Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Ex-councillor repays 2k expenses

Joe Griffiths (picture: Powys council)
Joe Griffiths served on Powys council for 34 years

An ex-councillor has repaid more than 2,000 to Powys Council after officials found he had been making false travel expense claims for three years.

Former RAF pilot Joe Griffiths, 88, was spied on by investigators after they spotted "anomalies" on expense forms.

He claimed from an old address 10 miles away that he had not lived at for three years, said Powys Council.

Mr Griffiths, an MBE and councillor for 34 years, insisted he had done nothing wrong and police had taken no action.

The council said from 1 December 2004 to 21 December 2007, Mr Griffiths claimed 2,138.13 for 4,784 miles (7,697km) he did not do.

Officials tailed Mr Griffiths as he drove to meetings from Newtown, when he claimed to be living 10 miles (16km) away in Trefeglwys on a family farm.

The police said there was no case against me so as far as I'm concerned I did nothing wrong
Joe Griffiths

Mr Griffiths, who retired as a councillor last year, repaid the money when he was confronted by council chief executive Mark Kerr last May.

The case was referred to Dyfed-Powys Police, but the local authority said the investigation was closed on 1 October last year when the Crown Prosecution Service decided to take no further action.

But Mr Griffiths, who received the MBE for services to the community in 2004, said he had done nothing wrong and wanted to claim the money back.

"When I came to live in Newtown I was still claiming from my place of work - a family farm in Trefeglwys," said Mr Griffiths.

"I did not realise what the regulations were at that particular time.

"The police said there was no case against me so as far as I'm concerned I did nothing wrong.

"They (the council) do not appreciate what I've achieved and I take exception to this. I have a good name in Montgomeryshire and in mid Wales."

The discrepancy came to light when a finance manager analysed a number of councillors' expense forms following a request from a councillor.

Anomalies were found and the case was referred to the internal audit group for investigation in October 2007.

'The suspect'

The council said the internal audit group carried out a "thorough investigation that involved the independent verification of the information".

It added: "In addition, they carried out a number of surveillance exercises that could be compared to forthcoming claims.

"Information from the electoral register confirmed that the suspect had been living at the new address from December 2004 onwards.

"Therefore, on the basis of independent and objective inquiries, it was determined that the former member was claiming travel expenses from a different location other than the former member's main place of residency."

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