A LAWYER who received a £50,000 “thank you” payment for his work negotiating the tram contract had to hand the money back after his firm voiced concern about it.
Andrew Fitchie, who was seconded by lawyers DLA Piper to work for tram firm TIE, told the tram inquiry chaired by Lord Hardie he thought he had been given clearance to accept the bonus, which was paid after the contract was completed in 2008.
The Evening News revealed earlier this year a leaded document suggested the money had been paid into Mr Fitchie’s personal bank account without his firm’s knowledge.
At the inquiry, Mr Fitchie was asked by inquiry counsel Jonathan Lake QC if it was not odd that he had received a personal bonus for advice that was being provided through his firm.
Mr Fitchie said: “It may be odd, but not exceptional.”
Mr Lake asked if the money should not have gone to DLA.
Mr Fitchie said: “I discussed it with DLA at the time my understanding was I had clearance to accept the bonus.
“I accepted it and I declared it in the usual way - declared it to the firm and declared it for tax purposes with the firm’s tax unit.”
But he said DLA had expressed “concern” about the bonus late in 2010 and there was an inquiry into what had happened, which led to the money being recovered.
“The outcome was that the personal bonus I received from TIE was put back out of my tax reserve account at DLA.”
Mr Lake went on to ask about an extra payment made by TIE to DLA for Mr Fitchie’s work.
“If there was a bulk purchase of your time how did it come about that you sought payment for additional time you spent on the project?” he asked.
Mr Fitchie said: “I approached TIE at the end of the secondment. and said this secondment has been covered off by monthly payments, however the bookable time for me as a DLA partner on this is a very large amount of time above the secondment.
“I discussed with TIE whether they thought that was fair in terms of remuneration to DLA Piper. We negotiated a fixed additional amount of £114,000.
“There had been a fixed amount per month on the basis of an eight hour day. I was working 13.5 hour days and TIE recognised that and were prepared to remunerate DLA Piper by reason of that time.”