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£15k taxpayer cash used for judicial review

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 03, 2014

Uttoxeter councillor Andrew Riley

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THE full details of how much it cost council taxpayers to fight a judicial review launched by a councillor after he was ruled to have disclosed confidential information have been revealed.

A Freedom of Information request by Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths revealed that a total of £15,433.40 was spent by East Staffordshire Borough Council after Andrew Riley, who represents Uttoxeter, launched a challenge, which has since been dropped, after he denied revealing information surrounding the sale of the Carter’s Square car park in Uttoxeter.

This, coupled with the contribution of £6,000 from Councillor Riley and the local Labour group, meant that a total of £21,433.40 was spent on the failed bid.

Mr Griffiths said: “It is unacceptable that the council taxpayer in Burton should foot the bill for Councillor Riley and the Labour Party playing legal games and then abandoning them when they realised they would lose.

“This is money that could have been spent on public services, not wasted on expensive lawyers and legal vanity projects. Had Councillor Riley accepted his punishment thousands of pounds could have been saved rather than wasted on expensive lawyers.”

The case was dropped when Councillor Riley begrudgingly accepted a ruling that he disclosed confidential information after ‘spiralling costs’ meant the Labour group had to pull the plug on proceedings.

Councillor Julian Mott, leader of the council, said: “Upholding high standards inside councils is incredibly important.

“When claims are made, they need to be investigated which inevitably incurs costs. I appreciate the MP’s interest in this case and am quite willing to discuss the matter with him in the not too distant future.

“He should be aware that the council was under Conservative control when the settlement of costs was agreed.”

The council’s standards committee found Councillor Riley to be in breach of its code of conduct, but said it did not impose any sanction on him and had agreed not to publicise the findings.

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