Westminster procedures

Your correspondent, Leslie Wolfson (The Lawyer, 7 October), may not understand the district auditor procedure, generally or specifically, in relation to Westminster City Council.

Far from being a witch-hunt on "hapless councillors", the investigation by Mr Magill was thorough, taking seven years to complete, involving the study of over 10,000 documents, despite attempts to obstruct his inquiry, by, for example, the shredding of key material.

Dame Shirley Porter was offered no less than 12 opportunities to put her case to the auditor in private, but it is now, once her appeal is in court, that evidence is being given by Dame Shirley in public, as she declined the chance to give evidence to the public inquiry.

The procedure which led to the surcharge of the Westminster councillors and officers was introduced by the former Conservative government, and it hardly behoves them now to complain about how the procedure is being operated against Conservative councillors.

The victims of the gerrymandering designated sales policy equally should not be forgotten: the homeless people, housed in asbestos-ridden tower blocks or deported to other parts of London or further afield; the leaseholders, sold flats which have now proved unsaleable with negative equity and accumulating bills for major works; the taxpayers of Westminster; and democracy itself – for without democracy one can't have "equity and law", Mr Wolfson.

Andrew Dismore MP

House of Commons

London SW1.