STAFF from Brighton and Hove Council will be collecting evidence for an independent review of a councillor's expenses, it has been confirmed.

Evidence in the probe into councillor Alex Phillips’ childcare expense claims will be assembled by a senior auditor who is employed by Brighton and Hove City Council. 

A spokesman confirmed that staff from the council will be involved “primarily in collating the evidence and preparing initial drafts”. 

However, officers from Surrey County Council and East Sussex County Council will be involved in the later stages of the investigation.

The investigation is being carried out by Orbis, a partnership of three councils that delivers internal audit and counter fraud services.

A spokesman said: “Through this partnership, internal audit staff from Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council and Surrey County Council are pooled into joint teams to maximise expertise and efficiency and improve value for money.   

“The evidence for the councillor expenses review will be assembled by a senior auditor in the Orbis internal audit service. This person is employed by Brighton and Hove City Council.

“They will then present the evidence to their manager, Simon White. Simon is a Surrey County council employee and counter fraud manager within the Orbis internal audit service. He will assess the evidence and make recommendations to his manager, Russell Banks. 

“Russell Banks is an East Sussex County Council employee and is the Orbis chief internal auditor. He will make any final recommendations and conclude the findings.

“Brighton and Hove City Council staff will be involved primarily in collating the evidence and preparing initial drafts. But the analysis and making of recommendations will be done by Simon White and Russell Banks.

“The Orbis internal audit service operates in accordance with public sector internal audit standards. At the heart of this is the requirement to maintain independence and objectivity in all of its activities, ensuring freedom from political interference.”

The independent review into Cllr Phillips and her husband, joint finance lead councillor Tom Druitt, was launched after allegations of irregularities in childcare claims.

Questions were raised concerning expense claims relating to the care of their children while the couple were in France during the coronavirus pandemic and when council meetings were held remotely.