Guido had not forgotten the chaos he caused down Wandsworth way this summer by revealing more than £50,000 in suspected fraudulent payments to the local Conservative agent. Two years after concerns were first raised internally, an independent investigation has been called and the suspect – Councillor Robert Morritt – has been suspended. The details of the inquiry have been released today:
The Conservative Party in Wandsworth and Wimbledon is establishing an inquiry into allegations appearing in the media concerning accounting irregularities during the period (2006-10) when Robert Morritt was in its employment. The local Conservative Party is organised in four Conservative Associations in Battersea, Putney, Tooting and Wimbledon. These Associations pool resources in the Wandsworth & Wimbledon Conservative Group. Rob Morritt was employed by its predecessor organisation, known as the Wandsworth Conservative Group.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, has been asked to: Conduct an independent review of the professional activities, including recent media allegations, of Robert Morritt during his employment with the Wandsworth Conservative Group. The review should be thorough, evidence based and should make observations, draw conclusions and recommendations as appropriate. Cllr Puddifoot will report his findings to the Group Management Committee of the Wandsworth & Wimbledon Conservative Group, who will then make a detailed public statement covering the allegations that have been made. Cllr Puddifoot will conclude his investigations as soon as practically possible but the importance of a thorough investigation precludes a set time limit.
Cllr Puddifoot has been Leader of Hillingdon Council for 12 years and is a past Treasurer of the Uxbridge Conservative Association. He is by profession a Chartered Accountant and served for many years, on a voluntary basis, as a General Commissioner of Revenue and Customs. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Cllr Puddifoot has no previous connection with the Wandsworth or Wimbledon Conservative Associations.
A professional outside auditor would have made more sense, especially given that elements Conservative Party have already systematically covered this story up already. Two investigations already compiled have found over £50,000 of unaccounted funds, yet they were ignored by Wandsworth Conservatives – instead they promoted Morritt. Guido has offered to make all the evidence he has in his possession, and it’s a lot, available to Mr Puddifoot.
He looks forward to hearing from him…