£14m South Yorkshire fraud report to be made public

Mike Buckley who ran the South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit in Chapeltown, Sheffield.
Mike Buckley who ran the South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit in Chapeltown, Sheffield.
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SHEFFIELD Council has finally been ordered to release a report into how South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit ran up £14 million of debts - after a delay of two years.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has told the council it must now release its findings on the scandal, which broke following the sudden death of the unit’s manager Mike Buckley in late 2005 when an examination of its finances revealed a massive and long-running fraud.

Three businessmen who had traded with Buckley were prosecuted and received suspended prison sentences in 2010.

An investigation was also launched by civil servant Neil Newton, with Sheffield Council stating that findings in his report would be published after the crown court case had ended.

A request for the release of the report through Freedom of Information legislation was rejected by Sheffield Council, but its decision was appealed to the Information Commissioner who ruled it must be released within 35 days.

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “We have received the Information Commissioner’s Office ruling which we have shared with the other three local authorities.

“We will not be appealing against this and have always maintained the report will be released publicly at an appropriate time.”

He added: “We will now be finalising matters ready for release and will announce further details shortly.”

The three men who participated in the fraud were all sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court in February 2010, after pleading guilty to false accounting charges.

William Whitehead, aged 65, of Chesterfield, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence, 240 hours of community service and was ordered to repay £153, 074.

Paul Liggins, 58, of Northampton, had a 12-month suspended sentence, 200 hours’ community service and was ordered to repay £84,102.

David Abbott, 64, of Sheffield, received a 12-month suspended prison sentence, 120 hours of community service, and had to repay £47, 790.