Fenland Tories suspend cabinet colleague after they refuse his offer to step aside pending police investigation

PUBLISHED: 18:26 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:26 12 December 2017

Cllr Simon King. Octavia Hill. (Con)

Cllr Simon King. Octavia Hill. (Con)

Archant

A Fenland councillor and cabinet member facing a police investigation over his expenses was suspended by the ruling Conservative group after his offer to step down was refused.

The decision to suspend Councillor Simon King of Wisbech followed our exclusive revelation that allegations of irregularities into his travel expenses had been passed to Cambridgeshire Police.

Tory group whip Councillor Mike Cornwell issued a late night statement on Friday saying that the decision to suspend his cabinet colleague “is in accordance with the rules and until the outcome of any investigations are known or six months whichever is the soonest”.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “We have received material relating to expenses from Fenland District Council. The outcome of a review of this material will determine whether a criminal investigation will commence.”

Cllr King re-paid £1,511.10 to Fenland Council on November 30 which he says is the “entire” amount of the alleged over payment; he admitted that some of his claims may have been for longer journeys than the shortest route but he argued that it wasn’t always possible to drive by the shortest route.

He said: “I am extremely sorry that this matter has escalated to the extent that it has become necessary for a formal complaint to be raised against me and the significant amount of officers’ time this matter has taken up so far.

“I accept that some of the claims may have been outside the officers’ interpretation of the terms of the members allowance scheme policy.”

But he did not accept “that mileage claims are properly limited to the shortest route in every case, for the following reasons - neither the policy or claim form state that the route must be the shortest route.

“It is notable that Fenland District Council has not made any request to me for repayment of any sums overpaid and has proceeded with the issue of a complaint,” he added.

He had repaid the amount of the alleged overpayment “to avoid any impression that I was benefitting improperly from FDC”.

He said: “To my astonishment and to that of my solicitors, this complaint has now been passed onto the police.

“I am completely innocent and my solicitors and I are confident I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.”

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