Pounds 250,000 'paid for silence of executive'

A REDUNDANCY package worth more than pounds 250,000 for an executive of a government agency was alleged yesterday to have been paid for his silence about other irregularities with the use of public funds.

The chairman and chief executive of the Welsh Development Agency were questioned about the redundancy package by the cross-party public accounts committee, which is investigating irregular payments, including the hiring of women from a model agency. It follows a damning report by John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General, on irregularities at the WDA, the like of which one senior Tory MP said he had never experienced in 20 years as a politician.

Mr Bourn reported to the committee that in June 1991, the agency agreed an early retirement package for A C M Price, its international director, comprising: a gratuity of pounds 21,350; compensation of pounds 64,258; and a pension of pounds 10,000 a year for 15 years, which was worth about pounds 169,000, according to an actuarial report.

Mr Price left in February this year, aged 50, and signed a confidentiality clause.

Alan Williams, the Labour MP for Swansea West, said: 'That is a lot of money to buy silence.'

Philip Head, the WDA chief executive, replied: 'There was no question of buying silence.'

Mr Williams said later: 'It was a quarter of a million - the price for silence.'

The Comptroller told the committee that Mr Price was appointed international director after the WDA's American consultant on inward investment had been fired, and had taken furniture which cost the agency pounds 53,288 but was worth considerably less.

During 1991, the WDA also appointed Neil Smith as director of marketing. In November this year, Mr Smith, an undischarged bankrupt who had served three prison sentences for deception, pleaded guilty to seven charges of forging and using references and curriculum vitae.

While working for the WDA, he paid a model agency pounds 3,330 for promotional work. The committee was told that one Sunday afternoon, Smith invited 11 women from the agency to his hotel room to interview them about their suitability for a WDA advertising promotion.

Robert Sheldon, Labour chairman of the committee, said: 'How on earth did such people come to be employed by the WDA?' Mr Head replied: 'Mr Smith was a con man. We were conned.'

The Comptroller also reported on the payment by the WDA of a rural conversion grant for craft workshops of pounds 16,895 to Gwyn Jones, shortly before he became chairman of the agency. It was subsequently found that part of the workshops had been converted for residential use, and Mr Jones had to repay pounds 3,379.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£120 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: The Humanities Department of this ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee