Second report made to police in ongoing row involving Northumberland County Council's leadership

A second referral has been made to police in the ongoing row involving Northumberland County Council’s political leadership and chief executive.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 7:32 pm
Cllr Peter Jackson and Daljit Lally.
Cllr Peter Jackson and Daljit Lally.

At the full meeting of the authority on Wednesday, September 2, Cllr Peter Jackson was removed as leader in a vote of no confidence, following chief executive Daljit Lally being put on ‘extended leave’ in August.

This came just after she emailed all 66 county councillors to flag up what she claimed were ‘significant whistle-blowing concerns’.

It is understood that Mrs Lally has been suspended and a formal disciplinary process started, but a council spokesman said: “She remains on a period of extended leave. We can make no further comment at this time.”

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This was followed by the resignation from the cabinet of deputy leader Cllr Wayne Daley and Cllr Veronica Jones, then Cllr Cath Homer last week.

Cllr Daley was one of three Tory rebels in the vote which successfully ousted Cllr Jackson from his position. Cllr Glen Sanderson, who replaced Cllr Daley as deputy leader, is now acting leader until a new leader is elected at the next council meeting.

Mrs Lally said in her original email to councillors that she had contacted police about some of her claims.

At the time, Northumbria Police confirmed it had received contact from an official at the council relating to Advance Northumberland, the council’s regeneration company, but could not add anything further as it had not yet discussed this correspondence with the individual. This week, the force said there was no update in relation to this.

In relation to Mrs Lally’s claims, Advance’s managing director, Ken Dunbar, said he was ‘surprised’ to see a reference to ‘significant concerns’ about the ‘well-run’ company, but that it would ‘thoroughly investigate if any significant allegations are brought to our attention’.

Other emails seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service suggest that a separate referral to the police has also been made on another issue.

Northumbria Police said it would not confirm or deny the contents or who the correspondence was from, but a spokeswoman said: “We can confirm on Sunday (August 30), we received an email regarding concerns at Northumberland County Council.”

This week, it also came to light that the sharing of some information in relation to allegations against Mrs Lally has led to a data breach.

A council spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a data breach has occurred in regard to expenditure and income for the Northumbria International Alliance project. This relates to a small number of current and former employees, as well as external partners involved specifically in this area of the business.

“We apologise for this error, which should not have happened under any circumstances. We are in the process of contacting all those involved, and have already reported this to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). A thorough investigation will be undertaken to ensure that this does not happen again.”

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