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Suspended director of law cleared but leaves in management restructure

A director of law who was suspended alongside other officers at a local authority in the North West pending an investigation into the award of a highways contract has been found to have no case to answer.

Bill Norman, Director of Law, HR and Asset Management at Wirral Council, was suspended in July after a critical public interest report into the award of the authority’s Highways and Engineering Services contract in 2008.

The subsequent investigation has exonerated Norman. However, he has now left the local authority as part of a management restructure.

A statement from Wirral’s chief executive, Graham Burgess, said: “On 13 July 2012 the Council commissioned Richard Penn to undertake a preliminary investigation into the role of various officers, including Bill Norman, into the matters referred to in the Public Interest Report published by the District Auditor.

“The investigation and disciplinary committee of the council has now received Mr Penn’s report and considered its contents. The committee found that the report leaves Mr Norman with no case to answer and accordingly on that basis his suspension should be lifted and he should be allowed to return to work forthwith.

“However, whilst Mr Norman was suspended, the council commenced a restructure of its officer team in order to achieve significant financial savings. Against that background, Mr Norman has indicated a wish to leave the employment of the council and the council has accepted this request. This forms part of the planned senior management restructure, which will enable the council to make an overall saving to contribute to the budget deficit.

“We wish to thank Mr Norman for his service to Wirral and wish him well for the future.”

Norman has received a total payment of £146,416. This comprised a termination payment of £112,848, a redundancy/severance payment of £28,568 and legal costs of £5,000. A further £5,000 in legal costs will be paid direct to his legal adviser.

The public interest report published in June concluded that there were a number of weaknesses in the council’s arrangement to award and manage the HESPE contract.