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S NORTHANTS CHIEF SET FOR EARLY RETIREMENT

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South Northamptonshire Council will decide on Monday whether to offer chief executive Ken Whitehead an early retire...
South Northamptonshire Council will decide on Monday whether to offer chief executive Ken Whitehead an early retirement package worth£350,000 'in the interests of the efficient exercise of the council's function', LGC has learned.

The full council, lead by a joint Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent administration, will vote in a closed meeting on whether to let Mr Whitehead retire.

A council spokesman said: 'We cannot comment on the recommendation to council until a decision has been made.' He confirmed that the council was debating a proposal for early retirement, but would not say which officer it concerned.

The decision will be taken before the conclusion of an industrial tribunal case in which Mr Whitehead is accused of making false allegations against former deputy chief executive Keith Newton.

Mr Newton was summarily dismissed in July 1996. The reasons given by the council were that there was continuing animosity between the chief executive and his deputy, and that Mr Newton had taken a complaint about council officers and a council member to the police.

The industrial tribunal, due to conclude in early June, is the culmination of Mr Newton's 18-month battle to keep his job at South Northamptonshire. He is seeking reinstatement.

Mr Newton was suspended on full pay, along with his secretary, in October 1995. The secretary was subsequently reinstated. After a council investigation, in which Mr Whitehead was the principle witness, he was dismissed for gross misconduct in January 1996. In June 1996, after an appeal, he was reinstated. But he never returned to work because within a month members decided to dismiss him again.

Relations between the two began to deteriorate when Mr Newton was asked to prepare a report on the chief executive by the then Tory administration in 1993.

Mr Newton claims the chief executive commissioned a covert investigation of him in July 1995. In January 1996 Mr Newton made allegations about Mr Whitehead to the police, who found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Last week finance chair Philip Pettit told the tribunal that members were divided over how to deal with the situation, but eventually agreed that both should leave South Northamptonshire in due course.

Mr Newton, Mr Pettit and Mr Whitehead are unable to comment until the industrial tribunal concludes.

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