Payouts for staff in homes-for-votes row

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The Independent Online
A FORMER Tory MP and other leading figures implicated in the Westminster council "homes for votes" scandal are set to receive more than pounds 700,000 to cover their legal bills.

Ministers were reported to be "furious" yesterday when it emerged that three councillors and four council officers linked to the affair would be compensated by the Tory authority. The seven men were criticised by the district auditor for their involvement in thescandal, but were cleared of any wilful misconduct.

Under a report to go before a private meeting of Westminster council tomorrow night, they could receive up to pounds 165,000 each. Tesco heiress Dame Shirley Porter, could also be paid up to pounds 1m from public funds if she wins her appeal against a pounds 27m surcharge imposed on her.

The council's Labour opposition yesterday called on the district auditor to investigate the plan to reimburse former Tory councillors Barry Legg, Alex Segal and Miles Young and the officers.

The report recommends that Mr Legg, who became Tory MP for Milton Keynes before losing his seat at the last general election, should receive pounds 165,000. Mr Young, a former leader of the council, and Mr Segal should get pounds 80,000. The former managing director of the council, Bill Phillips, will be offered pounds 101,000. A staff association that represented three other officers will be offered pounds 350,000.

A seven-year inquiry found Westminster's former leader, Dame Shirley Porter and her former deputy, David Weeks, guilty of operating an illegal policy of selling flats in marginal wards to potential Tory voters instead of housing the homeless. However, the other councillors and officers were cleared of the most serious charges and now believe that they are entitled to compensation. Ministers turned down similar requests from two councillors this year.