Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scottish Borders Council ‘covered up’ MASSIVE PAYOUT for departing Chief Executive David Hume to avoid impact on Local Government elections in May

WHO PUSHED WHO ? Council Leader David Parker & Chief Executive David Hume before murky exit. THE controversy surrounding the departure of David Hume from his post as Chief Executive at Scottish Borders Council, reported earlier in the month by Scottish Law Reporter HERE continues unabated, after the member of the public who had been investigating the strange case of Mr Hume’s alleged ‘retirement’, which has now been revealed through the usage of Freedom of Information legislation as an apparently secret voluntary redundancy, has now approached the Local Government Minister for help in uncovering the true nature of Mr Hume’s exit from Scottish Borders Council, along with details of what is reckoned to be a massive financial payoff.

The individual who has continued his investigations on the strange case of Mr Hume’s sudden exit from Scottish Borders Council has told Scottish Law Reporter of ongoing correspondence between himself, the Information Commissioner and the Scottish Government regarding the murky situation of SBC’s Chief Executive exit last August 2011 and a continuing unwillingness by the Council to reveal any further facts.

Meanwhile the Southern Reporter, a weekly newspaper from the Scottish Borders, now reports the Council will finally announce Mr Hume’s payoff, sometime in July.

The FOUR MONTH delay, according to an SBC insider speaking to Scottish Law Reporter, is so that the release of the information including how much Mr Hume was paid out does not impact on the local authority elections coming up on 3 May 2012, in which the ruling Conservative & Liberal Democrat parties at SBC are expected to take a battering from the voters.

A Scottish Government insider told SLR “It would be a grave matter if Scottish Borders Council delayed publishing the information on Mr Hume’s exit to avoid an impact on the ruling parties chances in the upcoming Local Government elections.”

The Southern Reporter reports :

Ex-SBC chief’s pay-off will be revealed – in July

Published on Sunday 25 March 2012 18:47

DETAILS of the financial settlement which former Scottish Borders Council chief executive David Hume received when he unexpectedly left his post last year will be made public.

A spokesman at Newtown St Boswells confirmed this week that the local authority was required to publish the 59-year-old’s pay, severance and pension benefits in its annual accounts for 2011/12 which will be open for inspection in July.

But the council is still refusing to publish these details in advance and this week’s announcement has failed to placate the Borderer who, as reported last week, has twice unsuccessfully attempted to use Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation to get to the truth.

And the man, who does not wish to be named, has this week taken his complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner, claiming there has been a “cover-up” about the true nature of Mr Hume’s departure.

He has also written to Scottish local government minister Derek Mackay asking for an independent inquiry to be launched into the way his requests were dealt with, alleging the council had “lied” by stating in July last year that Mr Hume had retired from his £123,000-a-year post.

In his letter to the commissioner, the complainer alludes to a council press release, issued on July 1 last year, which stated: “After nine very successful years at SBC and following a change in his personal circumstances, David Hume will be retiring from his post as chief executive with effect from Monday, August 15, 2011.”

The complainer goes on: “On February 3, 2012, SBC replied to my [FoI] request, refusing to publish any information ... and refused to confirm my enquiry on whether Mr Hume retired or whether he took voluntary redundancy. On February 6, I asked SBC for a review of this decision and on March 7, following the review, I was told again the information would not be published.

“They did, however, confirm that Mr Hume did not retire as per the announcement in the original press release and that Mr Hume had taken voluntary redundancy.

“This is clearly a cover-up and the council has lied to the public and media.”

In his letter to Mr Mackay, the member of the public states: “I knew the SBC press release was full of false information and I knew Mr Hume had not retired.

“It cannot be acceptable for a Scottish council to lie to constituents, taxpayers and the media about the retirement of senior officials and cover up payouts of public money. The financial arrangements of voluntary redundancy are very different to those applied to retirement.

“We all deserve a full explanation about why SBC felt they needed to lie in a press release and cover up Mr Hume’s voluntary redundancy.”

Mr Hume has, as reported last week, been informed of The Southern’s request for a comment, but has still not contacted us.

An SBC spokesman said yesterday: “The decision of the council’s Freedom of Information advice group still stands. The council will be required to publish Mr Hume’s 2011/12 pay, severance and pension benefits in its annual accounts. The accounts will be open for public inspection in July 2012.

“Until then, it would not be appropriate for this information to be released for the reasons already stated.”

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