Bid to claw back 'unlawful' pension cash from Pembrokeshire County Council chief executive

Western Telegraph: County Hall, Haverfordwest County Hall, Haverfordwest

ANY decision to retrieve money paid to the chief executive of Pembrokeshire County Council as part of controversial pension arrangements would lead to 'complex and lengthy' court proceedings, councillors have been warned.

Five councillors have submitted a notice of motion calling for the council to investigate the recovery of monies paid to chief executive Bryn Parry Jones, and one other as yet unnamed senior officer, as part of 'a pay supplement scheme'.

A public interest report published in January and by an auditor from the Wales Audit Office found that a decision to allow the scheme, where senior officers could opt out of the Local Government Pension Scheme and receive a payment equivalent to the employer's pension contribution instead, was 'unlawful'.

The council's head of legal and committee services, Huw Miller, will present a report on the matter to councillors at an extraordinary meeting of the full council today (Thursday) morning.

In it he says that just because the auditor says the decision was 'unlawful' does not mean it could be proved to the satisfaction of a court when it came to getting the money back.

"The term 'unlawful' used by the appointed auditor, is a determination in the context of the financial accounts," Mr Miller tells councillors. "The view expressed by the appointed auditor is not a definitive statement of the position of the law."

He goes on to say that lawyer Tim Kerr QC, employed by the council to look into the matter, 'did not consider that the decision was intrinsically unlawful'.

"There was no suggestion in the public interest report that any misconduct had been committed by anyone," said Mr Miller.

"The report also did not contain any allegation of activity of a criminal nature by any individual."

He tells councillors that the auditor had not made a recommendation that the money should be recovered and says it does not automatically follow that the council would be able to recover the payments. Specialist legal advise on the merits of pursuing it would be needed.

But he says the advice has already been given, as Mr Kerr told the council in February that the council was not bound to consider the return of monies already paid to any senior officer, because the officer was likely to have a defence of 'change of position' - them having left the Local Government Pension Scheme to make alternative arrangements.

"In the unlikely event that the council is now advised that recovery action could be taken, it would be necessary for legal proceedings in the civil courts for the recovery of the money," he says, adding that in court it would have to be proved that the decision was unlawful and detailed consideration would be given to all the issues including any defences on why the officers should keep the money.

"Even if advice is now received to the effect that recovery proceedings could be take, it would be impossible for any certainty to be given as to the likelihood of success in such proceedings. It is likely that any such proceedings would be complex and lengthy."

In the financial year 2012-13 the council paid out £22,269 to the chief executive under the scheme.

The last payment made to both officers was in January this year, bringing the total for the financial year 2013-14 to £23,337. Payments made were taxed at 40% and also subject to the payment of Naitonal Insurance contributions, councillors have been told.

The call to investigate recovering the money has been submitted by councillors Paul Miller, Mike Stoddart, Anthony Wilcox, Rod Bowen and Jacob Williams.

Comments (15)

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10:29am Thu 1 May 14

Flashbang says...

What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi
an.com/politics/2014
/apr/30/guardian-foo
tage-police-taser-na
ked-man-lee-birch
What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi an.com/politics/2014 /apr/30/guardian-foo tage-police-taser-na ked-man-lee-birch Flashbang
  • Score: 3

12:28pm Thu 1 May 14

Dave Edwards says...

Unbelievable - 21 councillors voted not to try and recover the unlawfully paid money. List to fllow.
Unbelievable - 21 councillors voted not to try and recover the unlawfully paid money. List to fllow. Dave Edwards
  • Score: 12

1:32pm Thu 1 May 14

Bilbo101 says...

It is just not the pension money that should be clawed back but also the legal fees in defending a non-defendable and illegal decision. In addition this Chief Exec has been awarded a grossly inflated pay and benefits package that was approved by our incompetent councillors and whilst this cannot be clawed back it should be stopped now to prevent more unnecessary wastage of our council tax money.

The chief exec is the highest paid in Wales yet runs one of the smallest councils with one of the highest incidents of problems resulting from poor leadership. It seems this guy is rewarded for poor performance and attendance. He has never had it so good, it does not matter how bad things get our councillors continue to support his greed. Whilst many of the hard working staff at PCC have seen their hours and salaries cut resulting in severe hardship for many and we have seen our services cut and downgraded yet Mr Untouchable and his yes men have had pay increases. In fact things are going so well for Bryn that he has recently treated himself to a £89,000 new Porsche using the incredibly generous car allowance that our Councillors approved.
It is just not the pension money that should be clawed back but also the legal fees in defending a non-defendable and illegal decision. In addition this Chief Exec has been awarded a grossly inflated pay and benefits package that was approved by our incompetent councillors and whilst this cannot be clawed back it should be stopped now to prevent more unnecessary wastage of our council tax money. The chief exec is the highest paid in Wales yet runs one of the smallest councils with one of the highest incidents of problems resulting from poor leadership. It seems this guy is rewarded for poor performance and attendance. He has never had it so good, it does not matter how bad things get our councillors continue to support his greed. Whilst many of the hard working staff at PCC have seen their hours and salaries cut resulting in severe hardship for many and we have seen our services cut and downgraded yet Mr Untouchable and his yes men have had pay increases. In fact things are going so well for Bryn that he has recently treated himself to a £89,000 new Porsche using the incredibly generous car allowance that our Councillors approved. Bilbo101
  • Score: 9

1:38pm Thu 1 May 14

Gogledd says...

its a joke...an absolutely unbelievable joke. ....I dispair....its a mockery of justic a mockery of everything....if any other person tried to do this they would be in jail for fraud, theft and a few more things thrown in for good luck...
its a joke...an absolutely unbelievable joke. ....I dispair....its a mockery of justic a mockery of everything....if any other person tried to do this they would be in jail for fraud, theft and a few more things thrown in for good luck... Gogledd
  • Score: 10

1:40pm Thu 1 May 14

Gogledd says...

Flashbang wrote:
What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi

an.com/politics/2014

/apr/30/guardian-foo

tage-police-taser-na

ked-man-lee-birch
I thought it was Glos police.....
[quote][p][bold]Flashbang[/bold] wrote: What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi an.com/politics/2014 /apr/30/guardian-foo tage-police-taser-na ked-man-lee-birch[/p][/quote]I thought it was Glos police..... Gogledd
  • Score: 2

1:50pm Thu 1 May 14

Flashbang says...

Gogledd wrote:
Flashbang wrote:
What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi


an.com/politics/2014


/apr/30/guardian-foo


tage-police-taser-na


ked-man-lee-birch
I thought it was Glos police.....
My mistake, I knew it was somewhere out there. I hope you're right and my apologies to Gloucestor Police.
[quote][p][bold]Gogledd[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Flashbang[/bold] wrote: What happened to the police investigation into PCC, isn't it being done by the Wiltshire police? After reading this story in the Guardian I don't think we are going to get anything like justice as they appear to be involved in their own cover up. http://www.theguardi an.com/politics/2014 /apr/30/guardian-foo tage-police-taser-na ked-man-lee-birch[/p][/quote]I thought it was Glos police.....[/p][/quote]My mistake, I knew it was somewhere out there. I hope you're right and my apologies to Gloucestor Police. Flashbang
  • Score: 2

1:51pm Thu 1 May 14

Cymru bach says...

Let me guess what the reply will be ?

NO?
Let me guess what the reply will be ? NO? Cymru bach
  • Score: 6

2:04pm Thu 1 May 14

Bilbo101 says...

Mr Miller there is absolutely no need for complex and lengthy court proceedings to claw back this money, nor is there any need to waste more of our money on external legal representation or on expensive consultants to recommend the unpopular proposals that benefit Mr Parry-Jones, he just needs to do the honourable and right thing to do and repay the money to which he was not entitled.

If you add up Mr Parry-Jones over inflated salary, his perks, plus the external legal and consultants fees used to support his agenda then the real cost of our "Great One" must be approaching the £1million pound per year mark.

Why is it exactly that our head of legal services, Mr Miller, feel the need to hire an external lawyer ? Isn't that what he and his team are employed for ? This all smells to me of not so much incompetence but engineered greed.

Mr Parry-Jones, you avoided paying your fair share of tax, you are an absolute disgrace and not worthy of leading our council. I only wish our councillors had the backbone to support a vote of no confidence and then for you to be sacked. You don't deserve to be in the position you are in and you have been paid way way above your worth.

An immediate review of Mr Parry-Jones salary and benefits needs to take place and his golden package of benefits reduced to that which is similar to other council Chief execs in Wales. He then needs to be sacked and a more competent, honest and less greedy replacement be found.
Mr Miller there is absolutely no need for complex and lengthy court proceedings to claw back this money, nor is there any need to waste more of our money on external legal representation or on expensive consultants to recommend the unpopular proposals that benefit Mr Parry-Jones, he just needs to do the honourable and right thing to do and repay the money to which he was not entitled. If you add up Mr Parry-Jones over inflated salary, his perks, plus the external legal and consultants fees used to support his agenda then the real cost of our "Great One" must be approaching the £1million pound per year mark. Why is it exactly that our head of legal services, Mr Miller, feel the need to hire an external lawyer ? Isn't that what he and his team are employed for ? This all smells to me of not so much incompetence but engineered greed. Mr Parry-Jones, you avoided paying your fair share of tax, you are an absolute disgrace and not worthy of leading our council. I only wish our councillors had the backbone to support a vote of no confidence and then for you to be sacked. You don't deserve to be in the position you are in and you have been paid way way above your worth. An immediate review of Mr Parry-Jones salary and benefits needs to take place and his golden package of benefits reduced to that which is similar to other council Chief execs in Wales. He then needs to be sacked and a more competent, honest and less greedy replacement be found. Bilbo101
  • Score: 14

2:20pm Thu 1 May 14

Justiceforall says...

Pembrokeshire County Council council tax payers cannot afford a CEO, the post must be scrapped. What value have the tax payers had for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to this position. None!
Pembrokeshire County Council council tax payers cannot afford a CEO, the post must be scrapped. What value have the tax payers had for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to this position. None! Justiceforall
  • Score: 9

3:29pm Thu 1 May 14

Harrygrayballs says...

To avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle surely the easy way out would be for BPJ to refund the money that he is not entitled to?
Has he been asked the question???
Presumably he has and the answer was NO!!
So we are being prepared for a lengthy and costly legal battle
or hands in the air and keep the money?
"Doing the decent thing" does not appear to be the BPJ way!!
To avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle surely the easy way out would be for BPJ to refund the money that he is not entitled to? Has he been asked the question??? Presumably he has and the answer was NO!! So we are being prepared for a lengthy and costly legal battle or hands in the air and keep the money? "Doing the decent thing" does not appear to be the BPJ way!! Harrygrayballs
  • Score: 9

4:14pm Thu 1 May 14

hardcheese says...

It is quite obvious that some of the councillors are covering up for Mr Parry-Jones. Just remember it was 30 councillors who were backing him to keep his job. I wouldn't trust greedy Parry-Jones as far as I could throw him !!!!
It is quite obvious that some of the councillors are covering up for Mr Parry-Jones. Just remember it was 30 councillors who were backing him to keep his job. I wouldn't trust greedy Parry-Jones as far as I could throw him !!!! hardcheese
  • Score: 10

4:50pm Thu 1 May 14

pembrokedock123 says...

Gogledd wrote:
its a joke...an absolutely unbelievable joke. ....I dispair....its a mockery of justic a mockery of everything....if any other person tried to do this they would be in jail for fraud, theft and a few more things thrown in for good luck...
as you say "I despair"

so why is it okay for Carmarthenshire CE to give back the money because it is unlawful and not Pembs?
[quote][p][bold]Gogledd[/bold] wrote: its a joke...an absolutely unbelievable joke. ....I dispair....its a mockery of justic a mockery of everything....if any other person tried to do this they would be in jail for fraud, theft and a few more things thrown in for good luck...[/p][/quote]as you say "I despair" so why is it okay for Carmarthenshire CE to give back the money because it is unlawful and not Pembs? pembrokedock123
  • Score: 7

4:55pm Thu 1 May 14

pembrokedock123 says...

... and the Welsh Government still stand back and let it all happen - what happened to their powers to put councils into special measures - refusing to give back unlawful money back, every thief does it - who else can we turn to?
... and the Welsh Government still stand back and let it all happen - what happened to their powers to put councils into special measures - refusing to give back unlawful money back, every thief does it - who else can we turn to? pembrokedock123
  • Score: 7

5:54pm Thu 1 May 14

Tttoommy says...

Bilbo101 wrote:
It is just not the pension money that should be clawed back but also the legal fees in defending a non-defendable and illegal decision. In addition this Chief Exec has been awarded a grossly inflated pay and benefits package that was approved by our incompetent councillors and whilst this cannot be clawed back it should be stopped now to prevent more unnecessary wastage of our council tax money.

The chief exec is the highest paid in Wales yet runs one of the smallest councils with one of the highest incidents of problems resulting from poor leadership. It seems this guy is rewarded for poor performance and attendance. He has never had it so good, it does not matter how bad things get our councillors continue to support his greed. Whilst many of the hard working staff at PCC have seen their hours and salaries cut resulting in severe hardship for many and we have seen our services cut and downgraded yet Mr Untouchable and his yes men have had pay increases. In fact things are going so well for Bryn that he has recently treated himself to a £89,000 new Porsche using the incredibly generous car allowance that our Councillors approved.
To cap it all as the Porsche's a hybrid with less than 99grams of CO2 the car is exempt of TAX!

On a serious note, surely as Bryn was trained as a solicitor I believe he would want to pay back any ILLEGAL payments readily without recourse to the Law?
[quote][p][bold]Bilbo101[/bold] wrote: It is just not the pension money that should be clawed back but also the legal fees in defending a non-defendable and illegal decision. In addition this Chief Exec has been awarded a grossly inflated pay and benefits package that was approved by our incompetent councillors and whilst this cannot be clawed back it should be stopped now to prevent more unnecessary wastage of our council tax money. The chief exec is the highest paid in Wales yet runs one of the smallest councils with one of the highest incidents of problems resulting from poor leadership. It seems this guy is rewarded for poor performance and attendance. He has never had it so good, it does not matter how bad things get our councillors continue to support his greed. Whilst many of the hard working staff at PCC have seen their hours and salaries cut resulting in severe hardship for many and we have seen our services cut and downgraded yet Mr Untouchable and his yes men have had pay increases. In fact things are going so well for Bryn that he has recently treated himself to a £89,000 new Porsche using the incredibly generous car allowance that our Councillors approved.[/p][/quote]To cap it all as the Porsche's a hybrid with less than 99grams of CO2 the car is exempt of TAX! On a serious note, surely as Bryn was trained as a solicitor I believe he would want to pay back any ILLEGAL payments readily without recourse to the Law? Tttoommy
  • Score: 7

5:56pm Thu 1 May 14

Tttoommy says...

Justiceforall wrote:
Pembrokeshire County Council council tax payers cannot afford a CEO, the post must be scrapped. What value have the tax payers had for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to this position. None!
He does the job of a purchase manager - he's given money and told where to spend it and on what services - £50k tops in the real world
[quote][p][bold]Justiceforall[/bold] wrote: Pembrokeshire County Council council tax payers cannot afford a CEO, the post must be scrapped. What value have the tax payers had for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to this position. None![/p][/quote]He does the job of a purchase manager - he's given money and told where to spend it and on what services - £50k tops in the real world Tttoommy
  • Score: 7

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