Some background (nowhere near exhaustive)
Stewart Halliday allegedly defrauded a six-figure sum in public money during his time at York City Council. York have an internal audit and fraud agency called “Veritau” who stress that they are not public servants and judging by the two phone calls we had with them (below) are not really capable of acting independently from York City Council, i.e. in the public interest.
Little wonder then that no investigation into Stewart Halliday appears to have ever been mounted by them. We contacted them in April 2017 and again in May 2018 with as much of the detail as we could locate, but despite their professed, public determination to root out fraudsters, and to publicise successful prosecutions as a deterrent, it wasn’t enough of a clarion call for them to act on it or do anything at all about it. They never got back to us to confirm whether or not they had initiated an investigation.
We’ll confidently assume they did not, because Halliday’s career went on uninterrupted at Wirral Council. He continued on his year-long contract and carried on claiming £188,000 per annum, practically triple his previous salary as a full-time York Council senior officer.
As you can see in the Rotten Boroughs clip, Halliday was even free to land Wirral Council in very hot water despite the CEO Eric Robinson being fully appraised of the risk he was taking in employing his services by politically active Wirral resident Charles Nunn.
So the unfortunate lady who went to prison (listen to Audio 1 below) after defrauding £13,000 from the DWP following Veritau’s investigation has every reason to feel unfairly targetted. Especially when you consider that you could add a nought to the figure she defrauded and perhaps double it when examining Halliday’s alleged fraud. Luckily for him, far too many important heads would have rolled if Veritau had ever mustered up the guts to do their job properly.
Veritau seem to have covered their tracks now after we phoned them and have since removed the story of the lady and the £13,000 benefit fraud from their list of publicised cases.
It seems to us that when a controlling body’s reputation comes awkwardly into the equation, it simply doesn’t do to go investigating it. Because when you start being obdurate, asking sensitive questions and opening up the wrong cupboards, you don’t know what skeletons are going to jump out and frighten you.
Audio 1 – 6th April 2017
Audio 2 – 10th May 2018