Birmingham & Black Country

Sandwell Council: Ex-housing chief investigated over mum's house

Simon Hackett
Image caption Councillor Simon Hackett said the allegations were 'totally without foundation'

An investigation has been launched into an allegation a senior councillor urged his authority to buy back his mother's previously council-owned home.

Sandwell's former housing chief Simon Hackett is also alleged to have indecently exposed himself and asked for a parking ticket for a "relative or close associate" to be cancelled.

Mr Hackett denied the allegations, which he dubbed "completely untrue".

However, whistle-blowing referrals seen by the BBC are being investigated.

A referral dated 18 March alleged a report was prepared for the council to consider whether to buy back the house in Barncroft Street, Hill Top, Wednesbury.

It was withdrawn after a council employee raised concerns the house belonged to Mr Hackett's mother.

'Protect name'

An earlier referral to the council dated 6 March alleged Mr Hackett indecently exposed himself in a public road and was issued with a fixed penalty notice by the council's wardens rather than reported to police.

It is also alleged he "forced officers/put undue pressure on staff regarding housing allocations and repairs".

A further letter dated 18 March alleged he asked for a parking ticket to be reviewed for a relative or close associate after they unsuccessfully appealed.

Mr Hackett, now overseeing children's services, said the allegations were "totally without foundation".

"I am taking legal advice on how to respond and I will not hesitate to take action if necessary in order to protect my good name".

Image caption Council chief executive Jan Britton said these allegations may be referred to the authority's standards committee

Jan Britton, the council's chief executive, said a "number of referrals making allegation about Mr Hackett" were being investigated.

These allegations come days after the findings of a 15-month investigation by a law firm into the sale of the Labour-run authority's former properties were published.

Solicitors suggested the authority's former deputy leader Mahboob Hussain, now suspended by Labour but who denies wrongdoing, allegedly breached the council code of conduct on six occasions.

Mr Britton told the BBC the council spent £200,000 on solicitors to "fully investigate these [earlier] serious allegations".

The council also brought in a top lawyer, James Goudie QC, to advise it on whether it could publish the solicitors' work.

He concluded it was "in the public interest" but his costs are not yet known.

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