Call for avenue of redress against auditors

Inept or malicious district auditors should be able to be sued if it is proved they have damaged the career of an individual, a barrister specialising in local government has claimed.

Elizabeth Andrew, a tenant at Devereux Chambers, says that while a council can sue for a negligent audit, an individual whose reputation is soiled by an inept or malicious auditor has no legal comeback.

Andrew's comments come as debate over the local government auditors' role intensifies. Dame Shirley Porter, the former leader of Westminster City Council, is calling for radical change to the powers of auditors after being implicated in the "homes for votes" scandal.

The former Conservative Party council leader, who faces a £31.5m surcharge, has attacked the auditor as "detective, prosecutor, witness, judge and jury" in a submission to the Nolan committee.

Dame Shirley also argues that surcharges are discriminatory as government ministers are exempt from similar penalties.