QUESTIONS are being asked over rumours that a substantial compensation payment has been made to a unnamed Wirral Council officer.

A "veil of secrecy" surrounding the issue has been criticised by the leader of Tory group, Cllr Jeff Green.

Questions were raised at a meeting of the full council on Monday night, when Cllr Green quizzed the Labour leadership about the issue.

The Tory chief asked: “Given the council’s budget position, is the leader aware of the rumours circulating of payment of £48,000 to a serving council officer?

“Does he know what it’s for?”

Leader of the council, Cllr Phil Davies, replied: “Councillor Green has asked me about rumours.

"I’ve got nothing to add to the email sent by the chief executive to councillors on October 7.”

Chief executive Graham Burgess took the unusual step of sending an email to all 66 members of the council last week.

In it, he said he had become aware of “rumour and speculation regarding compromise agreements that it was suggested may have been entered into by the council.”

His email states: "I would like to confirm that it has never been the practice of this council under any leadership, or other councils for that matter, to enter into discussion about individual compromise agreements.

"This position is taken for both strong moral and legal reasons.

"It is therefore not appropriate to comment on any of the recent speculation that has taken place.

"I will, however, say that since I have been chief executive at Wirral Council there have been no compromise agreements entered into which are based upon member behaviour.

"In addition, at no time would I as chief executive ever enter into a compromise agreement without appropriate legal advice.”

But councillor Green said the note raised more questions than it answered.

He said: “The key issue about this is the way it is being dealt with. It is not in the least bit helpful.

“This veil of secrecy can only lead to many more questions being asked by us.

“The council budget is already under severe pressure and can ill-afford to be exposed to the sort of loss that has been suggested."