Roger Godsiff MP An apology

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OUR July "Sleaze" supplement reported that Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Small Heath, had been involved in a political controversy over anonymous allegations that he had helped people to jump the queue for home improvement grants of up to pounds 20,000, in an attempt to gain a political advantage when parliamentary reselections commence in inner-city Birmingham.

We accept that there was nothing whatever improper or unlawful in Mr Godsiff's advice to constituents that they were entitled to bypass Birmingham City Council's self-imposed queuing system of enquiries, which took no account of a person's need or condition of the property, and make a formal application for a mandatory house renovation grant entitling them to a statutory response within six months.

The allegations were investigated by the council's internal auditors as well as the District Auditor, who both found that Mr Godsiff's advice to constituents to bypass the system was perfectly legitimate.

An earlier report by the Local Government Ombudsman had criticised as maladministration the council's policy, which resulted in delays of up to four years for some applicants. Birmingham City Council has since scrapped its self-imposed system.

On the allegations that Mr Godsiff was seeking political favours, the District Auditor's investigations concluded: "We found no evidence to support the political allegations. Indeed, those making the allegations were unable to supply us with any hard evidence."

We apologise to Mr Godsiff for the inaccuracies and any implication of impropriety by him contained in our report. An agreed sum of costs and damages has been paid to Mr Godsiff.