scottish Borders Council did not lie when it issued a statement last year claiming that former chief executive David Hume had retired from his £116,000-a-year job.
“I cannot stress enough that there was no redundancy whatsover,” wrote SBC’s head of legal services Ian Wilkie last week in a letter to an un-named member of the public who has used Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation to discover why Mr Hume left and how much cash he received.
Notwithstanding Mr Wilkie’s missive, the member of the public has learned that the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) is to investigate the case.
In early July last year, an SBC statement revealed: “After nine very successful years at SBC and following a change in his personal circumstances, David Hume will be retiring from his post ... with effect from Monday, August 15, 2011.”
It was also revealed Mr Hume was on sick leave and, in the event, he did not return to his office.
An Audit Scotland report into SBC of November 2011 noted: “... the chief executive left his post in August 2011, under the voluntary severance arrangements.”
Seeking clarification, the complainer used FoI to ask SBC if Mr Hume had retired or taken voluntary redundancy and requested information about any discussions relating to his departure and payments made.
In March he was told by Mr Wilkie, on behalf of SBC’s FoI advice group, that information on any discussions was not held by the council and that Mr Hume “retired ... under the council’s voluntary severance arrangements”.
In March, TheSouthern revealed that the complainer, based on what he perceived as an unclear response, believed SBC had lied in its original press statement and had thus taken the case to the SIC and also written to local government minister Derek MacKay. The latter’s office has since advised the complainer to go through established complaints procedures.
While the complainer waits to be contacted by an SIC investigation officer, Mr Wilkie wrote to him last week to say the FoI advice group had met to consider his latest request, filed in April.
“There is no discrepancy whatsoever regarding the information given to the media and the public regarding Mr Hume,” said Mr Wilkie. “He retired from SBC in accordance with the council’s voluntary severance arrangements. That is a retirement ... I can confirm he did not take voluntary redundancy.”