Essex: Lord Hanningfield ‘no court’ decision by county council leader challenged

Lord Hanningfield

Lord Hanningfield - Credit: PA

A decision by the leader of County Hall not to launch legal action against Lord Hanningfield has been formally challenged.

David Finch took the decision two weeks’ ago following advice from the Audit Committee that the potentially high legal costs and low chance of success outweighed the moral argument to pursue Lord Hanningfield.

The former leader, real name Paul White, allegedly incorrectly claimed on expenses or spent on his corporate credit card an estimated £51,000 bwteen 2005 and 2010.

Essex County Council had been considering a civil action since police dropped their investigation saying there was insufficient evidence.

However Mr Finch’s decision has been “called-in” by both the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups at the county council, meaning it will now be reviewed by a scrutiny committee and potentially referred to full council to make a decision.

Labour has said the decision was not made openly and transparently in a full public hearing, while the Liberal Democrats have said justice needs to be seen to be done.

Following a debate in the council chamber about the decision last week, the EADT asked our readers whether they thought action should be taken.

The online poll revealed 86% of those voting said legal action should be taken against Lord Hanningfield, while just 12% said it should not. The remaining two per cent said they did not know.