Council chiefs cleared a mayor of alleged impropriety despite major questions about her conduct being left unresolved.
Last year Brighton and Hove city councillor Anne Meadows was suspended by the Labour party after she was accused of personally profiting while in the role as the city’s mayor in 2011/12.
The Argus can now exclusively reveal that a lengthy town hall investigation took place after the Labour councillor took home a set of £500 speakers donated to her office.
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A leaked letter, written by the council’s head of law Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis, admitted it was “difficult to reconcile the conflicting accounts” but ended the probe because it was “not likely to be in anyone’s interests”.
The allegations centre on a £500 Beolit 12 sound dock donated to the mayor’s charities at the opening of the Bang and Olufsen store in Church Road, Hove, in March 2012.
Following the revelation a town hall source told The Argus the matter “should have been reported to the police to carry out the investigation”.
The letter, addressed to Coun Meadows and seen by The Argus, said: “There is no dispute you took this home with you on this day”.
However, the letter continued it was unclear what happened afterwards.
Coun Meadows first claimed her husband had the speakers and then said they had been taken to Sussex Beacon’s offices in Bevendean Road, Brighton.
She admitted she did not have a receipt as proof of the donation but provided letters from those employed by the charity at the time to confirm it had accounting errors.
The letter went on to say the council had been left in an “unsatisfactory position”, adding: “I do not believe that further investigation, whether by the police or the council, is likely to be in anyone’s interests.”
The letter also said Coun Meadows’ actions had left her, the council and the mayoralty “vulnerable to accusations or suspicion of impropriety, which is regrettable”.
When contacted by The Argus, Coun Meadows, who is currently awaiting reselection as a Labour candidate in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, said: “I cannot believe this has come back, someone really has it in for me. I’m sick and tired of being disbelieved. People are doing this to get someone else in my seat.”