More legal news
17 March 2005 | Cara Whitehouse
A former purchaser at the London Borough of Havering faces prison after he was found guilty of fraud.
Kevin Barry, former procurement officer at the local authority, will be sentenced tomorrow after he was found guilty of corruption contrary to section 1(1) of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889.
The conviction followed evidence that Barry, who worked in the council's information and communications technology department, had received cheques totalling around £12,000 "as a reward for placing certain purchase orders through [IT dealership] Orbital Solutions Ltd".
Barry admitted his guilt of the offences committed in 1999 and 2000.
Nicholas Stevenson, former sales director at Orbital Solutions, also admitted his role in the collusion.
Christopher Clarke, the managing director, and John Brett, an accounts executive at the firm, denied corruption contrary to section 1(2) of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, but a jury found them guilty on 10 counts.
A source at Orbital Solutions, who would not be named, claimed the two men were innocent and would appeal against the verdicts.
Havering Council told SM it has tightened its procurement and sign-off procedures in response to the case.
Mike Stringer, head of financial services, said that a series of checks are now in place as well as a fraud and corruption strategy, agreed by the council last year.
As part of this programme, a whistleblowing policy has been established throughout the council for employees and members of the public.
According to Stringer, a confidential telephone line has received a "handful" of calls, although none have been related to purchasing.
"Procurement in general has evolved and now has a much higher profile," he said.
"People are aware of it as a national issue and recognise the potential risk of fraud.
"The monitoring systems now in place mean people can't buy anything without approval."
He also said the increased use of procurement cards limits what people can spend and ensures that those transactions are reviewed on a monthly basis.
Statements are reconciled each month and checked by a senior manager, he added.