Report into missing millions by summer

David Abbott
David Abbott
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A LONG-awaited report into how £7 million went missing at South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit is finally set to be published “by the summer” - a year later than first announced.

After the conviction of three men for their roles in the fiasco last February, The Star was told an independent report into how the money disappeared would be made public in three to four months.

Paul Liggins

Paul Liggins

Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “At the time of the prosecution, the report had not been finalised. We held off completing the report so work did not compromise the prosecution and waited until the case was over.

“Afterwards, we brought back the report’s author to complete his work but he had been working on other matters, so could not come back straight away.

“He has now finalised the report but it is with the other South Yorkshire councils awaiting their approval before it can be published.

“I would like this report to be published as soon as possible but it is in the hands of the other local authorities. It should be published by the summer.”

William Whitehead

William Whitehead

Three former trading standards unit staff were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court for their role in dishonest activity committed at the defunct South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit after a prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office.

All pleaded guilty to conspiring with the unit’s chief Michael Buckley, who died of a heart attack in 2005, to commit false accounting.

William Whitehead, aged 64, of Chesterfield, received 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, 240 hours of unpaid community service and was ordered to repay £153,074.35

Paul Liggins, 56, of Northampton, received 12 months suspended for two years, 200 hours of unpaid community service and was ordered to repay £84,102.

David Abbott, 63, of Sheffield, was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years, 120 hours of unpaid community service, and told to repay £47,790.

All were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,000.

Judge John Bullimore ordered the repaid money would be returned to Sheffield Council.

South Yorkshire Trading Standards Unit, which closed in 2006, had provided special calibration services to local authorities and private industry.

Buckley used false invoices to make the unit appear far more profitable than it was and the three men colluded with him by supplying false invoices for the purchase of calibration machinery.