Homes auditor challenged

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The Independent Online
Conservatives on Westminster City Council have called for urgent clarification of councillors' legal responsibilities following the conclusion early this month of the "homes-for-votes" inquiry, writes Steve Boggan.

In a letter to the Independent today, the Conservative group challenges the decision of John Magill, the Westminster District Auditor, publicly to attack its housing policy even though it was carried out on legal advice. They have been prevented from speaking publicly until now by a silencing order under the Local Government Act. Nine of their colleagues, including Dame Shirley Porter, could face surcharges of millions of pounds for allegedly initiating a housing policy that favoured potential Tory voters.

The group will today hand in a letter to Mr Magill's office asking him to clarify their potential culpability when taking decisions approved by legal officials.

Simon Milton, deputy leader of the council, said last night: "If we ensure all our decisions are approved legally, yet an unelected arbiter can come along years later and surcharge or disqualify us, then there is something very wrong with our system of democracy."

Letters, page 18