Public Sector – Repay Porter audit charges, Deloittes told

Deloitte & Touche has been urged to repay the £3m in audit fees that it made during the Westminster City Council homes-for-votes scandal and subsequent investigation by the district auditor, writes Ben Griffiths.

Last week, the Court of Appeal cleared former council leader Dame Shirley Porter and her former deputy David Weeks, after the longest audit investigation in English local government history.

Deloittes is reported to have charged Westminster £275 per hour for district auditor John Magill’s services. The Audit Commission charged all inquiry costs to local taxpayers and the commission is reported to have raised its fees to other councils in order to finance Magill’s court costs.

The Tesco heiress accused Magill of mud-slinging, unfairness and bias when he ordered her to pay a £27m surcharge for her part in the homes-for-votes scandal.

Appeal judge Lord Justice Kennedy, sitting with Lord Justice Schiemann and Lord Justice Walker, said Dame Shirley’s appeal would be allowed.

Lord Justice Walker calculated that Magill’s accounting was in error by £20m and the surcharge should have been £7m. But, since the surcharge was quashed, the sum is not required to be paid.

The case is likely to be the last of its kind as the government is considering a recommendation from the Nolan committee to abolish surcharges.

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