Chief Legal Ombudsman resigns following accounts controversy

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Chief legal ombudsman Adam Sampson has resigned from his post after a travel expenses controversy opened his organisation to a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation.

According to Legal Futures, a report delivered by independent investigators Simmons & Simmons upheld Sampson’s honesty and integrity. But Sampson has upheld his resignation, saying that “an ombudsman must be a figure above controversy”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) suspended Sampson last Thursday over the controversy, which revolved wholly around Sampson’s train expense claims, totalling some £20,000 over five years. The arrangement has been duped as “novel and contentious” by the NAO despite being signed off for four consecutive years.

Unwilling to uproot his family from London to Birmingham, where the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) operates, Sampson commuted to Birmingham every Monday and stayed in a hotel – all at his own expense. However, with meetings demanding his attendance in the capital for one or two days a week, LeO agreed to cover expenses to and from London. In London, Sampson stayed with his family and did not claim accommodation expenses. Returning to London each Friday, he again paid for his own transport.

Elizabeth France, the former chair of the Office for Legal Complaints, who approved the travel arrangements, said that she was not aware of anything that questioned Sampson’s integrity, adding that she believed the arrangement was “a pragmatic interpretation of the travel and subsistence rules”.

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