Public Sector – Dame Shirley rocked by fresh audit report

A new audit report by Big Five firm Ernst & Young is set to condemn former Westminster council leader Dame Shirley Porter for her role in the homes-for-votes scandal.

The report, currently being circulated in draft form, will serve to refuel the row over the scandal after district auditor John Magill’s findings against the Tesco heiress were overturned two weeks ago by the Court of Appeal.

Dame Shirley Porter and her former deputy David Weeks were cleared by the court, which also quashed a surcharge against them.

Magill, a Deloitte & Touche partner, was accused by Dame Shirley of unfairness, mud-slinging and bias when he ordered her to pay a £27m surcharge for her part in the homes-for-votes scandal.

But the ten-year investigation – the longest in English local government history – is set to gather renewed pace following the revelation of the second investigation, this time by Ernst & Young partner David Chilcott.

The latest investigation is in relation to major works charges to lessees at Westminster City Council.

Chilcott’s report is reported to back Magill’s findings from the original inquiry and includes criticism of other leading members of the council.

An E&Y spokesman this week confirmed Chilcott had been appointed by the Audit Commission last year, but said it was ‘inappropriate’ to discuss the matter as the report had not yet been issued.

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