Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog boss sorry for salary blunders

By Connla Young

The head of a consumer watchdog caught up in a cash controversy has said she will “work hard” to restore public confidence in the organisation.

Chief executive of the Consumer Council Antoinette McKeown admitted that consumers have been let down after it emerged that 29 workers were overpaid £230,000 in the six years up to 2010.

The watchdog was set up in 1985 to help the public with complaints and offer advice about consumer rights.

The organisation is funded out of the public purse through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Chiefs at the Consumer Council ordered an audit in 2010 which revealed that “irregular salary payments” had been paid to dozens of staff members.

It is understood only staff members in post in March 2010 were included in the audit.

It is not known how many former employees may be affected by the mistake.

Ms McKeown apologised for the payment blunder and the watchdog boss admitted the public had been let down.

Ms McKeown said: “This should not have happened and we will have to work hard to rebuild confidence with the public.”

A spokesman for Deti confirmed there are no plans to audit former employees. It was also undecided if affected Consumer Council staff will be forced to return the extra cash.

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