I have just come back from being interviewed by the Police about Liverpool Direct Ltd and One Connect Lancashire with a greater emphasis on the former.
You will all be aware that I have been concerned for a considerable time with the way that we have all had difficulty getting information from Liverpool Council about LDL and its staff. To make clear this is a not a political point some of those concerns arose whilst my Party controlled the council BUT things seem to have got a lot worse over the past four years.
Last summer I gave evidence to the Police about some things relating to their OCL enquiry. I was contacted shortly after that by two people who have maintained a close interest in LDL activity over the years and in November I met them. They have prepared a 1,000 page briefing which indicates in some detail why we need a strong external examination of statements made by LDL and the Council. These are not amateurs. One is a person who specialises in international financial accounting and the other is a Director of a large IT business. Neither of them have any interest in the matter other than the desire to put taxpayers money first.
In January I wrote to the Chief Constable and within days my two colleagues and I met two very senior police officers. They listened to us for an hour or so and received our briefing. It was clear that they wanted to look at the evidence and then see how this might relate to the Lancashire Polices’ enquiry into OCL. I am pleased that the Police acknowledge that link. The position of Liverpool City Council that there was no connection between this investigation and Liverpool Council was always untenable given that the home of a seconded employee of the Council has been searched under warrant as has the offices of LDL itself.
This morning I gave evidence to the Police about what I consider to be the difficulties in getting information from the Council. This was most apparent at the end of 2013 when Lancashire Council was releasing information that Liverpool refused to release. Much of my evidence related to the background to the matter and a political and local government perspective on events and relationships. My two colleagues will be talking to the Police and giving greater detail to them about the contents of the briefing.
The nub of the matter is that Directors of LDL have not submitted correct returns to Companies House and that there are conflicting views from the Mayor, Security Industry Association, Liverpool Arena and LDL about how much was earned. This is of crucial importance because we are unable as taxpayers and owners of LDL to work out what we should have been entitled to receive from such joint work and who paid what; to who; for what!
I clearly cannot go into detail about what I said today. I can go even less into detail about what was in the briefing as it went way past my knowledge of company and financial laws and practices.
We are pushing the Police to take action because at some stage in the very near future (although it appears to be changing) the Council will wind up LDL which means that a lot less information will need to retained than it would for an ongoing company. I have also been concerned that the person at the centre of the Lancashire enquiries should be receiving a payoff whilst those investigations continue.
I do not expect that we will hear anything about this in the near future. After all the Lancashire Police have had 5 staff working on this overall situation since January 2014 so it is detailed and complex. I do however, want taxpayers in Liverpool to know that this matter has not all been brushed under the carpet but is being actively pursued by those I consider to be right people – the police with all their legal and investigatory powers and experience.
Attached below is my Letter to the Chief Constable.
Sir Jon Murphy QPM,
15th January 2015
Re: Liverpool Direct Ltd
You will be aware that your colleagues in Lancashire have for the past year been investigating the activities of BT subsidiary One Connect Lancashire. You will also be aware of the many connections between Liverpool and Lancashire councils both in terms of decision making and sharing of officers and costs. I understand that they might soon be making clear what actions they will be taking in respect of this investigation.
In November I was contacted by two individuals who for the past few years have been concerned as local tax payers about the way LDL has been run and the way that it has reported. At this stage they wish to remain anonymous but would be pleased to make time available to meet with you and or senior staff of yours who specialise in financial activity. One is a translator who specialises in Board papers and directors’ briefings, and who has a strong working knowledge of international standards for financial reporting. The other is a company director working in the IT industry, with extensive experience of corporate accountability in this sector. They would, of course, be prepared to meet with you and/or senior staff to talk through their concerns in some detail.
In the meantime, however, I append a brief that they have written as a ‘taster’. I have been through this and have spent time looking with them at the evidence which they have produced which is more than 1,000 pages which they will make available to you on a stick. Although I have been both a councillor and someone who has run businesses for the best part of 40 years they have now passed my comfort zone of knowledge. However, I am convinced by what they have said that there is a case to answer.
Certainly at a political level I have found it very hard to get information from City Council officers about things that I believe that I and the people of Liverpool have a right to know.
This matter is now becoming urgent as the control of the Company has passed to the City Council whose intention it is to wind the company up at the end of this financial year. This will clearly mean that they will not have to keep intact the detailed records of the business which they would as a going concern. Indeed this appears to me to be the only reason that they would actually wind up the company as the costs of maintaining it are minimal.
On that basis I would be grateful if you would agree to meet me and my two contacts either in person or by way of your senior staff who deal with such matters. I am sure that you will appreciate that this matter involves people at a senior level of the council in Liverpool on both the political and managerial side.
I would also be pleased to supply immediately the evidence alluded to in the brief although I would advise that whichever member of your staff looks at this should do so after meeting the two people. They can then guide them gently through more than 1,000 pages of evidence!!
If you wish to talk this through I am available on 07855 626913 or by e-mail at email@example.com although in the week beginning 19th January I shall be in Washington (the USA one!)
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE