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Council's audit boss under investigation
A council boss responsible for keeping thousands of staff in check has been suspended for alleged misconduct.
Ian Withers has been head of audit and business risk at Brighton and Hove City Council since December 2002.
But The Argus understands the man who is paid to follow up claims of fraud and wrong-doing within the local authority is under investigation.
Sources claim the issue is focused on misleading elected officials in public reports on sensitive matters.
In a statement, a council spokeswoman said: “We can’t comment on individual employee issues.”
But a town hall insider said: “As head of audit any claims like this are very serious.
“It doesn’t say much about the authority when these allegations are made against someone in that position.”
Mr Withers, who has been employed by the local authority since 1997, is not listed on the council’s list of top earners.
However it is understood he receives more than £50,000 a year.
There is no mention of Mr Withers in the council’s official minutes for the last audit committee in September.
One worker said he had “disappeared” and not been seen in town hall offices for “a couple of months”.
According to Mr Withers’ account on social media website LinkedIn, he is a “successful Head of Internal Audit with a demonstrable track record of leading high quality and effective audit services with a reputation for excellence and contributing to effective governance and business change”.
The profile adds he is responsible for internal audit, risk management and corporate counter fraud.
In an official report on the 2012/13 financial year, Mr Withers said his team had received and investigated 164 fraud referrals of suspected fraud and irregularities. Among the closed cases included an employee dismissed for housing benefit fraud who was then successfully prosecuted in the courts.
It also includes one member of staff dismissed for theft and two who resigned while under investigation.
The team also recovered 111 concessionary bus fares which were potentially in use after their owner had died.
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