Friday, 4 July 2014

Tony Hogg paid £165,000 of taxpayer money to get rid of his chief executive

Today's publication of the accounts for the office of Devon and Cornwall's Police and Crime Commissioner reveals that Tory Commissioner Tony Hogg paid £165,000 to get rid of chief executive Sue Howl.

Ms Howl was in the post from the time of Mr Hogg's election until November last year. At the time she left in unexplained circumstances. According to a press release, it was to seek new challenges. I asked but Mr Hogg and his office refused to reveal any more.

So I pressed via a Freedom of Information request and Mr Hogg still refused to reveal the circumstances of Ms Howl's departure. He also refused to reveal the details of any pay off.

Today the account reveal that Ms Howl - who was paid a basic salary of around £98,000 per year - received a pay off of about £142,000 and further pension contributions of about £23,000.

That's outrageous.

There are three circumstances whereby a person leaves their job:

  • They are sacked for gross misconduct in which case they have no entitlement to a pay off whatsoever (I have no reason at all to suggest that Ms Howl's conduct in the job was anything other than perfectly fine);
  • They hand in their resignation in which case they have no entitlement to a pay off;
  • The post is made redundant in which case they are entitled to a pay off - usually of up to a year's salary. But in those circumstances someone else cannot be recruited to the same job.

Mr Hogg is insistent that Ms Howl left of her own accord. So why did she get a pay off worth about a year and a half's salary? That money would have employed around five uniformed police constables to make our streets safer.

Is it actually the case that Mr Hogg felt that he could use public money simply to get rid of an employee he disagreed with? Mr Hogg chose to sign a gagging clause even though he was under no obligation to do so. His refusal to say why Ms Howl left means that speculation is rife. What is certain is that it is money wasted.

Mr Hogg is also having to explain why his total office costs came in at more than £1.95 million, well over budget. That's about £350,000 more than the police authority he replaced despite a promise by the Home Secretary that costs would fall. Among the additional costs were tens of thousands of pounds on consultants and money spent on accommodation for Mr Hogg because he refused to take up the free accommodation made available for him.

It seems that Tory Mr Hogg is quite happy to be profligate with our money.

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