Huntingdonshire parish council acted as ‘judge, jury and executioner’

A PARISH council has been accused of acting as ‘judge, jury and executioner’ by its former chairman following a scandal in which �6,000 of taxpayers’ money was stolen by the ex parish clerk.

Upwood and the Raveleys Parish Council chairman Robin Howe last week revealed the results of an internal investigation into the fraud which was carried out by Jane Haggar while David Paine was chairman.

Mr Howe’s report said Haggar had been “inflating her monthly expenses by ever increasing amounts” by changing the names on cheques or writing her name on blank cheques that Mr Paine had signed.

Mr Paine, who resigned following the scandal, believes the council’s report unfairly accuses him of not carrying out appropriate checks, and added that he was not invited to give evidence or respond to the findings.

“As chairman I had to check the details on the cheques matched the information given to the council,” he said. “I would countersign the cheques in front of councillors who at any time could question the payments.”

He added that the council could also have changed the system at any time – as it now has – or opted to train councillors but it was put off by the cost.

An investigation by Cambridgeshire police found no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Paine.

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He added: “The council has in closed sessions decided to act as judge, jury and executioner without giving me sight of any evidence or permitting me an opportunity of response.”

A parish council spokesman said: “The report was a concise and accurate account of the events as they occurred. We have had one complaint arising from last week’s meeting.”

Haggar, 49, of Malthouse Lane, Ramsey, was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to 30 charges of fraud and one charge of theft.