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Watson denies Audit Commission allegations

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Former Audit Commission member Jenny Watson has rejected anonymous allegations about her departure from the quango.

Ms Watson has written to The Times newspaper to deny a report it ran in September. She said she “was not ‘sacked’ either for incompetence or for any other reason”, and that the claim that she “begged” communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles to let her stay in office was “totally untrue”.

She said she responded positively to an initial approach by the commission about a further term of office, but had no dealings with ministers, special advisers or DCLG civil servants on the matter.

Ms Watson, who earned £14,358 a year for the role, would have served until the commission is wound up in 2012 had ministers renewed her appointment.

The Times reported that a “DCLG source” had said: “We are not having someone who built their career on incompetence continuing to milk the taxpayer. She is not fit for the role.

“The Audit Commission has lost its way and the last thing we need is someone like her on the board. We’ve had a bonfire of the quangos, now we are having a bonfire of the quangocrats.”

LGC has appealed to the Information Commissioner over the DCLG’s refusal to disclose whether Mr Pickles took legal advice over the potentially defamatory implications of the comments.

This article was updated on 16 May 2011 following a request by a third party

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