Belfast Telegraph

NI water chief MacKenzie offered to resign

Northern Ireland's water company has been hit by turbulence at the top as well as a major investigation into contract awards, it has been learned.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that the chief executive of Northern Ireland Water (NIW) recently offered his resignation.

This same senior figure helped trigger a probe into contractual practices at the Government-owned company.

As this newspaper revealed earlier this month, the ongoing independent investigation is covering the issuing of contracts without competitive tendering processes.

The probe stems from an internal review put in place by new chief executive Laurence MacKenzie and involves practices predating his arrival at NIW last summer. It is believed Mr MacKenzie also recently offered his resignation from his top post. It has not been implemented and he remains at the helm.

No reason has been made public for his departure offer, but its disclosure will add to a picture of uncertainty and controversy for the company.

The Department for Regional Development, which owns NIW, would not be drawn on the resignation issue.

A spokeswoman said: “An independent review commissioned by the Department and Northern Ireland Water is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”

A source at NIW said everyone there was waiting for the outcome of the contracts review. The review is expected to be finalised within a matter of days.

In a statement to this newspaper earlier this month, the chief executive welcomed the investigation and said it was a “timely opportunity” to “ensure the highest standards of probity in our procurement processes”.

Explaining the background to the contracts investigation, Mr MacKenzie said he had firstly initiated a review by NIW's internal auditors of “procedures in the area of procurement governance”.

Belfast Telegraph