Jacob Williams
Monday 28th June, 2021

Movement and plot-twist in pay-off probe

Movement and plot-twist in pay-off probe

There’s finally some definitive movement in Audit Wales’ probe into the unexpected and still-not-fully-understood 2020 departure of Pembrokeshire County Council’s chief executive, Ian Westley.

Since the start of this year the statutory auditors have been “examining the circumstances that led to” Mr. Westley’s departure, and “the circumstances surrounding him receiving a payment of £95,000 under the terms of a Settlement Agreement.”

JW understands that Audit Wales has got around to asking participants and contributors to its final report to run their eyes past things for accuracy, a process that the Cardiff-based body outlined over two months ago.

I’ve long been hearing that this publication’s findings – when it sees daylight – will be damning.

However the lengthy period of radio silence on this topic has naturally got the cynics wondering if it could possibly live up to this sort of hype.

When one public body investigates another, a fence-sitting analysis of the whys and wherefores, with ultimately no fingers pointed, is often the preferred way.

And the snail’s pace of this particular probe might fuel doubts that the auditors have uncovered questionable conduct behind closed doors as part of the unconventional Westley departure and pay-off.

Nonetheless, the rumour mill seems to be standing firm – saying that the hype is indeed justified, and that big news is coming.

Accordingly, revelations which are just about to reach the end of the pipeline will trigger a response not seen at County Hall since the end of the authority’s Bryn Parry-Jones era.

But an unusual twist could be on the cards.

The publication of Audit Wales’ highly-anticipated report is expected to be wildly overshadowed by a separate, directly-related upcoming turn of events.

It remains to be seen which will hit the fan first.


Share this...
Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

8 Comments...

  • William Bruce

    Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time, Jacob.

    You must be devastated at the coming loss of your favourite officers.

  • John Hudson

    I am waiting to hear about the plenary (complete and unqualified) powers the Leader was advised he has, presumably by legal experts.

    This does not seem to feature as a power delegated from the council in the authority’s constitution.

  • John Hudson

    The FoI response 11484, 10.6.2021, concerned legal department information:

    The total external spend for 2020-2021, which includes law firms, counsel and disbursements is £506,479.89.

    We may all draw comfort from the additional statements that while PCC do not hold a breakdown of this information, it uses a national procurement service.

    The 2020/2021 outturn monitoring report Appendix C – Budget Reductions (Page 56) throws some light on to the under-resourced legal department.

    I have not found any explanation as to how this £0.5m was funded.

  • Keanjo

    Looks as if Ian Westley may have a case against the council for wrongful dismissal and substantial damages.

  • John, in my earliest discussion last year of the departure (and pay-off) I identified the lack of clarity around ‘who’ approved the pay-off and departure (both separate but obviously linked.)

    This blurring of the lines, and use of ‘powers’ may well be a feature of the Audit Wales report – I just don’t know.

    Keanjo, good to see you’re back! Whilst I don’t have any information on the specifics to be expected in the Audit Wales report, or a crystal ball, I don’t anticipate your scenario.

    An external assessment from Audit Wales could identify matters that have a bearing on Mr. Westley’s assessments of the legal merits of such a claim, but I would think probably not.

  • John Hudson

    Jacob, not knowing anything about the detail, it seemed to me that the terms and amount of the leaving settlement were a pure staffing matter, but given the status of the CEO, should only have been determined by full council.

    Perhaps it is a question of due and proper legal process rather than outcome. This would raise questions about the advice provided by officers.

  • Flashbang

    Will we see a long justified return to Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column for PCC? They certainly deserve an ongoing guest appearance.

  • Malcolm Calver

    Keanjo, employee seeks redundancy which is granted, please explain how this becomes “wrongful dismissal”?

  • Have your say...