Councillor in hot water over misuse of public funds

The Corporation
The Corporation

A COMMON Councillor has been forced to apologise after using public funds to print off election leaflets promoting his candidacy.

Bishopsgate Ward representative Prem Goyal said he “sincerely regrets” not undertaking training on members’ code of conduct prior to using the Corporation’s printing facilities ahead of his joining the race to become the next Alderman of Portsoken.

Mr Goyal’s case was dragged in front of the standards sub-committee on Monday after a complaint was lodged by Sir Michael Bear, the outgoing Portsoken Alderman – a post that will be contested in December.

In an email exchange seen by City Matters, Mr Goyal admits to printing an estimated 1,000 leaflets as he “did not have a fast printer” adding that he “didn’t think it would be an issue”.

He went on to explain that he did not plan to use the local authority’s equipment during the election expense-regulated campaign period that began on 14 November, and said that if he was found to have breached regulations then he would “happily” reimburse the City for costs incurred.

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Election material distributed by Prem Goyal ahead of the Portsoken aldermanic election on 14 December.

When contacted by comptroller and City solicitor Michael Cogher, Mr Goyal was charged with acting against the public’s interest and utilising Corporation resources for political purposes.

In his response, Mr Goyal said: “This situation has arisen due to my lack of experience as an elected member: my election on 23 March 2017, seven months ago, was the first time I was elected to public office.

“Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Corporation’s induction training on the members’ code of conduct for new members: I sincerely regret that.”

In a separate letter to new Lord Mayor Charles Bowman, Mr Goyal said his apology was “sincere and unreserved”.

He added: “I also undertake to the court that I will not at any time in the future use Corporation resources, including but not limited to, communication and printing facilities, meeting rooms, and hospitality and other privileges extended to me by the Corporation by virtue of my office for inappropriate purposes.”

The committee decided that in light of Mr Goyal’s compliance it would not proceed with an investigation, but he was ordered to attend training and refund expenditure for the leaflets.

A Corporation spokesperson said: “This matter has been dealt [with] and reported under our normal procedures and in a fully transparent matter.”