Remember the Wirral Council whistleblower, who as a last resort, wrote to his local MP, Frank Field MP ? ( See HERE) Well Frank responded and Wirral Leaks have been given access to his fullsome response. Below are his missives based on forensic research and robust questioning of Wirral Council’s senior officers – plus the Whistleblowers follow up, including their final email which to date they have had no reply to.
REPLY 1 FROM FRANK
Thanks for your email about Wirral Council and your own activities as Whistleblower. I am grateful for you writing to me. I have referred your email to the Chief Executive and asked him to report back to me but might I ask please which Councillors you have contacted in respect of this complaint? It is to them that your email should have been address and I’m anxious to link up with those you are working with.
With best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you.
Dear Mr Field
Thank you for your reply
Unfortunately my trust and confidence in local councillors and Senior Officers at Wirral Council [including Jim Wilkie] is at an all time low[see Anna Klonowski’s Corporate Governance report] which is why I have written to my MP.
However I have been in correspondence with Council Leader Steve Foulkes who promised me a full investigation and that I would be furnished with the legal opinions they apparently requested as per his email below:
“The latest update on your whistle blowing complaint, following my last e-mail, is that the solicitor has now drawn up a formal Opinion on the legal position on the Council practices you complained of. This Opinion is now being referred to an external lawyer for an independent view on whether it is legally correct; to be absolutely sure we are getting an unbiased view. When this has been received, you will receive a full response with both Opinions so you can see for yourself what is being said.
If there are any recommendations in either of the Opinions, we will make sure they are followed. I will personally make sure that my Cabinet member for Adult Social Services gets a copy of the Opinions, reads them carefully, and follows up anything that needs to be done. I realise you have been under considerable stress and I hope the news in this e-mail will start to ease some of that stress.”
Sadly this did not happen and I received a brief letter from Howard Cooper [Interim DASS Director] saying he was fully satisfied that there was no blanket policy of delaying care that requested a waiver, I however have irrefutable evidence that this policy did exist and was standard practice within DASS- this has been corroborated by a second whistleblower. I can only assume Mr Foulkes is not being given the whole story by Senior Officers, who it appears are acting in their own self interest.
I also have a problem with Thomas Ryan being the Investigating Officer, as this seems to be a conflict of interest as he was also dealing with my sickness. Indeed the first time he mentioned disciplinary procedures (Serious Absence Capability) was a week after he had contacted me with regard to my whistle blowing. My solicitor informed me that he would certainly link these actions, although I have now signed a compromise agreement to settle any claims relating to Disability Discrimination by Wirral Borough Council.
I have no evidence of any robust enquiry taking place and I would imagine the legal opinion that WBC have sought is based on what they do now, rather than what they did in the past.
Indeed Community Cares Legal Columnist Ed Mitchell, says “The courts will afford a council a reasonable period of time to put a care service in place as they recognise that services cannot be conjured up out of thin air.. But a policy of not even beginning the process of securing services until a set period of time has elapsed cannot be considered lawful.”
Ultimately this case is not just about policy and procedure its about a mindset that seems to be endemic in Wirral Council that thinks such a policy is morally, legally or ethically acceptable. As the Klonowski report mentioned.
Moreover it is staggering that when exposed they appear to be deploying the exact same tactics faced by Martin Morton and which ultimately led to the Independent Review ……..and even in the light of the initial findings of that Review they carry on covering up – despite irrefutable evidence!. At a time when the integrity and honesty of Officers is still being called into question surely the absence of any robust and wide ranging investigation can only bring the Council into even further disrepute.
It’s exactly the same with Special Charging Policy – to implement such a discriminatory policy was bad enough but then Council compounded the original sin by covering it up to the extent they were prepared to bully Mr Morton out of a job. Nothing has changed
It is very hard to reconcile my experience working for DASS with the response I have received from the Interim Director and I am therefore seeking your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.
I thank you for your support and assistance.
REPLY 2 FROM FRANK
Thanks for copying me what Steve Foulkes had already written to you. I can’t see how Steve could’ve been more open or helpful to you. There’s clearly been a problem in the past (which I had exposed by bringing in the serious fraud office) but I do think the council is trying to get its policy on whistle blowing to be one of the best in the country.
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WHISTLEBLOWERS RESPONSE 2.
Dear Mr Field
Thank you for your response to my recent email raising concerns over the way Wirral Borough Councils Social Services operates.
If I can make a few points with regard to your reply.
I would like to point out that I have contacted you as a last resort due to Wirral Borough Councils inability to investigate my concerns properly and feel very let down by your response.
With regard to the specifics of your reply, you state Councillor Foulkes couldn’t have been any more open and honest with me . I would disagree, the legal opinion he promised me has never transpired and as mentioned I received a woefully inadequate letter from Howard Cooper which did not demonstrate that any meaningful investigation took place. For clarity let me suggest how Councillor Foulkes COULD have been more helpful
· The Legal opinions he claims were sought by the Council were, as promised, sent to me.
· Informing me exactly how the investigation was to progress , what where its trems of reference and who would be spoken/interviewed.
· Mr Foulkes then ensured Senior officers carried out a wide ranging, transparent enquiry into my concerns and that all documentation with regard to their findings was sent to me.
Among the other issues I have touched upon , in particular using poorly trained unqualified ASO’s , to replace social workers and the complexity of work they are undertaking, Iam delighted to see this has now made national news as this is an issue of huge concern.
In the past you have intervened, most memorably when you publically called for resignations over the “shameful” management of the town’s schools.” You also stated “Wirral’s senior officers have abjectly failed to act in the best interests of my young constituents. “ I would submit that Wirral’s senior officers have and continue to act in their own self interest, and are failing your most vulnerable constituents. Let us not forget this is local authority whose Social Services Department is regularly mentioned as one of the worst in the country and the Klonowski report merely confirms this view with much of it mirroring my own experience and about the bizarre mindset that is prevalent amongst many senior managers in DASS.
Your assertion that you believe Wirral Council wishes to have the best whistle blowing policy in the country is indeed an admirable ambition, however it is patently obvious from my Whistle blowing experience that nothing has changed in the aftermath of Martin Morton’s appalling treatment . Actions speak louder than spin.
However Iam glad that you have contacted the serious fraud squad in this case because I have no doubt that this is a local authority in complete meltdown. And so I would ask again for your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.
FRANKS REPLY NO.3
Erm, thus far we are informed it, resembles a chrurch bell clanging faintly in the distance, tumbleweed being tossed by the pararie wind etc etc . You get the picture.