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Wi-fi boss Rikki Hunt may sue Swindon Council over report
BUSINESSMAN Rikki Hunt is considering taking legal action against the council following the publication of a report into Swindon’s wi-fi fiasco.
The report was commissioned by the Scrutiny Committee, which on Wednesday night heard that Mr Hunt used his sales skills to convince the council to take on the scheme to introduce wi-fi across the town.
Digital City UK, of which Mr Hunt used to be the managing director, was set to carry out the programme and borrowed £400,000 from the council, which has yet to be repaid.
However, the former Swindon Town chairman has hit back and said he was not the reason the scheme went wrong.
The committee also heard that the council should be considered the victim in the whole scenario but Mr Hunt, while conceding there were problems, says the council needs to take more responsibilty for the failure.
His solicitor said: “Some of the comments made to committee, if correctly reported, are verging on defamatory.
“Mr Hunt is considering taking action with his solicitors, Francis George Solicitor-Advocate of Old Town, Swindon.
“Mr Hunt accepts that he convinced officers and councillors the project was viable.
“The report focuses more on the lack of internal consultation, which is nothing to do with Mr Hunt.
“He is extremely unhappy at the suggestion of any wrongdoing which has no foundation.
“Generally, Mr Hunts says its time for some within the council to stand up and be counted.”
“There were clearly internal and external difficulties but Mr Hunt has no doubt that had we all worked together then the outcome would have been different.”
The committee has decided that the next course of action is to pass the report on to the Cabinet, who will decide whether to make a complaint to the police.
A serious bone of contention is whether two potential parties were interested in investing in the scheme at the time £250,000 of the loan was released.
The report said this information was key to the money being released but could find no evidence to support the claim by Mr Hunt.
He disputes this, and his solicitor said: “Mr Hunt does not understand this point, given all accounting documentation was provided to the council and many conversations took place about possible partners and the application of funds.
“The suggestion of any wrongdoing is vehemently denied.”
Questions were also raised about the salary of £12,500 which was paid to Mr Hunt which, while not illegal, no one at the council admitted agreeing to.
“The council have the same correspondence and legal documentation Mr Hunt has,” his solicitor said. “They simply need to read it and the council should release the agreements between Avidity & Digital City as well as the aQovia & Digital City agreements.
“Mr Hunt’s remuneration was contractually agreed and not challenged. It accords with his value to the project.
“Mr Hunt should also point out that because the project was struggling, he – at his own suggestion – took nothing from the company for six months.”