MYSTERY still surrounds the future of one of Herefordshire Council’s most senior employees.

Speculation has been rife over the future of Peter Robinson, the council’s director of resources, for several weeks.

The questions over his role with the local authority first appeared after a query was raised at a full council meeting over the accuracy of figures in the medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) which was approved in February 2015.

Mr Robinson, who was appointed to the senior position last summer for a salary worth just over £98,000, sent out a clarification email explaining the figures were incorrect, and added that he had referred the matter to external auditors.

Those auditors were the South West Audit Partnership, of which Mr Robinson is a former director.

The group, which lists Herefordshire Council as a ‘partner’, cleared the authority last week following an independent audit, but the matter is now expected to be examined by the council’s audit and governance committee.

Criticism has since been levelled at the council for using an internal auditor.

However the council said South West Audit Partnership has a professional duty to provide an ‘unbiased and objective view’.

Mr Robinson, who was chief financial officer at Bristol City Council before joining Herefordshire Council, did not attend a meeting of the council’s planning committee which approved the controversial Southern Link Road and was also not present at the council’s most recent cabinet meeting.

But, responding to a Freedom of Information request submitted by this newspaper, Herefordshire Council confirmed this week that Mr Robinson is still an employee.

The Hereford Times asked whether Mr Robinson had left the council temporarily, possibly due to suspension, or permanently, and for the reasons behind these decisions.

However, the council said this information had been withheld because it was considered to constitute the personal data of the member of staff as a third party.

“Release of this information would not be fair and it would contravene the first Data Protection Act principle,” it said.

“There are a number of factors that could indicate whether disclosure would be fair, including whether it is sensitive personal data, the consequences of disclosure, the employees’ reasonable expectations and the balance between their rights and any legitimate public interest in disclosure.”

It continued: “It is reasonable to expect that a public authority would disclose more information relating to senior employees than more junior ones, but it is always necessary to consider the nature of the information and the responsibilities of the employees in question.”