SNP’s anger over chief executive’s refusal to release audit report

North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Paul Jukes
North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Paul Jukes

The chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council has denied he is suppressing information from the opposition SNP Group.

Police Scotland Police are looking into a complaint against council leader Jim Logue which follows criticism he held undisclosed directorships of companies set up by North Lanarkshire Leisure while he was chairman.

In an audit report to councillors the council’s head of audit inspection Ken Adamson questioned why No Limits Leisure Ltd and ESCA UK Ltd were formed and raised concerns about overseas trips by Councillor Logue.

No Limits Leisure was set up in a bid to boost income by providing services to other councils, while ESCA existed to pursue grants when North Lanarkshire was European City of Sport – neither are still in existence.

Councillors only saw a summary of the report and the SNP Group’s business manager Allan Stubbs complained his request to see the full document was refused.

This request was denied by council chief executive Paul Jukes after seeking advice from the council’s audit manager and head of legal and democratic solutions, who also suggested a Freedom of Information request was likely to be rejected.

Councillor Stubbs said: “I am deeply concerned the administration appears to be doing everything within its power to block us from seeing the full detail of this report.

“As the opposition on the council we have a duty to scrutinise the actions of the administration and we’re being prevented from doing so.

“By going to such lengths as involving the council’s lawyers to block the release of this report, it inevitably raises more questions about what exactly they are trying to stop us seeing.”

Mr Jukes claimed he was just following established practices.

He said: “I am disappointed at the implication that I, or any other officer of this council, is engaged in inappropriately suppressing information. Council officers act without fear or favour and are required to treat council business in an even-handed manner.

“A summary of the report has been made available publicly and to the Audit and Scrutiny Panel. The council has a long-standing practice of retaining investigative reports and I am satisfied that this practice should be maintained in this case.”

Councillor Logue, who is currently on holiday, has denied any wrongdoing and we understand he has had no direct contact with the police.