Last week, on inspecting Pembrokeshire County Council's statutory register of members' interests, I discovered that Cllr Brian Hall is a director of a company called Euro-Ryall Ltd
This company was incorporated on 29 December 2000, though his entry in the register of interests is dated 12 March 2002, well outside the "one-month" time limit for registration set by the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Regulations 1992.
Enquiries at Companies House website reveal that Cllr Hall's fellow director in Euro-Ryall is a Dr Michael Patrick Ryan.
The name Dr Ryan rang a bell and sure enough when I checked Hall's expense claims I find that he, Dr Ryan, and Mr Pat O'Sullivan spent the four days 16-20 November 2000 touring Pembroke Dock
According to a note at the bottom of the claim form, the council's Head of Marketing, Mr David Thomas, was also present on one of these days.
In respect of these activities, Cllr Hall submitted a claim for £20 for lunches for the four of them despite the fact that members are only allowed to claim reimbursement for their personal subsistence costs.
Messrs Hall and Ryan must have taken a shine to each other because, less than six weeks later, on 29 December 2000, Euro-Ryall Ltd was incorporated, leaving me to wonder if the meetings with Dr Ryan and Mr O'Sullivan, for which Cllr Hall also claimed 30 miles travelling allowance, were entirely devoted to council business.
Further investigations revealed that on 23 and 24 January 2001, Cllr Hall entertained Dr Ryan to lunch, at taxpayers' expense, in Morrillo's café in Haverfordwest, though the council's attendance records show that on the 23 January he wasn't entitled to claim lunch for himself never mind for his business partner.
Of course, the amount of money involved is trivial in the great scheme of things - though I do recall reading in the Western Telegraph, not so long ago, of someone who was prosecuted for stealing £3 worth of lager from a supermarket - but it is surely not too much to ask, in a democracy, that those in power should obey the law.