During the audit of the OLC’s 2013-14 accounts, concerns were raised about the remuneration and expenses of the OLC’s Chief Executive. These concerns had also been raised with the OLC, Legal Services Board and Ministry of Justice who had started to look into them. Following questions raised by the NAO, the OLC and Ministry conducted a detailed review of the remuneration, expenses and benefit payments of senior staff since the OLC was created in 2009.
The review identified a number of payments which the C&AG considers to be novel and contentious and which were not retrospectively approved by the Ministry. This resulted in the qualification of the 2013-14 accounts on the grounds of regularity. Due to the contractual nature of the payments, the OLC have continued making payments during 2014-15 as follows:
- the payment of an extra-contractual ‘Total Remuneration Supplement’ to the Chief Executive and other senior members of staff (£33,236); and
- payments made under a Flexible Benefits Scheme to the Chief Executive and all members of staff (£210,444).
The Ministry determined that the Chief Executive was not a fit and proper person to continue to hold the position of Accounting Officer and his accounting officer delegation was removed on 8 January 2015. The failure to maintain a high standard of financial management in relation to his own expenses was a significant factor in this decision. He was suspended as Chief Executive on 19 November 2014. Following a disciplinary hearing, the Chief Executive was dismissed with notice, and his contract ended on 17 May 2015.
Following the year end, the OLC undertook a review of governance and financial controls which was completed in December 2015. It now has an action plan in place to address the recommendations of the review.