Heritage chief broke the rules

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The Independent Online
A former director of English Heritage who resigned after only 14 months breached rules on "the proper conduct of public business", according to an auditor's report covering the events leading to his departure.

Four main actions by Chris Green led to his hurried departure in July, Sir John Bourn, Comptroller and Auditor General, found: the letting of an advertising contract and subsequent cover-up of the circumstances, "inappropriate business expenses" and the purchase, by English Heritage, of office furniture from Mr Green. While these were relatively minor matters and did not amount to fraud, it was clear that Mr Green could not continue in the job after the allegations came to light.

The most serious issue was the fact that in April 1996 he hired an advertising agency to run a short poster campaign on the London Underground at a cost of pounds 161,000 without authorisation from the chairman and then tried to cover up the fact by writing a memorandum several weeks later which was back-dated.

He was involved in a "conflict of interest" over the purchase of furniture for his office from his flat in Edinburgh. Mr Green sold the furniture for use in his English Heritage office. The office services manager, having originally offered pounds 3,762.50 (62.5 per cent of the original purchase price) increased the offer to pounds 4,431 "having perceived that Mr Green was disappointed with the offer". The transaction was not cleared by the chairman.

The report also found that some overpayments had been made to Mr Green on his expenses, and that he had exceeded guidelines on the prices of meals for business contacts. However, he had paid for some meals out of his own pocket.

While Sir John's report is critical of Mr Green, the matters concerned are relatively trivial and most involve not having properly cleared things with the chairman, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, who sought legal advice as to whether Mr Green was "guilty of gross misconduct". Sources at English Heritage say the real reason for Mr Green's departure was a clash with Sir Jocelyn. "Sir Jocelyn is a very difficult man," one said. "There is a lot more to this report than meets the eye. There was something of a vendetta against Chris."

Another former employee of National Heritage said: "Sir Jocelyn likes to get his own way and Chris did not always agree with him."

Mr Green, 53, had previously had a highly successful 30-year career in the railways. He is now a consultant to Gibb Rail in Reading. He said last night: "I took responsibility for my actions by resigning last summer. I have the highest regard for the work and staff at English Heritage."