Minister agreed sport bosss £0.5m payoff

28 Feb 02
Details have emerged of a spat involving the Treasury, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and sports minister Richard Caborn over the departure of Sport England's chief executive with a payoff of nearly half a million pounds.

01 March 2002

A National Audit Office report, published on February 26, said that the DCMS and Treasury had 'reluctantly agreed' after legal advice to rubber-stamp a £494,000 severance package for Sport England's Derek Casey, negotiated by Caborn.

Casey agreed to leave Sport England last June after Caborn had made it clear that he wanted a different chief executive to drive through proposed changes.

But the report suggests that Caborn's impatience to move Casey aside led the minister to agree a severance deal that was far more than the Treasury and DCMS were comfortable with.

Caborn met with Sport England chair Trevor Brooking on June 14 to discuss Casey's departure and, the report says, Brooking 'was left with a clear view that the minister had approved the severance package'.

According to the report, however, the DCMS and Treasury, which must sign off such payments, later expressed 'concerns about the regularity of the process and the scale of the departure package'. Casey received a lump-sum payment of £157,000 for the remainder of his contract – which was due to expire in 2003 – and will also secure around £334,000 in pension payments, plus other minor benefits.

Sport England has confirmed that the payment would be taken from its exchequer funding and not from its lottery cash.

Sir John Bourn, comptroller and auditor general of the NAO, said that the two government departments agreed to Casey's payment because a legal challenge would have risked 'incurring significant extra costs for the taxpayer'.

The DCMS refused to comment on Caborn's role in the affair but added that 'the department does not disagree with the contents of the NAO report'.

Bourn did not qualify Sports England's 2000/01 accounts, despite the row.


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