Harris Cleared In Cab Fare Probe

9:30am Thursday 4th January 2001

January 4, 2001 15:40: FORMER Haringey Council leader lord Toby Harris has been cleared of any wrongdoings in claiming expenses for taxis.

The District Auditor was called to investigate possible fraud after Cllr Harris's cab bill amounted to more than 80 per cent of all members' taxi costs.

But after a detailed inquiry into the £15,000 bill the auditor had no criticism of councillor Harris although he pointed out weaknesses in the system.

Cllr Harris ran up the bill as leader of the Association of Local Government (ALG) in the financial year 1999/2000.

But under the system he was not required to sign invoices and claimed he had no idea of the cost of his journeys.

He said: I am pleased with the verdict. I have been quite clear that I had no idea the bills were as high as they were.

And I am no longer making any claims as I am now on the Greater London Assembly.

Two companies Cavendish Cars and RadioTaxis were employed to supply taxis in an effort to reduce costs.

But the council was criticised for not going far enough in ensuring best value in the choice of companies.

It was also slammed for a lack of documentation kept by officers and only providing vague guidelines for councillors.

Councillors' use of mobile phones also came under fire, the auditor claiming they are too freely distributed by the council.

More than £11,500 was spent over the same period by 24 councillors with £2,320 spent by Cllr Richard Reynolds.

Again, although councillors themselves were not criticised by the auditor, clearer guidance and control was called for to limit cost.

And the use of cash cheques for reimbursement of councillors' private use of mobile phones was to be stopped immediately.

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