'Leader put his finances before public's interest'
County council leader David Parsons put his personal financial position above public interest, according to an independent investigator.
Solicitor Claire Lefort was asked by the authority to look into allegations the Tory politician had not promptly reimbursed travel expenses cash to Leicestershire County Council which he claimed for trips to Europe.
Yesterday, Ms Lefort's report was published as Coun Parsons was censured for breaching the members' code of conduct.
The report, considered by members of County Hall's standards committee, was highly critical of Coun Parsons.
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Ms Lefort said: "I consider he put his personal financial position above the public interest to the detriment of the public interest and the public purse."
She added that Coun Parsons did not make any attempt to settle his growing debt until council chief executive John Sinnott was informed, despite being told on numerous occasions to do so by other officials.
She said: "The debt he owed was not completely cleared until after the complaints giving rise to this investigation were made.
"I would have expected Coun Parsons to immediately arrange reimbursement when matters were brought to his attention on October 3, 2011."
She said it took him four months to clear the amount.
She said she was also concerned Coun Parsons sought to blame others for the problems with his expenses.
Ms Lafort said East Midlands Councils' internal finance arrangements were not robust, but added: "I am of the view Coun Parsons took advantage of these factors and personally benefited from them."
She found he failed to comply with the code where it says members' actions should not bring their office or authority into disrepute, use their position to confer an advantage." In a transcript of interviews carried out as part of the investigation, Coun Parsons was asked to describe his character.
He said: "Decisive. I don't do detail."
In the interviews, Mr Parsons claimed his wife, Liz, was in charge of the household finances. He said: "She runs all the finances. I could not tell you 10 per cent of my finances."
In the transcripts, he also referred to "dark forces that work within Leicestershire County Council" but did not elaborate.
Coun Parsons could also face another standards hearing over his use of the authority's chauffeur-driven car following a complaint by Coun Bill Boulter.