CHESHIRE West and Chester Council is investigating the leak of commercially sensitive information to the media.
What upset council bosses was when The Chester Chronicle revealed the authority had agreed to sell land for a supermarket next to Chester’s Cineworld for £5.77m subject to planning permission.
But the enquiry upset Labour Cllr Ben Powell, who was interviewed by a fraud investigator as part of the enquiry, after discovering his email inbox had been viewed by officers.
Council spokesman Ian Callister said: “The council’s internal audit service is currently undertaking an investigation into the disclosure of commercially sensitive financial information to the media.
“That exempt information was shared by email on a strictly confidential basis with some councillors but subsequently published in the Chronicle.
“Disclosure by any member is a contravention of the members’ code of conduct and questions the integrity of the council’s business practice on a matter which involved substantial funds being returned to the public purse.
“Internal audit has the authority to access all records, documents, information and correspondence relating to any financial and other transactions, as considered necessary.”
He said ‘at no time’ was the content of any emails reviewed or identified as a basis for further action.
And outraged Cllr Powell told the Tory executive he had ‘nothing to hide’ but could no longer assure constituents their correspondence would be treated in confidence.
The member for the St Paul’s ward in Ellesmere Port will be raising his concerns with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
He said: “I find myself in a very difficult position as I do not feel able to assure my residents currently that their emails, or the fact they have contacted me, has been kept confidential.”