An inquiry is to take place into how former Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher was able to secretly award himself an £11,000 pay increase while in charge of the town hall.

The revelations came to light when the list of councillor annual allowances 2013/14 were published late last week and it was revealed Coun Fisher’s allowance was £62,352, an 18 per cent increase on the £53,000 he was thought to be earning.

During the financial year, when council staff received a one per cent pay rise, Coun Fisher privately told council officers he wanted the full allowance he could claim.

And it has now emerged he took a further £1,000 increase in May.

The news has been met with disgust and anger, and on Friday evening Coun Fisher, representative for Shirley, resigned as leader of Croydon Conservatives.

He remains a councillor.

An inquiry, headed by former John Ruskin College principal Anne Smith, will be launched into how he was able to get the increase.

It is expected to present its recommendations to the council by November.

Conservative MP for Croydon Central, and personal friend Gavin Barwell said what he had done was ‘doubly wrong’.

In a statement released on Saturday, Coun Fisher said: "Over the seven years from 2006 to 2013, the allowance that I claimed as leader fell significantly in real terms. "That was the right thing to do at a time when we were taking tough decisions on pay increases for council staff.

"Last year, after several years of a reduction in real terms year on year in my allowances, I took the decision to claim some of the increase recommended by an independent body and agreed by the council, in the interests of my family.

"Although this information was always going to come into the public domain, I did not issue a statement publicly making people aware of this and I deeply regret that error and apologise for it.

"I do not want this mistake to damage my reputation and the reputation of the Conservative Party, which I have been proud to represent for over 20 years. "I will continue to serve my constituents in Shirley and hope that people will forgive me for my lapse in judgement."

The Croydon Guardian has made frequent attempts to contact Coun Fisher to ask when and how he made the request to receive the additional £10,000, but he has stated he will provide nothing more than his statement.

New council leader Councillor Tony Newman said the Labour administration will ensure this cannot happen again.

Coun Newman said: "I was as shocked as anyone that he wasn’t at the level people thought he was.

"At the first full meeting of the council we changed the allowance scheme so any change would have to be brought back to the full council and voted on.

"This inquiry is not about members’ allowances per se. It is about asking the fundamental question ‘how was the former Leader of the Council able to take £11,000 of public money without informing the public?"

"The other change is that are we being quite clear that at the earliest opportunity we will be publishing councillor allowances on a monthly basis online so that it is crystal clear what people are being paid.”

Did anyone else claim the extra money?

Four other Conservatives - Steve O’Connell, Vidhi Mohan, Steve Hollands and former councillor Simon Hoar - enquired about retrospectively claiming allowances they were eligible for from when they were cabinet members. But after talking to council officers they decided this would be completely inappropriate.

Why was Mike Fisher able to claim the money?

An independent panel established by London Councils in 2010-2011 recommended pay rises for councillors who spend much of their time on council business, including the cabinet and the mayor.

At this time councillors said they were minded not to take the increase because it would be wrong to take a pay rise when the council’s staff were seeing their pay frozen.

The option remained open for them to claim the extra money at a later date.