We have received an update from the BMA Board of Directors on the actions that have been taken on the matter of claims for spousal travel expenses. We share it in full below. The inquiry represents progress in resolving the governance issues highlighted by the discovery of the spousal expenses payments. We are also beginning to ask questions about the Lock Club, a dinner club for ex-Chief Officers of which we were initially not aware, and are supportive of other Council members asking legitimate questions.
“An inquiry of the matter is underway. It is being conducted by Jacques Cadranel, who is a non-executive member of the BMA Audit and Risk committee. It is planned that the findings of the inquiry will be reported back to the Board of Directors by Friday 10 May, and (through the Board) to Council by Wednesday 15 May.
The inquiry will examine the historic expense payments made by the BMA to chief officers to fund the attendance of their spouses at oversees events at which the chief officers were representing the Association. It’s scope will include a review of:
- relevant BMA policies to establish whether any permit/permitted spousal travel claims and, if so, who developed and approved them.
- current expenses policies to determine if spousal travel claims are permitted or whether any previous policies that permitted them have been superseded.
- chief officer role profiles relating to spousal expenses, including an account of any inconsistencies between them.
- expense claims to examine compliance with policies and contracts, both by claimants and those who processed and approved claims.
- the role of “custom and practice” in the payment of these expenses.
- the cost to the Association resulting from the payment of these expenses, including the potential tax (and any other) liability.
- the role of internal and external auditors in identifying liabilities and, if failings are found, recommendation for ensuring they are not repeated.
- the decision to pay the tax liability when it was recently identified and the process that was followed.
The findings of the enquiry will feed into a wider of review into BMA policies, practices and processes that is to begin shortly.
In addition, to the inquiry, we have already taken the following actions on the matter:
- Ceased any claims for or payments of spousal expenses.
- Procured specialist advice on the legal basis for repayment and the associations tax liability.
- Written to eight past chief officers to inform them of the concerns raised and publicity and to invite them to make full or partial repayments or equivalent donations to BMA Giving.
- Ceased funding of the Lock Club, a dinner club for past Chief Officers.”