Expenses questions for police commissioner

Questions: Concerns surrounding 'anomolies' over Mr Grunshaw's expenses are expected to be referred to the IPCC
Questions: Concerns surrounding 'anomolies' over Mr Grunshaw's expenses are expected to be referred to the IPCC
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Lancashire’s newly elected police and crime commissioner is today facing embarrassing questions about “anomalies” within expenses he has previously claimed as a public servant.

Clive Grunshaw - Lancashire’s highest paid politician - is facing calls to resign after being accused of “double claiming” mileage payments. He has now promised to pay back any overpayments.

Mr Grunshaw, who is also a Labour Lancashire county councillor used to serve on the Lancashire Police Authority, before it was replaced by the controversial new PCC post.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act appear to show that on 23 occasions in three years Mr Grunshaw claimed expenses from both the county council and the police authority for separate meetings which were held on the same day in or near Preston. On each occasion he claimed round-trip mileage from his home in Fleetwood, which is 23 miles from Preston, for both meetings even though some of the second meetings began the same time he claimed he had returned to Fleetwood from the first engagement.

The documents appear to show that in nine of the 23 expense claims - that were submitted before he was elected as PCC last - Coun Grunshaw, who lives in Fleetwood, records his “leaving home” time for a second meeting as taking place before the “arrival home” time from the first meeting.

In the 23 cases Mr Grunshaw is believed to have claimed £1,200 in mileage and an estimated £350 in subsistence.

The claims were submitted over a three year period from 2009 onwards and were revealed following an FOI request from Sam Chapman, editor of Top of The Cops website which monitors the country’s elected commissioners.

Conservative councillor Sam Chapman, from Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, said: “There needs to be an open, full and independent investigation.

“If similar facts were to come to light for anybody else in any other profession I think we would expect the police to investigate.

“Clearly, we would need to make use of the arrangements that exist to make sure that he is not investigated by officers in the force that he is responsible for.

“I believe that Clive Grunshaw should be investigated by the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission). Anybody else would expect a police investigation so that should be equally true of the police and crime commissioner.”

Mr Grunshaw is paid £85,000 a year and appointed former police authority member Ibrahim Master as deputy commissioner who is paid £30,000 pro rata.

Councillor Grunshaw was elected as PCC on November 15 of this year after gaining 79,790 votes in the election.

The Tory leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver has called for Mr Grunshaw to resign.

He said: “It doesn’t give a good impression of whether the police and crime commissioner can be trusted.

“The people of Lancashire are entitled to expect the utmost highest standards of honesty from their Police and Crime Commisioner and if he is shown to have been claiming for the same journey from the police authority and the county council he should resign as a Police and Crime Commissioner.”

Clive Grunshaw said in a statement released Monday: “Every expense claim I have made has been genuinely intentioned and related to my ward and Police Authority duties, so far as I was aware.

“At no point have I wilfully submitted claims which I know to be untrue.

“These allegations of discrepancies, regarding alleged overlaps in my expenses claims, were presented to me on Friday evening.

“I have requested that a full investigation is launched into these allegations.

“I welcome this and will comply fully with the investigative process.”

Speaking to the Sunday Times he said he was “shocked and disappointed with finding any anomalies” in his claims. Despite repeated attempts by the Lancashire Evening Post Mr Grunshaw was unavailable for comment.

He said: “I have tried to be vigilant to ensure claims are accurate.

“Clearly there are overlaps in times on some of the claims and this is what is so disappointing.

“The claims are genuinely intentioned but my process appears to have been flawed.”

He continued: “It is not always easy to recall the exact time when meetings finished or for the time taken travelling to/from my home address, especially when claims are made several weeks later.

“Consequently on some occasions when I have submitted the claims there has been an overlap on those times. This must be carelessness on my part and I have clearly not cross-checked the meetings from each authority correctly. I will take steps to rectify any mistakes or repayments.”

Nobody was available from the IPCC to comment on whether they would investigate the allegations by Mr Chapman.