#Expensesgate Fenland councillor Simon King to stand down at May election following behind the scenes pressure

PUBLISHED: 17:12 04 February 2019

Cllr Simon King at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall on Wednesday, October 31. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

Cllr Simon King at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall on Wednesday, October 31. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

HARRY RUTTER

Disgraced councillor Simon King – suspended from the ruling Tory group at Fenland Hall over an expenses scandal – will not stand for his Wisbech seat in the May local elections.

Cllr Simon King at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall on Wednesday, October 31. Picture: HARRY RUTTERCllr Simon King at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall on Wednesday, October 31. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

Cllr King, who remains a Conservative county councillor, was banned by his colleagues on the district council from attending private policy making meetings for six months.

The council’s conduct committee found the case against him proven and he was issued with a formal reprimand.

However with local elections due on May 2 and Cllr King’s membership of the group not to resume until the following week, he has decided to call it a day rather than face the internal row that had begun to simmer.

Many – including MP Steve Barclay – were unhappy that the Conservative Party’s sanctions against Cllr King did not go far enough and speculation had emerged that senior regional officials were about to intervene. Under party rules it was possible they may have forced the local Conservative association into re-selecting a candidate for the Octavia Hill ward in Wisbech where Cllr King polled 914 votes four years ago.

Cllr Simon King, right, at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall, March, last October.  Picture: HARRY RUTTERCllr Simon King, right, at his conduct hearing at Fenland Hall, March, last October. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

With Cllr King now having decided to stand down, Tories will be looking for another candidate to share the ballot paper with town council leader Samantha Hoy, who topped the poll in 2013.

Following last year’s conduct hearing many councillors expressed concern about the public’s perception of councillors and their expenses claims.

The hearing stemmed from a major investigation commissioned by the council after a provisional report found he had a case to answer when false mileage claims came to light.

His mitigation – that included his lawyer claiming “we’re not talking mansions in Mayfair or lining his own pockets’ – fell on deaf ears.”

His lawyer Mike McGee said: “He was not off on jollies or freebies; he was seeking reimbursement for expenses he genuinely incurred.”

Cllr King told the hearing he felt he had been singled out but the meeting noted no other councillors seemed to have problems with claims.

Expenses queried include claims for travelling from Rugby Leicester and Swaffham to Fenland Hall and a 10 mile journey from his Wisbech home to a meeting five minutes walk away at the Boat House.

Another was for 71 miles instead of 32 because he claimed from a dental appointment in Peterborough to a council meeting

He also claimed for a journey from Wisbech to Huntingdon rail station and a train ticket to London and back to FDC.

Cllr King repaid £1,500 to the council prior to the conduct hearing.

He declined our invitation to comment his decision.