A council has confirmed it has reported the 'possible theft' of a leaked audit report to police.

Hertsmere Borough Council said it has passed a report onto Hertfordshire Constabulary and launched its own internal investigation after a confidential report relating to the governance of its council-owned companies was published on Facebook.

The audit report was also sent to this newspaper, which took steps to verify its accuracy, before publishing some of the findings.

The audit report referred to the leader of Hertsmere Borough Council Cllr Morris Bright and the running of Elstree Studios.

An FoI released back in April revealed that Cllr Bright and his Tory party had to repay the studios thousands of pounds due to wrongly claimed expenses and use of council-owned property for party political purposes.

The leaked audit report identified “weaknesses” in controls at the studios.

Read more: Leaked audit report reveals 'weaknesses' in controls at studios

The report will be officially published on or around July 22 in an agenda for an audit committee meeting which takes place on July 30.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, the audit report was referred to a number of times by both Cllr Bright and the leader of the Labour group Cllr Jeremy Newmark - despite councillors being advised not to comment on the audit report until it is officially published.

Borehamwood Times:

Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council Cllr Morris Bright

But after the matter was raised during the meeting, Cllr Bright said: "An IT forensic company has been brought in to seek to ascertain where the leak emanated from. Officers tell us the report was only on the computers of four senior officers here at Hertsmere, no councillors, along with the auditors themselves.

"It's imperative residents and members have faith in our systems so that we can conduct our business in a proper and legal way. The corporate director Sajida Bilje, who is also the acting chief executive, is leading the investigation with the external forensic team on the matter along with the head of legal Harvey Patterson."

In the meeting, Cllr Newmark responded by saying his group "will not support a witch-hunt" against council staff adding he wanted the leader's "reassurance" that "no witch-hunt would take place" and that the investigation will not be used as a "smokescreen to dealing with the issues raised in the report".

Borehamwood Times:

Leader of the Hertsmere Labour group Cllr Jeremy Newmark

But Cllr Bright reiterated the point that it was about ensuring any confidential reports remain confidential until publication and that people have faith in the council.

He added: "As for witch-hunts, we don't play those games here."

A council spokesperson said: "We have referred the possible theft of the audit report to the police and we are also conducting our own internal investigation."