers’ pay rises. Mr Perkins was charged later.

The charges were dropped last week after a defence application to a judge.

Council leader Keith Reynolds (Lab) said: “Many people will be extremely concerned and frustrated about the length of time this process has taken and the costs that have been incurred to date.

“There are serious questions to be asked of the CPS about the length of time taken and we will be seeking to recover the salary costs of the suspended officers which are now in excess of £1m.”

Caerphilly has meanwhile had to pay interim senior officers while maintaining the salaries of the suspended trio.

The town’s Labour MP Wayne David said, “It is disgraceful that the judiciary and the Crown Prosecution Service has allowed this case to drag on for so long. It has been nearly two and a half years since the arrest of the officers and during this time Caerphilly County Borough Council and its residents have been obliged to spend millions of pounds.

“I intend to raise it in Parliament and seek reimbursement from the Ministry of Justice of the millions which have been spent. It is outrageous that the failings of the CPS and the criminal justice system have cost a local authority so much money, especially at a time of public expenditure cutbacks.”

A council spokesperson said the three officers “will remain suspended while the council now deals with matter in accordance with its own procedures”.

The CPS has been contacted for comment.

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