Ex-Caerphilly council leader expects to be cleared of allegations

David Poole Image copyright Caerphilly Council
Image caption David Poole had been Labour leader of Caerphilly council since May 2017

A council leader who stepped down last month pending an inquiry has told colleagues he expects to be cleared of any accusations against him.

David Poole faces a probe into whether he properly declared his interest in a firm given £38.5m of public funds from the Cardiff Capital Region city deal.

As leader of Caerphilly council, Mr Poole sat in the region's cabinet.

In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said his decision to step down was "a temporary one".

However, a source within the Labour Party said that was "not the view of the group".

Mr Poole, who had been leader for two years, resigned after referring himself to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Caerphilly council said a matter had been brought to its attention involving the leader which required "further investigation".

BBC Wales has learned that it concerns his holding of shares in the high-tech manufacturer IQE.

Mr Poole has reportedly said he bought the shares in late 2018 - a year after the city deal investment was agreed - and was advised he did not need to declare it.

In his email to Labour colleagues, Mr Poole said he felt "angry and upset" to resign, but felt it was the "honourable course of action to take" while his actions were investigated.

"I honestly believe that I will be found to be innocent of any of the accusations that have been made against me," he wrote.

"So in the immediate future, I hope members will reflect on how I have brought the group together and worked in everyone's best interest and will continue to do so in the future.

"Therefore in the short time that this investigation is likely to take, I trust members will consider my decision to withdraw from the position of leader as a temporary one."

Councillor Barbara Jones has been appointed interim leader, with the process to select and appoint a new leader due to take place over the coming weeks.

Mr Poole has been contacted for comment.

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