No police investigations after political row

No investigations are taking place following two police referrals during the row between Northumberland County Council’s political leadership and chief executive.

Monday, 9th November 2020, 9:00 am
Daljit Lally, chief executive of Northumberland County Council.

The issue blew up publicly when Daljit Lally emailed all county councillors with what she claimed were ‘serious whistle-blowing concerns’ as she was placed on ‘extended leave’ in early August.

The fallout saw three cabinet members, including the deputy leader, resign before Coun Peter Jackson was ousted as leader by a single vote in a motion of no confidence.

Following a staffing appeals committee behind closed doors, Mrs Lally has now resumed her role at the council.

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Preliminary findings by an independent consultant found no evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs Lally, but it has been underlined that the investigation process has not yet been completed.

Widely believed to have been suspended, it is understood that the council constitution prevents this period from lasting any longer than two months.

As part of her initial email to councillors, Mrs Lally reported that she had contacted Northumbria Police, with the force confirming that it had ‘received an email from an official at Northumberland County Council in regard to Advance Northumberland’, the council-owned regeneration company.

However, a spokesman said this week: “We can confirm that we are not investigating any matters in relation to Advance.”

In an email to fellow Conservative councillors in the aftermath of Mrs Lally’s claims, Coun Jackson also said that he had referred some matters to the police.

At the full council meeting where he was ousted as leader, he said that ‘we have just discovered in the international business that there is the real possibility that it’s been operating illegally under the terms of the Local Government Act 2011’.

Some of the details of the email Coun Jackson sent about the NHS Northumbria International Alliance – which was launched in March 2018 by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumberland County Council – were later published elsewhere in the press.

This prompted the local authority to ‘strongly refute any allegations or wrongdoing made as part of this data breach’, adding that the ‘information provided to the former leader of the council has been entirely and wholly misinterpreted’.

A Northumbria Police spokesman had previously confirmed the force had ‘received an email regarding concerns’ at the council, but this too has led nowhere.

“We can confirm we have reviewed the correspondence in question and deemed there is no evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” he said.