Midlothian fraud probe uncovers £2.1m payment

Midlothian Council headquarters, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.
Midlothian Council headquarters, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.
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A FRAUD investigation has found Midlothian Council awarded £2.1 million worth of work to a contractor not on the approved list.

The internal probe followed serious allegations by members of staff about suspected irregularities relating to roads contract management.

A confidential report of the findings from the council’s internal audit and corporate fraud team has been sent to Police Scotland.

And recommendations on tightening up the council’s procedures will be considered at a special meeting of the audit committee on Tuesday.

The council report said: “It was discovered that payments had been made to a contractor not on the procurement framework and this amounted to £2.1m over a period of seven years. No allegations were made relating to work not being carried out or subject to inflated invoices.”

It also noted that during the investigation, “a senior manager resigned and is no longer employed by the council”.

A second phase of the probe will include a detailed analysis of spending on services and what work is done.

Council chief executive Kenneth Lawrie said: “I am, along with senior colleagues, absolutely determined that we will get to the root of these issues. There can be no place within the council for poor practice, wrongdoing or impropriety. We have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to this and will act robustly to tackle and resolve it, taking all further actions which may be necessary.”

The council is urging anyone concerned about the misuse of council resources or inappropriate practices to report them to the council’s confidential whistleblowing hotline: 0131 271 3572/3573 or email: internalaudit@midlothian.gov.uk