Doncaster council chief suspended

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Doug Hale, the chief executive of Doncaster Council, has been suspended on full pay while an investigation into allegations of fraud by the District Auditor and police, continues.

The Labour-controlled council first came to prominence in January when the district auditor, Gordon Sutton, revealed that he was concerned about foreign trips and expensive "working lunches" taken by councillors and some officers.

The council's leader and deputy leader, Peter Welsh and Ray Stockhill, resigned in March, but this is the first time that any of the authority's officers have been affected by the inquiries.

Mr Hale has been chief executive of Doncaster for six years and was formerly married to Rita Hale, one of Britain's foremost experts on local government finance.

While the police investigation was initially focused on councillors' overspending, it has recently widened to look at land deals, the granting of planning permission to developers and the allocation of contracts by the council.

The council last night confirmed Mr Hale's suspension and said: "The scale of the inquiry has yet to be finalised, but we will look at all possible areas of the management of the council."

Alf Taylor, the director of education, has been appointed as acting chief executive.