Northumberland council mistakes over international business 'could not happen again' insists legal chief

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Council officials have claimed that its involvement in an unlawful international business ‘could not happen again’.

Northumberland County Council’s participation in the Northumbria International Alliance, a healthcare consultancy operation selling expertise overseas, was deemed unlawful as it was run as an ‘unincorporated partnership’ for a commercial purpose, breaching the 2011 Localism Act.

A ‘lessons learned’ review was commissioned following the issue of a section 114 notice in the middle of a torrid spell for the council that saw a change in both political and officer leadership.

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Speaking on the implementation of the review, the council’s top legal officer Stephen Gerrard said: “I think it would be exceedingly unlikely for the arrangements that happened before to happen again. That was as a result of circumstances at the time – they’re now so different I’m happy to give my assurance that they could not happen again.”

Finance chief, Jan Willis, explained that any commercial trading undertaken in the future would be done so via a limited company.