Thursday, 24 October 2013

Phil Halsall leaves role as chief executive of Lancashire County Council

The employment of Lancashire County Council's chief executive, Phil Halsall, has been terminated by mutual consent following an investigation into possible large-scale corruption at the heart of the County Council. The outcome of the investigation is not yet known.

Mr Halsall joined the county council in 2009 as executive director of resources and took up the role of chief executive in 2011, but in August he was suspended from work pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation.

His leaving comes after an investigation was launched into how a fleet maintenance contract was given to BT, which runs Lancashire's One Connect IT network, as it does the very similar 'Liverpool Direct' (LDL) contract awarded when Mr Halsall was Finance Director for Liverpool City Council.

Part of the disciplinary investigation that was being conducted into Phil Halsall also focused on who authorised payments of more than half a million pounds to LDL boss David McElhinney, who was also acting as chief executive of One Connect. The payments were made without the knowledge of Lancashire’s county treasurer Gill Kilpatrick and were referred to Lancashire Police when they came to light.

According to the Liverpool Echo,  former county Tory leader Geoff Driver, the man behind the One Connect deal to save £400m over 10 years, disputed the need to reveal the payments. However Ms Kilpatrick said government rules on disclosing executives’ salary left her no choice but to reveal them publicly.

Mr Halsall said, "The decision to leave has not been an easy one. I want to take the opportunity to say how much I have enjoyed my time in Lancashire."

The Leader of Lancashire County Council, Jennifer Mein said, "I would like to take this opportunity to wish Mr Halsall the best of luck for the future."

VL has asked Lancashire County Council to comment on the current status of the investigation into Mr Halsall, into the BT/One Connect tendering process and into the payments made to Mr McElhinney and we await their response.

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