Leaked letter shows MP Mackintosh apologising for his role in failed Northampton Town loan

Under fire Northampton South MP David Mackintosh has apologised for his part in the Sixfields fiasco in a leaked letter sent to councillors ahead of tonight's audit committee.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 1:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:52 pm
David Mackintosh has apologised for his role in the Sixfields loan debacle in a leaked letter sent to councillors on tonight's audit committee.

The damning report produced by PricewaterhouseCooper, which looked at Northampton Borough Council's role in lending the Cobblers £10.25 million in 2013 and 2014, criticised Mr Mackintosh for applying pressure on officers to get a loan deal drawn up when he was borough council leader.

However the statement he issued on the day the report was published sought to lay blame at the door of the authority's officers and he did not respond to further questions put to him by the Chronicle & Echo.

On Friday, following the Chron's front page comment piece calling for Mr Mackintosh to take some responsibility for what happened, leading Tories in Northampton said the lack of contrition for his part in the fiasco was damaging the reputation of Conservative party in the town.

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The Chronicle & Echo front page for December 1.

But the MP appears to have changed tact today. In a statement given to the BBC this morning, he said: "I apologise for the part I played in the granting of the loan to Northampton Town Football Club, and I am sorry that our efforts to support the club ended as they did."

However, he has refuted the suggestion he pressured officers into getting a deal done.

And in a leaked letter sent to all the councillors on tonight's audit committee, in which the PwC report will be discussed, Mr Mackintosh apologises three times.

The letter is dated Friday, December 2, the day after the Chron called for Mr Mackintosh to "take some responsibility" in a front-page editorial.

The Chronicle & Echo front page for December 1.

"I once again take this opportunity to apologise for any part I played in the agreement of this loan," the letter said.

"Why were there no formal governance arrangements in place to monitor the loan or work?" he writes in the letter. "I believe this is a role for officers with a statutory responsibility rather than a role for the cabinet, but I believe failures must be acknowledged by councillors in cabinet and scrutiny for failing to spot this and for my part in that I apologise."

He said he was never made aware that the previous Liberal Democrat administration refused a loan to the football club in 2009 on the grounds of it being "unacceptably risky."

On PwC's assertion that officers were pressured into rushing through a flawed loan deal, he said: "If officers felt that they did not have sufficient time to properly complete the background checks and legal preparations then why was this never raised with the leader or cabinet? I do not recall ever being told that more time was required for this."

The audit committee is set to take place at the Guildhall at 6pm this evening.