Sean Ashe, CEO of KWETB
Sean Ashe and Cllr Jim Ruttle, the CEO and Vice-Chairman respectively of the KWETB have this evening refused to answer questions put to them by members of the Public Accounts Committee citing a fear of compromising an investigation which is taking place into its work.
The investigation was ordered in early October by the Department of Education after it and the Comptroller and Auditor General failed to get satisfactory answers from the KWETB in relation to certain matters.
Mr Ashe has revealed that he was advised by Dr Richard Thorn who is carrying out the investigation not to answer any questions which might compromise the investigation.
This has angered members of the Public Accounts Commitee, as well as its chairman, Deputy Sean Fleming.
It should be added that Councillor Ruttle has said he was not advised by Dr Thorn as to how to answer questions before the PAC.
The PAC members argue that the investigation is an internal departmental one and not a legal one and have insisted that Dr Thorn is incorrect to tell witnesses not to answer questions – and that they should answer them.
And one PAC member, Deputy David Cullinane, has even expressed the view that this move has compromised Dr Thorn’s investigation and that it “won’t be worth the paper it’s written on,” although the chairman, Deputy Fleming quickly insisted that this was a personal opinion only.
As of 5.30pm this evening, the PAC has suspended the public hearings to get legal advice.