Former mayoress is cleared after investigation into expense claims

Judith Atherton
Judith Atherton

A FORMER mayoress has been cleared of expense fraud allegations.

Standish Conservative Councillor Judith Atherton - who finished her term as Mayoress in May - was the subject of an 18-month investigation by Wigan Council and the Standards Committee.

They ruled that the council’s code of conduct had not been broken by Coun Atherton and that the matter was now concluded.

In a statement issued on her behalf, the Wigan Conservative Federation said: “This particular matter has been investigated fully by Wigan Council, at expense to the taxpayer, and a report has gone to the Standards Committee.

“The committee ruled that the code of conduct had not been broken. Therefore this matter is closed.”

And John Mitchell, Wigan Council’s head of legal services, said: “I can confirm that the matter concerning Coun Atherton is closed and any outstanding issues have been resolved.”

However, we can reveal that a complaint has been made to the national Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by her former political rival Gareth Fairhurst, leader of Wigan Independent Conservatives who acrimoniously split with the Tory group.

Mr Fairhurst, who lost his own seat in the May elections, is asking for the DPP to investigate the allegations which have already been heard by the council.

Mr Fairhurst said he had asked Greater Manchester Police to investigate the matter last year but was told that they wouldn’t investigate because it was “an internal matter” for the council to resolve.

He says he has called on the DPP to investigate after taking independent legal advice about the options open to him.