Two senior councillors have been ordered to step down from their high profile cabinet positions and referred to the council’s Standards Committee.
Denise Saliagopoulos, previously cabinet member for community services and 2012 Olympics and Ian Lake, Head of Transport and Environment, have been asked to stand down by Leader of the Council, David Hodge.
In a statement on March 6, Mr Hodge said: “I have today required Ian Lake and Denise Saliagopoulos to stand down from the Cabinet. This decision relates to matters that are now being referred to the council’s Standards Committee.”
Mr Hodge has refused to give any further details about the sackings and Mrs Saliagopoulos said: “David Hodge as Leader has the gift to fire any cabinet member as and when he wants to, simple as that.”
Last week it was revealed that Denise Saliagopoulos, councillor for Staines and Ian Lake, representative for Weybridge, were both directors of Charter House Chancery, a company offering hospitality packages for the Olympics.
Charter House Chancery Ltd was set up over a year ago to develop business partnerships between UK business and other countries, but more recently the company has been involved in providing packages for overseas visitors during the 2012 Olympics.
It is alleged that the councillors did not declare this to Surrey County Council until last month, however both dismissed councillors denied any wrongdoing despite their involvement in the private company and are considering legal action.
Mrs Saliagopoulos, a councillor since 2001, said: “I have derived no personal benefit whatsoever. Nor did I ever seek to.”
The shock dismissal comes just four months before the Olympics are set to hit the capital and Saliagopoulos has been removed from her lead role as member for the 2012 Games.
Mrs Saliagopoulos’ portfolio includes various Olympic-related triumphs, she said: “I leave having achieved great things in Surrey, including bringing in more than 30 Olympic teams to train in the local area and Surrey businesses have also won more than £740 million of Olympic related contracts.”
Ms Saliagopoulos said: “I look forward to attending the Standards Committee to clear my name. I welcome the opportunity to defend my integrity and reputation.”
Meanwhile, Surrey County Council leader David Hodge recently announced that John Furey and Denise Le Gal would be joining the cabinet and taking over as head of transport and environment, and change and Efficiency respectively.
Cllr Helyn Clack will be replacing Mrs Saliagopoulos through taking on responsibility for community services and the 2012 Games.
Mr Hodge said: “I’m sure they will be a great asset to Surrey and will help the council go from strength to strength.”