Fringe Box



Confused Messages Over Police Role in GBC’s Fraud Investigation

Published on: 9 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 11 Dec, 2023

By Martin Giles

Surrey Police’s role in Guildford Borough Council’s investigation into a £multi-million overspend and posssible fraud was thrown into doubt by an email from the appointed investigating officer at Reigate Council to one of the interim officers whose contract was suddenly terminated.

See also: Sacked Contractors Complain of Slow Progress in GBC Investigation into ‘£16m’ Overspend

The sacked officer, having aready contacted the investigator and volunteering to be interviewed, asked for a name of a police officer to whom he could make his request. Wishing to protest his inocence, he is frustrated that three months after his dismissal no on has spoken to him.

See also: Cllr Bob Hughes on the GBC’s HRA Investigation

Surrey Police were said by GBC to be involved in the investigation, as mentioned in news reports on November 22 and since, but the investigator at Reigate Council denied Surrey Police”s involvement.

The email from the investigating officer at Reigate & Banstead Borough Council to one of the sacked interim officers.

Given this information, The Guildford Dragon went back to Surrey Police asking for confirmation of their role. On Tuesday, December 5 a Surrey Police spokesperson responded: “To confirm, our position remains as we have set out in our previous response to you: we have been contacted by Guildford Borough Council in relation to this matter.

“We are working with the borough council to understand the nature and scale of the circumstances involved and cannot comment any further at this time. We will provide an update as soon as we are able to.”

So The Dragon went back to the investigating officer at Reigate asking for an explanation of the discrepancy, copying our request to GBC.

Meanwhile on Thursday, (December 7) the sacked interim officer wrote to a detective sergeant he had been told had been allocated to the case: “I will happily present myself at your police station or another of your choice to answer any questions you have as I have nothing to hide and strenuously refute any allegations Guildford Council may have made.

“We (others dismissed and suspended) have offered continuously over the last 3 months to answer any questions or concerns anyone has…”

The Surrey officer responded the same day to say that the police were liaising with GBC to “discuss their concerns” but were not “at this point actively investigating”. He added that he had no idea about the “timescales” but could understand the frustration. There was no mention of the Reigate investigator’s involvement.

Email from Surrey Police

Yesterday (Friday, December 8) a spokesperson from the Reigate & Banstead Council responded to The Dragon. Their statement failed to explain the apparent discrepancy over police involvement saying only: “We can confirm that the Council’s services have been engaged by Guildford Borough Council, however it would not be appropriate to comment further at this current time.”

And GBC also failesd to explain the email from the Reigate investigator denying police involvement. A spokesperson said: “We’re facing a complex situation in our housing service and are in contact with the police in relation to this matter. We’re working with them to better understand the nature and scale of the circumstances involved and cannot comment any further at this time. We will provide an update as soon as it is appropriate and permissible to do so.”

In response, The Dragon has repeated an earlier question: which organisation is leading the investigation? A response is awaited.

The council’s leader, Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough) is on record saying that GBC would continue working with external authorities to deal with the matter “efficiently and thoroughly”.

See: Call for a Special Committee to Oversee Council’s Fraud Investigation Rejected



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Responses to Confused Messages Over Police Role in GBC’s Fraud Investigation

  1. John Redpath Reply

    December 10, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    I really do feel for those accused that the shakey leadership of the council appears to be misfiring and causing them a huge amount of hardship and stress.

    If some or all of these individuals are innocent and yet have become tarnished by this “investigation” then I can see a very expensive claim against GBC for defamation of character and possibly other losses made by the individuals suspended or sacked.

    What on earth is going on at our borough council? Surely after three months GBC, Reigate council or the police must have enough information to at least inform us they are to move forward on this case?

    If not, then maybe it’s time to say “sorry, we got it wrong”. To leave what may be perfectly honest and upright employees and contractors on the hook for this long is nothing but a disgrace.

    The council should action their charges against those accused or get off the pot!

    John Redpath is a former R4GV borough councillor.

  2. Craig Young Reply

    December 13, 2023 at 12:30 am

    Well said by John Redpath.
    The arrogance of Ms Susan Sale of Guildford Council is demonstrated in her own words which I quote below.

    Susan Sale – “The Council does not owe you any explanation about the termination of your placement”

    This is how contract workers are treated by a senior Director at Guildford.

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