Ex-SBC chief’s pay-off will be revealed – in July

SBC cheif executive David Hume.
SBC cheif executive David Hume.

DETAILS of the financial settlement which former Scottish Borders Council chief executive David Hume received when he unexpectedly left his post last year will be made public.

A spokesman at Newtown St Boswells confirmed this week that the local authority was required to publish the 59-year-old’s pay, severance and pension benefits in its annual accounts for 2011/12 which will be open for inspection in July.

But the council is still refusing to publish these details in advance and this week’s announcement has failed to placate the Borderer who, as reported last week, has twice unsuccessfully attempted to use Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation to get to the truth.

And the man, who does not wish to be named, has this week taken his complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner, claiming there has been a “cover-up” about the true nature of Mr Hume’s departure.

He has also written to Scottish local government minister Derek Mackay asking for an independent inquiry to be launched into the way his requests were dealt with, alleging the council had “lied” by stating in July last year that Mr Hume had retired from his £123,000-a-year post.

In his letter to the commissioner, the complainer alludes to a council press release, issued on July 1 last year, which stated: “After nine very successful years at SBC and following a change in his personal circumstances, David Hume will be retiring from his post as chief executive with effect from Monday, August 15, 2011.”

The complainer goes on: “On February 3, 2012, SBC replied to my [FoI] request, refusing to publish any information ... and refused to confirm my enquiry on whether Mr Hume retired or whether he took voluntary redundancy. On February 6, I asked SBC for a review of this decision and on March 7, following the review, I was told again the information would not be published.

“They did, however, confirm that Mr Hume did not retire as per the announcement in the original press release and that Mr Hume had taken voluntary redundancy.

“This is clearly a cover-up and the council has lied to the public and media.”

In his letter to Mr Mackay, the member of the public states: “I knew the SBC press release was full of false information and I knew Mr Hume had not retired.

“It cannot be acceptable for a Scottish council to lie to constituents, taxpayers and the media about the retirement of senior officials and cover up payouts of public money. The financial arrangements of voluntary redundancy are very different to those applied to retirement.

“We all deserve a full explanation about why SBC felt they needed to lie in a press release and cover up Mr Hume’s voluntary redundancy.”

Mr Hume has, as reported last week, been informed of TheSouthern’s request for a comment, but has still not contacted us.

An SBC spokesman said yesterday: “The decision of the council’s Freedom of Information advice group still stands. The council will be required to publish Mr Hume’s 2011/12 pay, severance and pension benefits in its annual accounts. The accounts will be open for public inspection in July 2012.

“Until then, it would not be appropriate for this information to be released for the reasons already stated.”