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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
film
Sport
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
football
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
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

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner - Night Shift

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A leading Leicestershire based chilled food ma...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant - ACCA, ACA or ACMA - Construction Sector

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - PR and Broadcast - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot