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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Sleaze watchdog 'out of control'
Paul Dimoldenberg
Paul Dimoldenberg: Investigated
The sleaze watchdog charged with overseeing local government standards is "out of control", a Labour MP says.

Parliamentary standards committee member Andrew Dismore said the Standards Board for England was a "Frankenstein's monster".

He told BBC News that inquiries took too long, cost too much and the standards board was not choosy enough about what it decided to investigate.

Board chairman Sir Anthony Holland said it could not choose what to probe.

Mr Dismore cited the case of a Westminster councillor, Paul Dimoldenberg, who was the subject of an investigation for whistleblowing over the homes-for-votes scandal involving Dame Shirley Porter.

"The standards board spent 50,000 of public money on external legal advice alone. The case took two years. We don't know what the total cost was, we don't know how much time was spent by investigating officers on it. It's completely out of control," he said.

The Hendon MP said there needed to be tougher management of the board.

"It is about maintaining high standards but it is not about investigating hundreds of complaints to the nth degree. Last year only 25 resulted in disqualification."

But Sir Anthony said the board looked into Mr Dimoldenberg's conduct after a complaint from Westminster City Council about a breach of confidentiality.

"We can't pick and choose what we investigate," he argued before adding the board was established by the government and politicians should decide if its costs were justified.

"The idea was to ensure that there was increased confidence in local democracy. I personally believe that in fact there is increased confidence."


SEE ALSO:
Porter pays 12m to Westminster
05 Jul 04 |  UK Politics
No sanction for Porter BBC leak
20 May 05 |  London


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