The full costs of former chief executive Ian Thomas’ abrupt departure from Lewisham Council could be as high as £100,000, figures suggest.

Figures obtained by the Lewisham Lib Dems via a freedom of information request show the council spent £32,954 recruiting Mr Thomas.

Presuming recruitment costs for the next chief executive are also around £30,000, combined with pay over his three-month notice period, this comes to over £100,000.

Lewisham Council announced Mr Thomas was leaving the role last October, with his last day on December 31.

Mr Thomas began as the council’s chief executive in March 2018, after being appointed by a panel which included Mayor Damien Egan and members of his cabinet.

It is understood mayor Damien Egan, who was elected last May, found it difficult to work with Mr Thomas.

But Mr Thomas’ departure caused outrage in the community, with a petition calling for more information as to why he left gathering 2,000 signatures. He is now the chief executive of Kingston Council.

Lewisham Lib Dems spokesperson Chris Maines said: “The Ian Thomas saga matters beyond the facts of the individual case. We still don’t have a chief executive at Lewisham almost two years after Barry Quirk left his full-time Lewisham chief exec role.

“Ian Thomas briefly offered some vision and hope that there would be leadership at the top but the council is back to drifting along with no vision for delivering for the people of Lewisham. 

“The costs of the failure to appoint a permanent chief executive are staggering.

“People in Lewisham deserve better from their council.” 

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on individuals, however it is important to clarify that the costs associated with recruiting a chief executive officer are significantly lower than the figure quoted.”

However she did not clarify whether this meant the estimated figure of over £100,000 of the full costs of Mr Thomas’ departure, or the £32,954 figure obtained via a freedom of information request.

Mr Thomas' salary was £185,000.

He followed Barry Quirk, who stood down as the council’s chief executive in September 2017 and is now the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea where he was seconded after the Grenfell fire.