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Full internal expenses report to be published

27th Dec 2014

A full report into the dispute over expenses that led to the chief executive resigning last month will be published by the Legal Ombudsman’s office.

In November, Adam Sampson resigned as chief executive and chief ombudsman over accounts that were presented to the Ministry of Justice in June. Expenses were claimed for work trips between his London home and Birmingham office, with Sampson claiming £20,000 over a total of five years. Sampson has confirmed these expenses and denies doing anything wrong, saying that the arrangement had been in place for four years before any issues were raised.

Last month, the Law Society made a freedom of information request to the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) to ask if the money has been paid back, and who authorised the payment. The OLC has refused requests to reveal at this time how much has been repaid of the disputed amount, if any.

Their response did confirm that the process is ‘ongoing’ for presenting the OLC’s annual report, including an assessment of expenses, before parliament. It also confirmed that an internal report on the expenses process has been completed, including details of when the questions of validity were first raised, and who agreed to the payments. The report will be published at some point in the future.

A spokesperson for the ombudsman said that at this time, it is ‘right and proper’ that the information requested was withheld from the public, as the intention is to publish it in the future.

A report has been published by a working group set up by the Legal Ombudsman stating that in some instances of complaints by third-parties, access to redress would be ‘helpful’. Elisabeth Davies, chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, said that this would be welcome, and that the OLC’s agreement with such a principle was ‘an important breakthrough’.