15 months in jail for Havering buyer

11 May 2005

12 May 2005 | David Arminas

A former purchaser at the London Borough of Havering has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for his part in an IT fraud.

Kevin Barry and three people from IT supplier Orbital Solutions sat impassively in the dock at Southwark Crown Court as the sentences were given on 22 April.

Barry was convicted on 10 counts of corruption contrary to section 1(1) of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to receiving payments totalling around £12,000 from Orbital between July 1999 and September 2000.

The payments were 10 cheques that he initially said were for consultancy work done with Orbital outside his Havering office hours.

In return, Orbital was awarded orders worth around £145,000 for computer equipment and software, a substantial increase on their previous volume of work.

In the year before the fraud started, Orbital received only five orders worth £2,500.

The managing director of Orbital, Christopher Clarke, who entered into the fraud initiated by Barry, was sentenced to 12 months in jail and ordered to pay costs of £10,000. He was also disqualified from being a company director for five years.

Orbital accountant John Brett, and former sales director Nicholas Stevenson, each received 200 hours of community service.

The judge said this punishment reflected Stevenson's pleading guilty to the charges and the fact he left Orbital in late 2000, since when his own business venture had gone broke, leaving him with debts of £40,000. He now has a consultancy practice with his wife.

The judge took Brett's age - 66 - into consideration, although he must pay costs of £5,000. Also, he said that Brett "had been presented with a fait accompli" by Clarke, his son-in-law.

Lastly, the judge praised Paul Murray in Havering's IT department for bringing the illegal deal to the attention of the local authority. Murray was awarded "£500 from the public purse".

John Scowen, corporate procurement manager at Havering, and vice-chairman of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government, said the authority was pleased the issue was now closed. "For Havering's sake, we are glad it has come to an end and can move on from here," he said.

"This happened at a time when IT did its own procurement, but we have since moved IT buying into purchasing and set up procedures to bring such corruption to light more quickly."


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