Legal costs of the Indemnity Partnership with RiverOak

Andrew McCulloch made this Freedom of Information request to Thanet District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Thanet District Council,

On 02 February 2015 at the Transport Select Committee meeting on Smaller airports and the closure of Manston, Karen Lumley MP asked "How much would you estimate that it has cost the taxpayers of Thanet so far in the extra advice you have received?"

Councillor Johnston replied "We commissioned a report from Falcon, who are a reputable company. I think it was £26,000." Madeline Homer confirmed "The total cost that Thanet district council has spent on seeking advice on this matter is £26,000."

Later in the same meeting Martin Vickers MP opined "You don’t get a lot of legal advice for £26,000."

In their Final Report on this matter, the Transport Select Committee stated that "TDC told us that it spent £26,000 on legal advice in relation to the proposed CPO. That sum was unlikely to provide TDC with adequate advice in relation to indemnification by a US company or to allow it to understand RiverOak's business plan and operating model."

At the TDC Council Meeting on 3rd December 2015, in answer to a question from a Thanet resident, Council Leader Chris Wells answered;

Regarding TDC Legal Fees re the CPO :
£3,180 was paid out under Leader Iris Johnston, to December 2014; and
£8,151 under Leader Chris Wells, plus small additional amount to come, to date.

There is some discrepancy here between the figure provided by TWO senior Council representatives to the Transport Select Committee and the figures quoted by Councillor Wells at the full Council meeting on 3rd December 2015. Therefore;

1) Please provide the full cost to TDC of the Falcon Report
2) Please provide a breakdown (ie to whom the money was paid and how much) of all legal costs incurred by TDC in seeking legal advice regarding the proposed CPO of Manston Airport as follows;
a) between the 1st April 2014 and the Cabinet decision of 11th December 2014
b) between the 12th December 2014 and the 9th May 2015
c) between the 10th May 2015 and the present date.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew McCulloch

Pauline McGandy, Thanet District Council

Ref No:84081
Subject:Legal Costs - Indemnity Partnership With Riveroak
Dear Mr McCulloch
Thank you for your correspondence of 05/12/2015 requesting information
about legal costs of the indemnity partnership with Riveroak.
Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within 20 working days. 
If you have any queries about this request, please contact me quoting the
reference number above.
Yours sincerely,
Pauline McGandy
Customer Contact Officer

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Tim Howes, Thanet District Council

Ref No: 84081/3173168
Subject:        Legal Costs - Indemnity Partnership With Riveroak
Dear Mr McCulloch
Thank you for your communication received on 05/12/2015 where you
requested information about legal and other costs relating to a manston
The information you requested is enclosed.
1. The full cost of the Falcon report was £13,500 a further £1099.75 was
paid to Falcon for them to meet with Sir Roger Gale MP.
2. (a) Between 1/4/14 and 11/12/14 - £2160 was paid to Guy Williams,
Barrister and £1656 was paid to Ewan West, Barrister.
2. (b) Between the 12/12/14 and the 9/5/15 no legal costs were paid.
2. (c) Between the the 10/5/15 and the present date - £2460 was paid to
Guy Williams, Barrister and £10306.80 was paid to Sharpe Pritchard,
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
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submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Information Request Assessor,
Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1XZ, or
email to [email address]
Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.
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decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
Yours sincerely,
Tim Howes
Director of Corporate Governance

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Andrew McCulloch left an annotation ()

At the Transport Select Committee hearing on 2nd February 2015 Madeline Homer, the acting Chief Executive of TDC told the Committee that the Council had spent £26,000 on legal advice. One of the Committee members opined that you don't get much legal advice for £26,000.
This FoI has revealed that, by the 2nd February 2015, TDC had actually spent only £3816 on legal advice, and £14599.75 on the flawed Falcon report. Since UKIP have assumed control of TDC this FoI has revealed that a total of £12766.80 has been paid in legal fees on the CPO – a grand total of £16582.80; £.31182.55 including the Falcon report.
At the meeting of the full Council, Chris Wells, Leader of TDC, responded to a question from a member of the public and stated that a total of £3180 had been spent up until December 2014, with a further £8151 paid subsequently; a total of £11331.
It is a matter of some concern that Thanet District Council do not seem to have any firm idea of exactly how much money they have spent on legal fees.
According to Iris Johnston and Madeline Homer in evidence to the Transport Select Committee on 2nd February 2015, the total to date was £26,000; according to this FoI the true figure is £3816, plus £14599.75 for the Falcon Report
According to Chris Wells on 3rd December 2015, the figure up until December 2014 was £3180; the FoI reveals this figure to be £3816,
According to Chris Wells on 3rd December 2015, UKIP have spent £8151; the FoI shows that this figure is £12766.80
Draw your own conclusions