Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Councillor Adrian Dennis, London Borough of Croydon (CAB 28(a))


  I write following the Audit of AHL Ltd of conflicts of interest relating to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). This audit was instigated by the Heritage Minister, Lord McIntosh in March 2004 and submitted to Parliament on 17 June 2004. I believe that the Auditors' report has wide ranging implications for the management of all Non-Departmental Government Bodies and is therefore of some significance.

  Paragraph 19.2 of the report carries a clear implication that there is a need to ensure that the advisors to CABE follow the ethical guidelines of their professional bodies. That requirement is juxtaposed with the comments in the preceding paragraph in relation to the lead partner of Herbert Smith who, it appears, represented both CABE and Stanhope Plc., leading the Auditors to conclude that there was potential conflict of interest, evidenced in the correspondence dated 11 June 2003, to which the Auditors refer.

  The Auditors record that the correspondence, to which paragraphs 19.1 and 19.2 relate, was forwarded by CABE to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport following a letter of complaint submitted by our Client to CABE.

  It will be apparent to you from the foregoing that we have here a matter of sufficient concern and importance that a Government minister has commissioned Independent Auditors to investigate and report to Parliament, with a recommendation at paragraph 19.3 that where common advisors are used, it should be ensured that different partners are involved and the interests declared.

  As a matter both of proper administration and public interest in the light of the findings that have been submitted to Parliament, I believe that it falls to your office to investigate the conduct issue which so concerned both CABE (following the complaint, causing them to forward the correspondence to the Department) and also the Auditors. Accordingly, I would be grateful if you would look into the matter and respond to me with your views.

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