Welsh agency 'out of control for two years'

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FOR TWO years the Welsh Development Agency was a government body out of control. That is expected to be the conclusion of the Commons Public Accounts Committee when it publishes its report into events at the agency in 1991-92, later this week, writes Chris Blackhurst.

Sources close to the committee said they expected the report to be one of the most damning and hard-hitting documents prepared by a Commons Select Committee.

It will focus on:

How the WDA's former international director worked as a private consultant while on the WDA's pay-roll and left with pounds 230,000 redundancy;

Concorde and first-class flights by Dr Gwyn Jones, then chairman;

The appointment of Neil Smith, a director of marketing with three previous prison sentences for deception, and his private interviews of women from a Cardiff model agency to staff WDA stands at trade fairs;

Senior staff being paid for their private petrol usage;

Redundancy payments totalling pounds 2.2m which were not approved or did not need to be made.

The report is understood to have been made especially tough by the presence on the 15-strong committee of three Welsh MPs.

They are believed to have insisted on the insertion of paragraphs condemning the Welsh Office.

Dr Jones left the WDA last week. Private fiefdom, page 2