FORMER town planning councillor at Palma's City Hall, Javier Rodrigo de Santos gave a personal apology to the people of the city yesterday for having wrongfully used 50'000 euros of public funds in gay bars and clubs during the term of office of the previous Partido Popular mayoress of Palma, Catalina Cirer.

Rodrigo de Santos was speaking yesterday from Madrid where he had arrived from Majorca to seek specialist treatment for his cocaine addiction after having returned to the City Council the sum of money he had run up using a local authority credit card.

Yesterday the Economy and Tax department at City Hall officially took Rodrigo de Santos out of the position he had most recently been holding with them and passed it over to his replacement Rosa Barber. In a staff reshuffle, he will be relegated to a minor post with minimal responsibility, at least until the legal proceedings against him by the Balearic High Court have been completed.

Suspicions had first been aroused about possible misappropriation of funds when auditors were unable to reconcile credit card receipts - which were registered at odd hours of day and night - with the services that supplier companies claimed to provide.

The scandal has come as a major embarrassment to ex-mayor Catalina Cirer who two days ago took public steps to disassociate herself and the rest of her political team from the actions of her once-trusted deputy. She claimed that the financial controls in place at City Hall had “clearly failed” and expressed her concern that all loopholes be closed so that such a fiasco “could never be repeated.”