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Mr J Osman
Somerset County Council
County Hall
Dear John,
You will recall at last weeks Council Meeting that the critical comments of Eric
Pickles regarding Peter Lewiss pay arrangements were put to you. To remind you,
the Secretary of State said
the government would take action against councils that failed to keep excessive
salaries and dubious pay arrangements in check. Weve changed the law to reduce
secrecy on town-hall pay deals and given elected councillors the power to veto
excessive senior pay. Councillors now need to use these powers and they should be
held to account if they turn a blind eye
You rebutted these comments by describing the question posed to Mr Pickles as
misleading and loaded. The comments above were reported by the Sunday Times
on 24th August 2014. Mr Pickles comments were provided to the Sunday Times over
a day after full details of Mr Lewiss case, including the fact that Mr Lewis was
employed via an agency and not directly by the Council, were provided to Mr Pickles
office. This completely demolishes the argument that you made last Wednesday.
Mr Pickless statement was given in the full knowledge of all the facts and not in
response to a question that was loaded or misleading.
Furthermore, you claimed that the required insurance for an interim Director of
Childrens Services was only available to be delivered through these service
companies. The first insurance company I called this morning made it abundantly
clear that this is not true either. They explained to me that there would be no
difference, in access or premiums, between an individuals personal service company

or an individual alone. This relates to both professional indemnity insurance and

public liability insurance, both of which they recommended be taken. I can confirm
that cover would be available at the level of 5m+ that you quoted. One phone call,
John. It is also perfectly possible that Penna could have held the insurance on Mr
Lewis behalf. Perhaps the reason that this did not happen is because the total
liability of Mr Lewiss company, StubbsStorey, is just 2.
You refer to the fact that there is a shortage of Directors of Childrens Services and
that a substantial number of interim DCSs up and down the UK are all paid via
personal service companies. I cant help but think that the two issues are closely
related. If there is such a shortage, what a jolly wheeze: why take up a permanent
post when you can float around the country as an interim, paid vastly above the rate
of permanent employees, especially when councils such as Somerset allow the huge
tax advantage of pay via personal service companies?
You also appear to be unaware of the workings of Parliament. Tessa Munt MP has
not been selected in the 2014/15 ballot for Private Members Bills and so it is not
open to her to put forward a bill right now. A simple search on Google, apparently
your favoured search engine, would have made this clear to you.
So, in conclusion, it would appear that almost nothing that you said in your eight
minute speech is true. This is deeply ironic given your concluding exhortation to
everyone else not to make statements unless you are 120% sure of their accuracy.
I am left with one question, Did you just not bother to check your facts before
making your statement or did you deliberately set out to mislead the council?
Either way, once again, John, you owe us all an apology.
Yours sincerely,

Mike Rigby
Somerset County Councillor
Lydeard Division

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