Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Anger over Shetland Council boss golden handshake


Feelings are running high on Shetland over the issue

More than 100 people have marched in Lerwick to protest against plans by Shetland Council to give its chief executive £250,000 to leave his job.

The demonstration was held by the organisers of a 1,300-signature petition, calling on the authority not to make the pay-off to David Clark.

He became chief executive of Shetland Islands Council in June last year.

Mr Clark was investigated in October after Councillor Jonathan Wills claimed to have been threatened by him.

Although an inquiry cleared him at the time, local police have said within the last week that they had received new information and were now looking into the case.

In a joint statement issued by Cosla's chief executive Rory Mair and Murray McCall, the council's external legal adviser, both parties said they were "appalled" at the lack of confidentiality surrounding the issue.

The statement said: "We are both appalled that so much information on what is a confidential matter concerning an individual's employment has been discussed so publicly."

'Tittle tattle'

It added: "There are audit and regulatory processes which assess whether the council and others have behaved appropriately and information from these can in time become public.

"That is the process which governs employment and all other matters in the public sector, and the residents of Shetland can be assured that these processes will take place in this case.

"Trial by tittle tattle is not a satisfactory alternative.

"We would therefore urge everybody who has information on this matter to live up to their obligations with regard to confidentiality."

However, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has called for any deal between Mr Clark and the council to be delayed until the conclusion of the police inquiry.

He said: "Many people on Shetland simply don't understand why, with a live police investigation going on into the conduct of the chief executive of Shetland Islands Council, why any financial arrangement could possibly be reached with that going on."

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