I know I have posted these links already, but what many people do not know is the full text of what I initially wrote up for the BBC. I reprint this below, as I sent it on Wednesday evening (i.e. before it was revealed that Mr Bett was paying back the money):
Frankly I am very surprised to be talking about this issue. I have worked with Stephen Bett: I know him to be a very experienced politician (a former senior Conservative Norfolk County Councillor and Chairman of the Police Authority) and he is very committed to getting good value for the money for the tax payer. I also assumed that the story about my PCC, Thames Valley’s Anthony Stansfeld and his interesting past travel expenses arrangements would have reached the ears of the Norfolk PCC. But it would appear not. Surprising, as I say.
This new case of, shall we call it ‘flexible working’, raises several issues for me:
- Perhaps the Home Secretary, or even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, might feel moved to write to all PCCs to remind them of their responsibilities towards the tax paying public?
- The Norfolk Police & Crime Panel might wish to reflect upon their scrutiny role: how did things get to this stage on their watch? (Indeed I wonder whether other panels around the country might now be looking a little more closely at the expenses claims of their PCCs & Deputy PCCs in the future)
- The Norfolk Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner is currently advertising for a new Treasurer. Perhaps it might be helpful to accelerate that appointment?
- And PCCs, perhaps some more than most, might find it valuable to spend a little more time comparing their practice with other PCCs around the country: learning about good practice to focus upon and what practices to avoid…
I set this down for the record.
Also for the record, I would add:
- I hope the Police & Crime Panel is now going to investigate this matter fully and will also be inquiring into the Deputy PCC's expenses as well (it is unclear from public records as to whether she has been doing similar things to the PCC or not).
- Paying back the money is not the end of the matter, as far as I am concerned. An independent audit at the very least is required if not an IPCC investigation.
- I remain curious about the advice that Mr Bett says he received and I have submitted an FoI inquiry to uncover this documented advice.
But I repeat again, I am genuinely surprised that a politician of Mr Bett's calibre should have got into this state of affairs.
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