THE chairman of Dudley Council’s watchdog committee claimed he had ‘nothing to hide’ in a spat over a missing email.

Cllr Angus Lees found himself on the back foot in a debate at the Audit and Standards Committee meeting on Monday February 19.

He was asked by Cllr Shaukat Ali why he had not circulated an email to committee members that had been sent to the council leader, Cllr Patrick Harley, expressing their concerns about the outcome of an external audit.

Cllr Lees told the committee: “I couldn’t find it, I don’t keep emails.”

The question of the missing email arose after councillors saw on a progress tracker the issue was still outstanding from the committee’s meeting on December 6.

The saga began in July 2023 when the committee resolved to write to Cllr Harley and other senior council figures with a list of concerns and recommendations from committee members.

At a later meeting Cllr Lees agreed to send committee members a copy of the email along with the response to it.

After being told the email could not be found, Cllr Ali said: “That’s shocking, that is part of the governance issues we have.

“That’s a poor excuse, I don’t think our finger was on the pulse, that’s why things went pear-shaped.

“We have been raising these issues and we have got no record of it, it’s absolutely shocking.”

Cllr Lees added: “I’ve got nothing to hide, it’s not there.”

The council’s deputy chief executive, Balvinder Heran, told the meeting all emails on the council’s system are automatically archived and it should be possible to retrieve it.

Cllr Judy Foster said: “If that email was sent on behalf of our committee we should have been copied in.

“That is important information, in future when any emails are sent on our behalf we should be copied in with responses.”