No criminal investigation of council development company’s audit report

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Advance Northumberland is the county council’s development company.

Confusion surrounds the status of KPMG’s audit report on Advance Northumberland since January, when the council’s chief financial officer Jan Willis said it was the subject of an ongoing long-term police investigation – which Northumbria Police denied.

Ms Willis later admitted that was not the case and said the report would be shared with the police before being given to the audit committee.

The board has now confirmed the report will not be made public as it contains sensitive information – and insisted there was no attempt to mislead the audit committee.

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A spokesperson for the council said: “This is a forensic audit report on Advance and legacy issues which pre-date the establishment of Advance and which were commissioned from KPMG. It does not there was never any attempt to mislead the audit committee – it was a real one had been communicated to the police and could not be made public without their agreement.

“As Northumbria Police have confirmed that they have identified nothing in the report which would warrant a criminal investigation, the report has now been shared with the Audit Committee.”

Advance Northumberland was created to replace its predecessor Arch, following concerns over governance and expense.

However, in June 2021, board chief executive Daljit Lally raised new concerns about Advance in a report to the audit committee, warning that it had inherited some of its issues from Arch.

Ms Lally warned of “continuing weaknesses in governance” at Advance and problems with communication and “trust” between the company and the board – although at the time the company insisted on the that improvements had been made and that the leader of the council, Glen Sanderson – spoke more in a political capacity. only in the name of authority – defended the company.

It is understood that the audit committee received the report in a private session at last week’s meeting. Police have since confirmed the report was released to them last month and shared in full with councillors.

Northumbria Police have confirmed that an external audit report on Northumberland County Council’s Development Corporation contained nothing worthy of a criminal investigation.

A spokesman for the force said: ‘We can confirm that Northumberland County Council shared a report from KPMG with us on February 14 and subsequently we have not identified anything that would warrant an investigation. criminal.

“We did not ask that any part of the report be withheld.”

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