Dundees first woman lord provost sacked over cash row

21 Jun 01
The first female lord provost of Dundee has been sacked following a row over the claiming back of money used for charitable donations.

22 June 2001

Labour councillor Helen Wright, who was halfway through her four-year term of office, is the first lord provost in Dundee to be forced out.

Opposition SNP and Conservative councillors combined on June 18 to produce a 15–14 majority to remove her on the grounds that she had failed to meet the expected high standards of behaviour and action.

The vote was swung by the surprise appearance of Conservative councillor Neil Powrie just three days after being discharged from hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for cancer.

The road to Wright's removal began with the disclosure that she had reclaimed £329 in donations to churches and charities from petty cash during the last financial year.

The deposed provost had initially been informed she could not claim back such donations on expenses, but went on to reclaim money from a petty cash account. The cash included £10 given at the funeral of First Minister Donald Dewar and £2 donated on Dundee Poverty in Action day.

Wright, who has been a councillor for 21 years, told the council the donations had been made on behalf of the city and her actions were 'based on a genuine and honest misunderstanding' over procedures.

'Had I believed I had knowingly done something wrong I would have bowed to the pressure and resigned but, as the records clearly show, my mistake was an honest one,' she said. 'I did not personally benefit and at all times my actions were open, accountable and subject to the scrutiny of council procedures.'

Wright, who insists she will continue as a councillor, has threatened SNP councillor Willie Sawers with legal action for defamation over comments made to newspapers.


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