Councillor in expenses probe

Emma McGurrin
Emma McGurrin

A WIGAN councillor is being probed over an alleged expenses fraud.

Labour’s Emma McGurrin faces investigation by a specially convened team from the town hall’s Internal Audit which is set to report by early summer.

It is examining cash claims going back over the last two years for financial assistance covering child care costs for her young daughter during the time she spends on official duties.

It is also claimed she took money paid to her for attendance at ‘street surgeries’ in resident’s homes, rather than in a conventional public venue setting.

The outspoken single mum - who was cleared last year after a Standards Committee investigation into claims by a cab company she racially abused one their British Asian taxi drivers - today strongly refuted any wrong-doing.

She claims she is the victim of a “stitch up” having been advised how and what expense claims she could submit but now faces action for doing just that.

Coun McGurrin alleges that the action is the council’s “revenge” for Standish Ward Labour Branch, only days earlier, voting to back her as the sole candidate on the selection panel to defend the seat for the party in the next local authority elections.

Council bosses say they acted swiftly as soon as the allegations came to light.

Council leader Lord Smith said: “As soon as we became aware of this problem, the deputy leader and I met with Coun McGurrin and advised her to co-operate with the inquiry.

“She stated that she would.

“We are not involved in the inquiry but believe it should be left to run its course.

“Only at that stage will it be possible to determine if and what further action is required.”

Director of resources at Wigan Council Paul McKevitt confirmed that the police have not been made aware of the issue but are not currently investigating.

She said: “Coun McGurrin is co-operating with our internal audit team to clarify discrepancies in recent expenses claims.”

Coun McGurrin said that leading councillors and chief officers had informed her of what expenses she should claim and “over saw it and signed it off.”

“I’ll show, yet again, I’ve done nothing wrong and I’ve been paying out of my own pocket for childcare all this time until council officers said I can claim this years back so I want to ask what about all the money I spent before that,” she said.

“I want to know about all the work I have done in Standish with all the surgeries I have held but now they are saying, that doesn’t count, only what you do at the town hall counts.

“I want to know why my expenses have been signed off in their hand writing and now I have supposedly done something wrong?

“Its clear to me that they have never had anybody before who is so challenging and I have been mislead into a situation where I am now under investigation.”