Kingston has spent nothing on overdue inquiry into porn scandal

Kingston Council has yet to spend a single penny on its years-overdue investigation into the activities of its disgraced former leader Derek Osbourne while he was in office.

Ex-Lib Dem councillor Osbourne, who led the authority for a decade before being convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography in 2013, says he is being “persecuted” by his former employer and claims the council is deliberately prolonging the investigation for party political reasons.

The council’s internal inquiry began in July 2014 and is now in its third year. A budget of £10,000 was allocated for the probe but a Freedom of Information Act request by the Kingston Courier has revealed that the money is still totally untouched.

Andrew Bessant, the council’s head of corporate governance, told the Courier: “As yet, no direct expenditure has been incurred by the Council in undertaking the investigation into the conduct of Derek Osbourne. A certain amount of officer time has been involved in connection with the investigation but this hasn’t been recorded separately and wouldn’t be regarded as additional expenditure incurred by the Council.”

A spokeswoman for Kingston Council said: “We are following due process and ensuring our investigation is thorough.”

In his first full-length interview since his downfall, Derek Osbourne said the council was stringing out the inquiry in order to revive the scandal at next year’s local elections. In separate emails to the Courier, he accused the council of leaking information about him to the media.

Osbourne told the Courier: “I must admit that I do feel that I and my family are being persecuted by the council – out of spite or for political benefit, who knows?

“When I was rearrested in November 2015, the story was leaked to the Surrey Comet within half an hour of the council being told in spite of the fact that the council knew I had a child of 15 and that unwelcome publicity could put the family at risk.

“I complained about the leak as soon as it happened and have raised it since with the council – they have been utterly silent on the issue.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of this claim and are looking into it as part of our ongoing investigation. As yet we have not found any evidence that supports this allegation.”

Surrey Comet group editor Andy Parkes said: “We do not reveal our sources.”

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