Police launch formal investigation into former LCC chief executive
10:00am Sunday 3rd November 2013 in NW
POLICE have formally launched an investigation into events leading to the suspension of former Lancashire County Council Chief Executive Phil Halsall. As well as probing his role in the tender process for the £5 million contract to run the authority’s fleet maintenance services, its is expected to examine the wider One Connect Ltd partnership between the authority and BT. It is understood that could include how David McElhinney, the former boss of One Connect, received two lump sums of £231,709 and £275,888 in June and July this year without the knowledge of county treasurer Gill Kilpatrick. She understood his salary was just £40,000 a year. A statement from Lancashire County Council yesterday said: "The county council can confirm that, in the light of external legal advice, a number of issues arising from the recent disciplinary investigation into the conduct of a senior officer have now been referred to Lancashire Constabulary. "The council will not be commenting further at this time." Detective Chief Superintendent Clive Tattum, the Hutton headquarters-based divisional commander for operations, which include the financial investigations unit, said: “The constabulary has received a referral from Lancashire County Council which outlines concerns in relation to a number of financial irregularities. We are at the very early stages of investigations into these matters and so it would be inappropriate to comment any further for the moment.” In August, Mr Halsall was suspended pending a disciplinary investigation by top London lawyer Tim Kerr. He resigned last month ‘by mutual consent’ and the internal disciplinary probe was dropped but the wider investigations into One Connect and tendering continued. Mr Halsall has described the allegations as ‘nonsense’. Former county Tory leader Geoff Driver said last night: “I would welcome a full and thorough investigation into all aspects of the contract with BT and for the results to be made public.” Mr McElhinney resigned from his job in September, three weeks before details of his £500,000 payments were revealed by Ms Kilpatrick to the county’s audit and governance committee. He officially worked two and half days a week for Lancashire and also received an unknown amount from a similar partnership between BT and Liverpool City Council called Liverpool Direct Ltd (LDL) for the rest of the working week. In September, the council started investigating how the payments from its bank account were authorised. Mr McElhinney resigned from his job in August. Neither Mr Halsall or Mr McElhinney were available for comment yesterday.