LETTER:Unwarranted claims of 'delay'

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The Independent Online
From Mr Neale Coleman

Sir: In her letter ("Intolerable Westminster delay", 27 June) Dame Shirley Porter says it is nearly six months since the last of the accountancy evidence on her behalf was submitted to John Magill, the Westminster auditor. This is not the case. Two months ago, those who raised the original complaints about the council's housing policies received evidence from two firms of accountants employed by Dame Shirley.

This evidence had also been submitted to Mr Magill on 4 April this year. This is enough to dispose of Dame Shirley's unwarranted claims of "delay" by the auditor (who is legally unable to respond publicly himself to set the record straight).

As your reporter points out (5 July), equally unwarranted is her suggestion that the auditor "sprung his accusations of wilful misconduct" on her only 18 months ago. A BBC Panorama programme in June 1989 broadcast in detail the matter subsequently investigated by Mr Magill. In the same month, detailed objections were laid before Mr Magill by myself and 10 other Westminster ratepayers. The accusations were then examined in a prolonged series of interviews by the auditor of Shirley Porter and others who were given every opportunity of putting their side of the story.

If, as it appears, Dame Shirley does not accept such criticism, she must produce evidence to the contrary. If these allegations of delays are unfounded, it is quite wrong that they should stand uncorrected.

The public has a right to know if they are true, especially as the prolongation of the enquiry may further add to heavy costs already the burden of Westminster taxpayers.

Yours sincerely,

Neale Coleman

London, W9

5 July