RUSSELL GOODWAY made repeated personal efforts to stop Janet Jones completing her inquiry into the allegedly unlawful payments.
Her deposition to the High Court states, "The Council has sought to have District Audit (Wales) removed from the audit of the Council's accounts, which would have precluded me from commencing these proceedings. The Council alleged a 'fundamental loss of trust and confidence' and applied to the Audit Commission for the replacement of District Audit (Wales) with a private sector auditor. That application was made in a letter dated September 6 2002 from the Chief Executive of the Council to the Audit Commission and was supported by nine witness statements and two volumes of documents (over 1400 pages).
"The Council alleged, amongst other things, lack of competence, change of approach and prejudice on the part of District Audit (Wales). Although other issues were raised, the majority of the allegations made against District Audit (Wales) relate to the review of Members' Allowances and related matters that I have undertaken and my draft report in the public interest upon which the Council was consulted.
"... I have not been influenced, one way or another, in my decision whether or not to make a report in the public interest by the allegations made by the Council to the Audit Commission. Nor have I allowed those allegations to influence, one way or another, my decision to commence these proceedings.
"... In my view, it would set an unfortunate precedent if I were to decide not to issue a public interest report or I were to decide not to initiate these proceedings in consequence of the allegations that have been made.
"Pending further consideration of the allegations made on behalf of the Council, the Audit Commission has agreed to arrangements which retain District Audit (Wales) as the Council's auditor. The Audit Commission has confirmed my appointment as the auditor appointed to deal with Members' Allowances and related issues."
Later in her deposition, Mrs Jones states, "Mr Andrew Wood, the then Director of District Audit (Wales) has informed me that, on October 11 2001, he met with the Lord Mayor/Leader, Councillor Goodway, who was accompanied by (two council officers). At that meeting, the Lord Mayor/Leader complained to Mr Wood, amongst other things, about the conduct of the audit investigation into the scheme of Members' Allowances. Mr Wood further informed me that Councillor Goodway alleged that, in consequence, there had been a breakdown in trust and confidence between the Council and District Audit.
"I am informed by Mr Wood that, on October 17 2001, the Lord Mayor/Leader and the Chief Executive, met with Sir Andrew Foster, the then Controller of the Audit Commission, to make a similar complaint and to request a change of external auditor. I am informed by Mr Wood that the Lord Mayor/Leader and the Chief Executive were informed by Sir Andrew Foster that the Audit Commission Act 1998 is framed so as to ensure the statutory independence of auditors, allowing them to make their decisions free from external influences (including the Audit Commission and its Controller), but that there were procedures in place if Councillor Goodway and Mr Davies wished to complain.
"However, it was not until September 2002 that the Council made an application to the Audit Commission to have District Audit (Wales) removed from the audit of the Council's accounts."
That application is on hold pending the result of the High Court application made by Mrs Jones.