Wayne David, Labour MP for Caerphilly, is “very disappointed” with the response by the Government to his request for them to reimburse Caerphilly County Borough Council of having to pay the costs of its suspended staff while legal action was taken against them.
Mr David had secured a debate in Westminster Hall in the House of Commons on the huge cost to Caerphilly County Borough Council of having to pay the salaries of three suspended senior officers, while the legal action was taken against them.
Mr David highlighted the fact that the saga of the three officers’ suspension and the unsuccessful legal action against them dragged on from March 2013, when the Chief Executive was arrested, until October 2015, when the judge dismissed the case against the three defendants.
In the debate Wayne David pointed to the “catalogue” of legal mistakes and failings in the legal system, which led to such a saga. Mr David also stated that the total salary costs for the three officers who were suspended on full pay by the local authority, as they were legally obliged to do, amounted to over £1 million.
Wayne David asked the Government to consider reimbursing the local authority for these salary costs as the local authority should not bear any responsibility for the “failings” of the legal system and the resultant cost.
Mr David said, “It is totally wrong that Caerphilly Council have had to pay over £1 million to these officers because of the failings of the legal system. At a time of public spending cuts, Caerphilly Council can ill-afford to lose such a large sum of money. In effect, the people of the Caerphilly Borough are having to pay for the shortcomings of the legal system. This is wrong and I hope the Government will recognise this unfairness and foot the bill by reimbursing Caerphilly Council the salary costs they have incurred”.
The Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, replied on behalf of the Government. He had a great deal of sympathy for the case as set out by Wayne David, but he was unable to offer any hope that Caerphilly Council might be reimbursed for the costs they have incurred through no fault of their own.
Mr David said, “I am very disappointed. There were plenty of warm words from the Minister, but he offered no prospect of any financial assistance to Caerphilly Council. The council taxpayers of Caerphilly Borough have been obliged to pay over £1 million in salaries to the suspended members of staff. The trial of the three senior staff members dragged on for over 18 months and during this time they were suspended on full pay. The Government really ought to have recognised that in this special case the Council should be reimbursed for the costs of those salaries”.