Cornwall Council has been criticised for a lack of transparency over the appointment of a new finance boss who had previously been censured for professional misconduct.

Tracie Langley was appointed as interim chief operating officer (COO) and Section 151 officer last year after the sudden departure of Andy Brown from the post.

But it has been revealed that Ms Langley, under her former name Tracie Evans, had been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in 2014.

She had admitted to CIPFA that she had signed off accounts for a company she was a director of using the name and signature of a co-director without their knowledge.

CIPFA gave her a “severe reprimand” for the incident and the committee which oversaw the hearing said that while it accepted her remorse it “was surprised that someone of her calibre and experience should not have thought that what she did was significant and carried consequences”.

Cornwall Council has said that it was “fully aware” of her history before she was appointed.

However a senior councillor has said that while some at County Hall were aware not everyone had been informed about what had happened.

David Harris, deputy leader of the Conservative group at Cornwall Council, said that having met Ms Langley and “seen the results of her work” he had “no issue with her ability to do the job”.

But he said he was concerned about how the appointment was made and who had been told about her previous misdemeanour, saying there was a “lack of transparency”.

He said: “Her appointment as an interim was made by the chief executive in line with standard practice.

“The chief executive, in making this appointment, is clearly aware of this issue. The statement that has been issued by the council says the council was ‘fully aware’ of her history. Rubbish.

“My belief was that the leader and deputy leader were consulted but nobody else was consulted about this.

“The chief officers’ appointment committee, which would deal with permanent appointments at this level, were not consulted.

“Some might think that the audit committee, or the chair of the audit committee, should have been consulted or made aware of it. They weren’t.

“It is an important issue. There was no consultation with the group leaders, Linda Taylor, as group leader of the Conservatives, and myself, as deputy leader, we were not told about it.

“This would never have come out if someone hadn’t picked up on it and made it public – that is unacceptable.

“There is also the potential embarrassment for the council when it does come out.

“For the council to say that it was fully aware of the history – that’s a pretty broad statement when you consider how many people at the council had been told.”

In a statement Cornwall Council said: “Cornwall Council carried out all relevant background checks before appointing Tracie Langley to the role of chief operating officer.

“The council is fully aware of her history – including her self-referral to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting in 2014 – and all references we received from former employers were exemplary.

“Tracie is an experienced local government finance director, having been section 151 officer for three London boroughs, and executive director for resources at Homes England.

“Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, provided the following reference for her – ‘Tracie is a highly experienced chief operating officer and Section 151 officer and I have personal experience of her work in similar roles.  In terms of her suitability to this role in Cornwall, Tracie is a very effective COO/director of resources. She is very experienced, is bright, tough, she works well with elected members who, in my experience, think very highly of her. She is at the top of the range of the people available on the market for this type of post’.”