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Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, reported to Parliament today that payments, amounting to £233,000, which the Public Health Laboratory Service Board made to certain members of staff in 2004-05 did not comply with Treasury guidelines.

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In the course of closing PHLS Media Services, the Board retained a small number of individuals after the closure of each production site to aid the decommissioning of equipment and management of residual business. Six employees were retained across the sites. In each case, they were due to reach a key employment anniversary between the closure of their site and the end of the financial year, and they were retained exactly until that anniversary occurred. Sir John was not provided with sufficient evidence that the individuals were gainfully employed in the period following the site closures. The Board incurred additional costs as a result of these retentions, largely due to the impact on pensions.


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