Mr E Cairns
15 September 2010
Mr John McNeill
Your refs: PCCS/00448/08 and
Dear Mr McNeill,
I refer to your report on the handling of my complaints by Strathclyde Police dated August 2010 and your letter dated 8 September 2010.
In this letter I address the section in your report reviewing how Strathclyde Police responded in respect of the third head of complaint that the PCCS had identified for consideration, which was:
‘that Strathclyde Police colluded with the applicant’s former employer by remaining silent regarding false public statements on the outcome of the police investigation’
Your report on this head of complaint includes the following statements:
‘Strathclyde Police did not respond to this issue.............. there is no general duty upon police officers to comment or act on the contents of newspaper reports. Accordingly, no further action is required of Strathclyde Police in relation to this issue.’
This is simply an insult to the general public and every party concerned about integrity in public finances.
Strathclyde Police clearly have nothing but disdain for the general public and organisations concerned about allegations of financial irregularities in respect of the handling of taxpayers’ money and you have now supported Strathclyde Police in their devious, dishonest and overtly corrupt approach.
How can anyone ever trust any press reports on the outcomes of police investigations in the light of this manifestly devious police behaviour, now encouraged by your own stated view on the matter?
So the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland regards such blatantly dishonest and devious conduct by Strathclyde Police, which was rather obviously in collusion with the organisation that had been under investigation, as a matter of little or no consequence? This is no less than a scandal and a disgrace.
A reasonable suspicion could arise in the mind of an independent observer that Scottish Enterprise had been assured in advance that Strathclyde Police would remain silent as Scottish Enterprise duped everyone by blatantly lying about the outcome of the police investigation in this case as detailed below.
How do we know that there were no inducements offered and accepted in respect of this cosy arrangement?
This is a matter of very grave concern. A serious conflict of interest arises where the police can choose not to counter lies promulgated by suspects on the outcome of police inquiries. Acquiescence by the police is clearly worth paying for. And the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland isn’t going to care, is he?
In October 1993 the Herald and several other newspapers published articles saying that investigations had found that there was ‘no substance to the allegations’.
The Herald article quoted director Andrew Downie saying:
‘As an organisation dealing with public money, Enterprise Ayrshire has developed stringent financial control mechanisms. These controls are regularly vetted by our own board, through its audit committee, by Scottish Enterprise, and by our external auditors Ernst & Young. Allegations of this nature can damage the probity which Enterprise Ayrshire insists on in all aspects of its operations and we are delighted that, after a thorough investigation, Strathclyde police have confirmed that there is no substance to the allegations.’
But on the contrary the police report, although seriously defective as detailed in my previous communications, had at least concluded correctly:
‘The receipt of ERDF money was brought into the July financial ledger on 18 August. The money was received in June 1993 and should therefore have been accounted for in this month.’
In the Scotsman the following appeared:
‘Some of their criticisms were answered by the Scottish Enterprise chairman, Donald Mackay, at a briefing after a board meeting yesterday. Conceding that the internal controls needed to be examined and tightened where appropriate, he added that the promotion, marketing and consultancy expenditure would also be reviewed. But he pointed out that an inquiry into the alleged fraud at Enterprise Ayrshire, involving £187,000 of European regional development funding, had resulted in the LEC being given ‘’a clean bill of health’’. The allegations centred on a claim that the money was not entered in the company’s computerised accounts until two months after it was received, during which time it was placed in a high interest account. In explanation, Prof Mackay said that the additional funding attracted by the grant had to be spent before the grant itself could be used. He said that it was normal practice to place the money on deposit until it was drawn down. ‘’We knew about the transaction,’’ he added.’
These comments were of course dishonest, indeed utter nonsense, and did not explain at all why this significant amount of taxpayers’ money had been secretly misappropriated.
In the meantime, two MPs and my professional body wrote to government ministers on my behalf, including the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) were sufficiently concerned that there had been an injustice in this case that they took the highly unusual step of intervening on my behalf.
CIMA wrote to the Scottish Minister for Industry and Local Government that I had acted entirely correctly and completely in accordance with accounting ethical guidelines, in the following terms:
‘Mr Cairns is a qualified management accountant and a member of this Institute, and we thought it might be helpful if the Institute clearly set out its position in this matter to you in the event of the case being re-opened.’
‘The Institute believes that the action taken by Mr Cairns in reporting to his superiors the apparent discrepancy of £187,069 in the main account of Ayrshire Enterprise was entirely correct, and that in doing so he was acting completely in accordance with the Ethical Guidelines of this Institute.’
The MPs, Lord Hogg and the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin, requested a full investigation.
Lord Hogg MP confirmed in a letter to me:
‘Thank you for your letters of 19 August and 21 August concerning Enterprise Ayrshire. I have now written to the Secretary of State for Scotland asking that the matters you raise be fully investigated and shall write to you again when I have something to report.’
His letter to the Secretary of State stated:
‘My constituent Eddie Cairns ......... has written two letters to me concerning matters he raised with Enterprise Ayrshire while he was in their employment.’
‘I am satisfied that these matters warrant investigation by your Department and I should be grateful if this could be undertaken as soon as possible.’
‘I look forward to your reply in due course.’
About a year later, after I had moved to a different constituency, my new MP Michael Martin’s letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland stated:
‘Enclosed is a letter from my constituent Mr Eddie Cairns regarding his dismissal from Enterprise Ayrshire.’
‘It would appear to me that Mr Cairns was punished for acting in a very honest and professional manner’.
‘I am at a loss to understand why the sum of £187,069 was omitted from the accounts of this public body for so long’
‘I would be obliged if this matter could be fully investigated’.
All these interested parties were misled on the outcome of the police investigation. Simply put, Strathclyde Police had found that all my allegations were true but allowed Scottish Enterprise to lie to everyone about it.
Now you have effectively added your own support to this scandalous state of affairs.
This conduct seriously undermines the following introductory statements in your report:
’The Commissioner is independent of the police service and performs his functions in a fair and impartial manner.’
‘Among the factors which the Commissioner takes into account are the following:’
· ‘whether in dealing with the complaint the policing body has adhered to all relevant policies, procedures and legal provisions;’
Contrary to these undertakings, your report appears to be biased and fundamentally unlawful. Such overt dishonesty and collusion in the context of a criminal investigation is rather more serious than you seem to think.
The conduct of Strathclyde Police officers in this case appears to be indicative of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Very significantly, disclosures obtained from Audit Scotland in May 2009 revealed that responses from Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Office Ministers in this case were ‘disingenuous’.
Audit Scotland’s assessment was far from categorising any claim from me as vexatious. Instead such a claim was clearly regarded as a realistic possibility as disclosed in the following extracts:
‘Mr Cairns is correct in his view that the ERDF monies should have been included in the EA June Management Accounts and it looks as though they might have been omitted from the July accounts but for his actions ............. Speculation on why the monies were not disclosed in the management accounts is academic at this stage but it does seem odd that he was allegedly instructed to exclude them from the July accounts.’
‘Responses to Mr Cairns (sic) complaints from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Office Ministers dismiss the omission of the receipts as a technical accounting matter. That is disingenuous. Mr Cairns (sic) issue is about the deliberate misstatement of management accounts; there are governance issues here................ The Board of EA were receiving these management accounts as was Scottish Enterprise, the principal funders. I see no reason why the ERDF monies should not have been shown in the first management accounts after their receipt. Scottish Enterprise should have been concerned that Mr Cairns was allegedly instructed to exclude them.............. If Mr Cairns is seeking recompense for his dismissal we should not get drawn in.’ (emphasis mine)
Importantly, since the police report actually appears to have been prepared by Ms Mandy Dickson of Scottish Enterprise and to have been plainly rigged there are substantive grounds for objecting to your complacency and ineffectiveness in this case.
The so-called police report contained none of the evidence I had submitted to Strathclyde Police at the time nor any witness statements from me or indeed from anyone else involved.
Do you have any interest whatsoever in upholding ethical standards and integrity in public finances?
Do you have any respect at all for the general public?
In the world that you inhabit apparently those who have been investigated by the police for alleged criminality are free to issue formal statements to the press, as Scottish Enterprise did in this case, stating that the police had found the allegations to be false when in fact the police had found the allegations to be true.
How is that in the public interest or in the interests of justice?
In this case not only the general public but also the Secretary of State for Scotland, two MPs who acted on my behalf, my professional body the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Audit Scotland and any other interested parties were fed a pack of lies by Scottish Enterprise while the police benignly looked the other way and said absolutely nothing.
Your angle that the police have no duty to comment on press reports is completely unacceptable and indeed it reveals you to be a fundamentally dishonest person unfit for any position requiring a modicum of integrity.
In view of the very serious nature of the above and its relevance to wider issues in this case I have copied this letter to Strathclyde Police, to Scottish Enterprise, to the Scottish Government’s Ms Stella Manzie, Director General Justice and Communities, to Audit Scotland, to Mr Bob Doris MSP and to the Crown Office.
This is clearly a matter of public interest that would tend to undermine the public’s confidence in the administration of justice, justice not having been seen to be done.
This letter has therefore been put into the public domain as is entirely appropriate in these circumstances.