Better to reign in Hell,than to serve in Heaven ……

better-to-reign-in-hell

We are proud to publish the latest instalment of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods saga written by Nigel ” Highbrow” Hobro  which may answer a few questions raised by our readers and explain why we continue to follow this story.

We follow it because it’s everything that’s wrong. The incompetence, the ineptitude, the total disregard of what’s right and wrong.

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven:

“So spake th’apostate Angel, vaunting aloud

But inward rack’d with pain”

Satan is the Father of Lies whose feeble imitation of God is Gehenna, or Hell. Rather than serve Truth he will concoct a monstrous imitation, rather like Macbeth who preferred to be a false King than a faithful Thane.

We read much vaunting from Councillor P Davies and from his faithless band, that Wirral Borough Council is ever “open and transparent”. We read glossy brochures from Merseyside Special Investment Fund about its manifold successes and yet all are silent on their failures?

My Lord Leaky in the preface to “The Big Lie” https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/ worried about the muteness of regulatory authorities. He did not elaborate but they are worth reciting here. A forensic investigator given access to the Beverley Edwards report signally fails to report of the warnings from that lady about the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering Ltd’s assets into Harbac UK ltd. Remarkable it is, considering the discussions held with Andrew Walker, the Government Internal Audit Agent, that Grant Thornton can report of no wrong-doing by Council officers. Long before I and James (Griffiths) made our complaints GIAA was investigating the perversion of the tender process for the £3m Business Start up 2 (ISUS) project, and the intimidation by council officers of the most qualified candidate to run it who had an assessment of 88% compared to wirralbiz’s 36%! Yet still the 88% candidate did not secure the contract. Turning to the liquidators of Lockwood Engineering Ltd they found nothing unusual in an engineering company stating on oath that the engineering firm had no machinery whatsoever. When confronted with this anomaly and the starkly clear evidence of the BIG file their response was the liquidation was over. The liquidators of Harbac UK Ltd when presented with same evidence by devilish equivocation asked by what right did I question them, was I a creditor of Harbac UK Ltd? Finally they finished with a “well we have lost a lot of money!” (some £10k on their £395 per hour fees). At this time after a prolonged liquidation, due to there being no accounting records given to them, they propose to close the company in January 2017,without reporting any need for detailed investigation despite having had copious correspondence between myself and themselves (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07396044).

I have only started emptying the bucket but the above should be enough to persuade the reader that we should all share Lord Leaky’s concerns.

The Devil rules the world and he does so with coin!

What of Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) and connexions with the Big Lie article?
I don’t intend to befuddle the Reader but these matters are not a clear as the springs in Paradise. Pandemonium is a phrase well coined.

Unlike Councillor Davies in the press release referred to in the Ministry of Truth article

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/ministry-of-truth/

I will warn the Reader that there is some speculation in what I am going to write. I feel entitled to speculate when my adversaries plainly lie. Councillor P Davies undoubtedly is a clever man ( really? – Wirral Leaks) and with fingers in many pies as can be seen from his personal website :

I represent the Learning Partnership on the Wirral Local Strategic Partnership and the Wirral Waterfront Board. 
I am a non-executive director of the following organisations: The Mersey Partnership; Greater Merseyside Enterprise; the PSL Group (Pentra); The Lauries; Wirral Multi-cultural Organisation; and the Laird Foundation.
I also represent Wirral Borough Council on the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group as well as the Wirral Pathways (Priority 4) Board .

The key words are THE Mersey Partnership, Wirral Waterfront Board and Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group. I believe these posts extend in substance back to the beginnings of wirralbiz and of the strange case of New Concept Gaming Limited. Speculation coming…Councillor Davies would associate closely with Mark Basnett, Director of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership, for, after all he had also been a member of the LEP and has many photo opportunities with Mrs Paula Basnett, ex Head of Invest Wirral , and now Head of Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Invest Wirral was in charge of the BIG fund and Mrs Basnett was charged from early 2011 with supervision of the renegade Directors of wirralbiz. If myself, Lord Leaky or Paul Cardin were the three witches on the blasted heath cackling before Macbeth, a picture can be conjured up. These people were and are an elite, an Eurocracy, who run Roman triumphs through the media hailing their achievements with our money, European money, and who would recoil at having their failures equally trumpeted.

New Gaming Concept Ltd

The following is neither lie, nor speculation.

In October 2009 Councillor Jean Stapleton signed off a BIG grant to the company who had already received public funding of £845,000 via Subsidiaries of MSIF and via the NWDA.

In March 2010 the same company filed for Liquidation with an accumulated net loss of £905K. All the European, BIG money and NWDA money was declared lost at the final Liquidators report in (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05427776) except for £5,000!

No accounts submitted to Companies House in the lead up to the investment of £845,000 of public money on 30th January 2008 were endorsed by professional accountants. Indeed the 30th April 2008 accounts did not even allude to the floating charge nor the debenture created on 30th January 2008.

Speculation follows:

Shoddy indeed was this for a recipient of £845,000 of public money, even dishonest. I wonder whether the accounts filed for 30th April 2009 on 8th December 2009 were truthful in outlining £461,494 of debtors when three months later the Statement of Assets

At liquidation the Debtors are described as £90,000 of which the liquidator by June 2011 has collected just and precisely £NIL. With Invest Wirral running the show given the revelations in the Grant Thornton BIG investigation one can imagine the BIG panel being duped.

This case has not been followed by any detailed investigation for like wirralbiz it does not suit the Eurocracy, among whom I count Cllr P Davies, to rake over the ashes. Certainly I doubt if Joe Public would ever have heard of this monumental waste if it had not been for the determination of the whistle-blowers to nail the LIE.

I have asked MSIF under FOI for their file on New Concept Gaming Ltd and received the fastest ever response to any FOI, that they were not subject to FOI. I have asked NWDA and its successor, DCLG, and WBC, for their files who of course are subject to FOI.

I conclude that Readers should be aware of just how little protection we are afforded from deception by Councillors or downright robbery by some private companies, by any organ of the state or duly appointed agent of the same. CAVEAT EMPTOR and respect to WIRRAL IN IT TOGETHER and WIRRALLEAKS who do the next best thing which is to put travesties on RECORD.

Ministry of Truth

 

ministry-of-truth-official

Another of our valued contributors Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro provides us with the latest update on the long running saga that is the BIG cover up (both in name and by nature).

After being given the usual run around by Wirral Council a Freedom of Information request eventually provided the evidence that Hobro and co had needed to support their long held claims of malpractice.

Once again we seem to witness the closed ranks and the triumph of dishonesty over truth. Whilst Hobro rightly highlights the questionable actions of Wirral Council management in this sorry saga we would like to raise a particular concern about so called independent agencies who collude with such behaviour. In all of these Wirral Council whistleblowing cases a common denominator has been how external auditors have consistently failed to act in the public interest.

No wonder that ex – Cllr Jim Crabtree , the former Chair of the council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee , asked for a round of applause for Mike Thomas (Audit Commission/ Grant Thornton)  when he made his last appearance at an ARMC meeting. Mr Thomas appeared shocked at the tribute – we were appalled………

Wirral Borough Council management is now revealed to be a sordid manipulator of the truth. I write that buttressed by hard-won evidence. Evidence forced out of WBC by threat of contempt of court after a campaign of obfuscation lasting all the way back to 2011. In addition to the management being exposed, a reasonable man might well have grounds to write that the Leader of the Council either was fed lies, and turned a blind eye, or told them in full knowledge. As regards (former WBC CEO) Graham Burgess and his Regeneration team, Kevin Adderley, and the ever-present David Ball, the taped proceedings of the Special Audit and Risk Committee meeting of 8th October tars them with lying, or complicity with lies, and that extending to the Legal Officer, Surjit Tour, who in despite of his accustomed “legal” interventions, kept silence as untruths were reeled out.

Language is never exact and can be readily misused – “the devil wins us with honest trifles to betray us i’the deepest consequence” and such abuse of language, “tis the equivocation of the fiend”, has been practised by many. Bill Clinton “I did not have sex in the Whitehouse” or his “I smoked but did not inhale” are famous examples. The tone of delivery may help. After a night of the Long Knives in June 1934 where a former German Chancellor was murdered with his wife, and hundreds of others, Hermann Goering cheerily met Anglo-American Reporters with the quip “Boy, have I got news for you!” Naturally he personally had organised many of the assassinations himself and put a jovial face upon it. “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”!

Why am I quoting Macbeth? Why because the play shows how small untruths may lead to monstrous acts somewhere late in the “seeds of time”. Particularly I quote Macbeth because a line spoken by the tragic hero fits this situation neatly. Macbeth says

“I am in blood steep’d in so far

That going back were as tedious as go o’er”

Surely malevolence grows steadily like a worm fed on rubbish. Let me rehearse how an Original Lie grew and grew.

14 March 2011   Minutes given to Regeneration committee of councillors include tabulation of false figures from Wirralbiz Working Wirral figures, in order to give impression that all is well

July 2011        Kevin Adderley outfaces James Griffiths, whistle-blower, by untruthfully blurting out that no BIG recipient has gone bust

January 2012     Chief Anti-Fraud officer, Beverley Edwards files a 370 page report with the Director of Law showing the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering ltd assets into Harbac (UK) ltd, and multiple flaws in the BIG process, together with flaws and fraud in wirralbiz’s ISUS program

March 2012       

Press release by WBC as follows 23 March 2012

Re: Allegations relating to Business Grants

Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive, Ian Coleman said:

“The allegations raised are being investigated by the Council’s Audit Officers. Their preliminary view, having interviewed the complainants and others, and considered all relevant documentation, is that there is no evidence that substantiates the allegations made against Council officers – at that time there was only the suggestion that (the now CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce) Paula Basnett was a friend of the wife of the director of Cass Coaches; this among a myriad of other allegations against claimants and advisors of wirralbiz).

“The investigation has not yet concluded however it is anticipated that the report will be finalised in the next few weeks.

“The Council’s Economic Development unit has an excellent track record for the work it does to encourage investment into Wirral, support local businesses and help people into jobs. This was recognised most recently when the team won the national LGC Award for Economic Development, which praised the innovation shown by the Council.”

BY March 2012  the decision has been taken to hide Beverley Edwards’ report and substitute it with a Dave Garry report, and stretch that report out as long as possible

July 2012      the council pays £33,000 to wirralbiz regardless of allegations as the lie must be fed

September 2012   “the report will be finalised in the next few weeks” transmutes by witchcraft “ into no report will be published as it is unfit for purpose and Mr D. Garry regardless of his failure ,will leave the authority with £46,000. But what of the 370 pages of Beverley Edwards’ report?

The LIE is swelling with falsehoods and the toll and bill is mounting both for the public and for the two whistleblowers. For the public a further £50,000 will be paid to Grant Thornton. One wonders is this simply to buy time?

October 2012     to feed the lie the Council pays a further £66,000 to wirralbiz

Early December 2012    The Grant Thornton team report both that they have completed the BIG investigation within just over a month, and that WBC is putting no pressure on them to render a report till the ISUS investigation is complete.-to buy more time?

March 2013   Grant Thornton delivers its report which is hidden from view for 16 weeks

March 2013     Press release by Cllr P Davies and again the red herring is thrown into the ocean incarnadine with a “I am pleased that I am now in a position to state clearly that the ISUS report which has now been concluded does not criticise Wirral Council or its officers” WHEREAS from the off the investigation was never directed against council officers!!

July 2013        Under pressure from a question at a full council meeting Cllr Davies agrees to release just the Executive Summary of the BIG investigation. In it are new obfuscations. Grant Thornton though investigating Lockwood Engineering ltd in its sample of six files contrives not to notice or record the phoenixing issue of BIG-funded assets moved into Harbac UK Ltd without any liquidator knowing-a very strange omission indeed. Likewise the BIG LIE battens on the equivocation that a gap of 26 months passed between the August 2010 award of BIG and the dissolution of Lockwood in September 2012. Disingenuous indeed since entry into Liquidation effectively ends the company’s trading and this was only 8 months later!

July 2013     Cllr Davies in a press release, “filled top to toe with direst cruelty” wrote

“I am also pleased to note that with the exception of one, all companies that received BIG funding are still trading – creating jobs and contributing to the local economy”

THE BIG LIE and his soul is not to fly to Heaven. Here is the list of companies that were no longer trading at 1st July 2013

New Gaming Concept ltd   into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Lockwood engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

July 2014 A special audit and risk committee was abandoned in uproar as the Chairman Cllr Crabtree (displaced now and up before criminal court in January coming on an unrelated matter) attempted to close down the issues by a majority vote of Labour Councillors.) Cllr Davies approached me at the end threatening to sue me for linking him with the advisor preparing the defective BIG fund projections. Had I known of the connexions between Brendon Kenny (Corrin Kenny Ltd above) and the Adderley-P Davies coterie, or of the £810,000 deficit in New Gaming Concept Ltd , he would have been even more anxious.

8th October 2014 The reconvened special audit and risk committee is held and despite with-holding what the Chief Executive would submit, the WBC management pestered me many times for the content of my speech. Since the delivery of my speech to them in July 2014 meeting was a contributory cause of that meeting being aborted , I did not supply my notes to them on this ocassion. Graham  Burgess and Kevin Adderley, “twere as tedious to go o’er as go back” repeated the same untruth that now only Lockwood , Harbac and Atlantic Engineering were liquidated or in Liquidation. BIG LIE for by then the list had grown to

 New Gaming Concept ltd   into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Lockwood Engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

With additions  

TTH Laundry Services Ltd                                  21/08/2014

Halliwell Industrial & Marine Silencers                07/03/2014       

Harbac (UK) ltd 14/08/2013

Combined Harvesters ltd 12/12/2013

Atlantic Engineering ltd 11/03/2014

Brocks Mechanical services ltd 04/02/2014

Imaginations Air travel ltd 01/09/2014

I make that ten cessations of trading as both the Chief Executive and the Super Director spake and as, the two representatives from Grant Thornton , the auditors, sat silent, and as David Ball , Manager of Regeneration was equally mute, and lastly the Monitoring Officer, Surjit Tour never corrected them.

A FARCE and a waste of all the salaries and overtime paid to the notables who were present. A personal insult to myself, to James Griffiths and to the public whose money had so flippantly been  thrown away. Throughout the Monitoring Officer refused access to the list of BIG recipients even though a cursory examination of his legal database would show him that liquidated companies have absolutely no rights to confidentiality, period. Wilfully he maintained the BIG LIE and you have only to read the directions from the Information Commissioner to understand how,  improperly, Monitoring Officer offered up a series of ridiculous objections with the purpose of concealing the BIG LIE.

There will be other commentators here and on Wirral in it together. Let me record how angry I am with these pious and aloof civil servants who in reality were hiding their own incompetence and sordid lie-telling. The reader will discover the motivators to tell such lies.

Think on the triumph of Donald Trump in the USA. So many lies were told by the Clintons that he decided to campaign with half truths and once won, row back on his campaign slogans. That is the terminus to arrive at when “ first you practice to deceive”.

The Lowdown From Highbrow

Face it 1

Now we’ve never professed to fully understand the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblowing case.

However knowing what whistleblowers Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro and James Griffiths  were up against when dealing with Wirral Council we felt our role was not to understand the finer points of forensic accounting but to provide the whistleblowers with an outlet for their justifiable frustration and a platform to make their case.

We firmly believe that the public interest demands that dissenting voices should be heard and not crushed beneath the “bureaucratic machinations” in which Wirral Council still seem to excel.

We make no apologies if those dissenting voices are sometimes too coarse and discordant for the delicate sensibilities of those safely cosseted by huge salaries and positions of power.

Therefore we’d like to thank Nigel Hobro for acting in the public interest and sending us his considered response to the forced release this week of a long withheld report which we’ve printed below. It appears that , as ever with these kind of cases , the devil is in the appendices.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/ghost-story/

For those who struggle with the technicalities we’d just ask that you consider the human interest stories that lie behind the cold hard facts – the careers destroyed,the businesses ruined and the appalling waste of public money.It still seems there are still a few people left who want things done PROPERLY but who are thwarted by those whose face fits but who won’t face the truth and DO THE RIGHT THING.

Dear Lord Leaky,

With great reluctance,- I have work to do, tennis to play in this fine weather and a superb Joseph Conrad short story to read- I have taken up my pen again to write of matters BIG and ISUS. Fear not I will try not to wear out the patience of your readers who look for amusement and biting satire within your blog.

I will not re-run all the arguments about what was criminal and what was not but look at it “holistically” to borrow a phrase from the Principal Auditor’s report of January 2012.

Wirral Council’s Surjit Tour and successive CEO’s have gone to an awful amount of trouble firstly to conceal the existence of the above report, and finally not to release its contents. The papers for the July 2014 meeting had redacted an entire paragraph j from the “Timmins” report into the inadequacy-“not fit for purpose”- Garry audit report which raised eyebrows and comments even at that ill-fated and broken up meeting. In the three month interim I appealed to the Information Commissioner who obliged the council to remove most of the redactions in the paper bundle for the October reconvened meeting. Paragraph j read

“There is on file a previous, and much more detailed, draft report REDACTED  which includes numerous evidential appendices……However ,for the avoidance of doubt, I would not consider that this report could be released into the public domain and has, in any case, been superseded”

Logic would demand to know how it can have been superseded by a 33 page Garry report “not fit for purpose” what with it containing the very things Mr Garry has not got i.e. “numerous evidential appendices”!. The January 2012 report was very detailed and it was a little more than a DRAFT for it was deemed fit to send to the Head of Law. It had been prepared by the person who had been, before departing the Authority in January 2012, the direct superior to Mr Garry! Indeed that report indicates that it was passed over to Mr Garry to complete only insofar as to receive the M L Engineering and Installation Ltd from Mr Hobro, which in fact was passed over days before.

A reasonable reader would wonder what would induce WBC to spend a further £50,000 on (auditors) Grant Thornton where half the fee would be to re-work the near complete BIG report of January 2012. Perhaps to find a good time, and much delayed, to release bad news. With hindsight we know that Cllr Davies’ press release on receipt of Grant Thornton’s report in March 2013 has a double-edged meaning. He refers to the “known failures of Internal audit” whereas we read the January 2012 report all 370 pages thereof, fully indexed and with supporting evidence, and applaud the preparer of it. We do boo Mr Garry’s lamentable attempt to cover up for his masters.

Somehow Mr Tour had deemed it proper to refer to the Police and yet permit Mr  Garry to procrastinate on a report for a full eight months. Mr Garry left his investigations on ISUS during that long interval with a telephone call to wirralbiz!

What of the sense of the DRAFT report of January 2012 among its many, many pages?

Nowhere to be found is a suggestion that either Mr Griffiths or myself were acting in the public interest but plenty of comment is made upon “Vendetta” against the BIG contractor Mr Paul Davies of Fieldcrest Ltd, that I was “having a go” at Mr Davies. The reader should understand the acronym “WB” meaning Whistleblower, was only given just before the November 2011 meeting with the PA and with Mr D Garry at the finance building. Mr Norman, then Head of Law, deliberated on whether we were motivated by personal and not public interest and needed to accept our pure motivations before the interview could commence!. The Timmins review of September 2012 was certainly correct to allude to this bias. It does not refer to the result of Mr Norman’s decision, that we were in a contractual relationship with WBC based on their published whistleblower policy for direct employees and subcontractors alike. The policy promised regular updates on progress and expedition in pursuing the policy. Neither took place.

Can we forgive the detectable bias towards defending colleagues discernible, for example, in the Lockwood Engineering Ltd case? The Principal Auditor {PA} accepts the Chief Accountant’s defence that in one month it is possible that there was a profit of £105,000! PA says that my comments re disappearance of £36,043 VAT creditor; appearance of  additional £49k debtors, disappearance of £16k creditors and all whilst the bank account increases, over just one month, are speculative! The PA never asks why the Chief accountant did not note these extraordinary movements between the Balance Sheet of the Management accounts at March 2010 and the Balance sheet used in the cashflow from 1st May 2010, or why a company capable of making £105,000 profit in one month should need a BIG grant.

THE PA does refer to the acting Head of Law, Mr Tour, the movement of assets from Lockwood to Harbac without any apparent payment (confirmed by myself by reference to the Liquidator) as being worthy of referral to external regulators. I discovered this in 2013 and referred it to Mr Tour and Mr Burgess who played dumb, then promised to investigate and come back to me, but never ever did. The penalty for perjury on a schedule of assets and liabilities to a liquidator can be a stiff prison sentence and yet our Council seems to have turned a blind eye to this so as not to let on that a BIG recipient went into liquidation 5 months after receiving public money in a supposedly “robust” process  (see cabinet notes). The press releases and Mr Burgess at the Audit and Risk Management Committee hearing 8th October 2014 refer not to the 5 months but to the much ,much longer period covering the liquidation process, that is to justify themselves by reporting that Lockwood went bust more than 17 months after receiving public money.

We do importantly learn that the financial forecasts were never submitted to the Independent Panel who had to rely on the written application and generally a 1-2 page appraisal from the Chief Accountant. In one case of the five cases that the PA reviews, the appraisal was not written by the Chief Accountant but by regeneration department itself. To Grant Thornton a panel member later expresses that he would have rejected applications had he seen the financials. The PA never records whether she approached panel members with the financial data nor any of their comments. The above is not the robust procedure asked for in the Cabinet’s outline. The Panel members appear in the light of “patsies” to lay a portion of responsibility upon or to claim that they were experts, so there!

We now know that in January 2012 Surjit Tour was aware that a Service Level Agreement had been written without consultation with the WBC legal or HR department and used without safeguards as to being signed by wirralbiz, or as to the quality expected of the work, or even as to outline the responsibilities and qualifications expected of advisors. Invest Wirral was indeed a satrapy in itself paying only nominal homage to its ultimate Emperor. The Invest Wirral officer who received the telephone call from M. Raworth outlining my objections to the BIG files felt herself satrap enough to dismiss me saying “It was approved by our Chief Accountant” and so another three months elapsed until James Griffiths upped the ante himself.

But I have promised not to stray into details and I check myself. Let me record that a process that allows one man to write a two page synopsis for a Panel to decide upon can whether deliberately or by simple omission fail to point out significant issues. In one case privately he confesses that giving public money to one applicant is a “leap of faith” but this does not reach the two page synopsis. Against all good practice no second review by a competent person ever occurs until voluntarily I perform due diligence in April 2011, having been denied access to the files until then.

The process was indeed a failure. BIG was a gimmick for £1.6m over two years would never have made an impact on the economy of Wirral unless it was done expertly and that was unattainable.

ISUS

Does it not seem strange that the PA records the results of details of Invest Wirral examination of wirralbiz files, which abound with delicate rephrasings for FORGED signatures and yet Mr Garry was permitted to drag on his meandering investigation with no sense of urgency? It seems that having seen a steaming turd the lady officers have recoiled in horror and asked of A4e-yes that paragon of virtue-to say it is not so. The PA speaks with Matthew Slack A4e’s  Head of Audit who fesses up re the dragonfly nature of their examination and she notes that no checks were made on the quality of files by Diane Bradbury of WBC or any WBC officer yet her observations do not rock the perceived impregnability of A4e’s audit that nothing is wrong. It took Grant Thornton to shatter that comfortable illusion and a further 29 months before we could read it in published reports.

The PA records she has asked for the ISUS/Working Neighbourhood contracts but does not record whether she received them so we are unaware whether Mr Adderley had as yet produced the excuse that it had been mislaid. She never references the all-important CRM database and makes no effort one month after the closure of ISUS to secure it, quite unlike myself who secured the internal wirralbiz database as evidence of their malpractice ( only accepted as evidence after Grant Thornton had reported). The CRM database in a say it is not so development, disappeared for a very long period indeed!

No alarm bells are loudly sounded that wirralbiz refuses access to its staff for interviews and indeed even to look at files after the ISUS contract terminates (16th December 2014). The PA visits for two hours on 14th December and then the portcullis is closed. If I had been WBC then I would have gone not to the defunct North West Development Agency (NWDA) but to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ultimate disbursers of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money. When I contacted the DCLG in 2012 they did not seem to have heard from WBC. Only in February 2013 did Mr Burgess write a letter threatening wirralbiz with legal costs should they not permit Grant Thornton entry and access to the files. A year is a long time in not threatening legal action unless you did not want again to see and smell the steaming turd. DCLG had every right by contract to examine the files for up to 25 years after closure of the contract and they did gain access in late 2014 there being nothing wirralbiz could do legally to prevent them (notwithstanding a break-in during 2013 where files may have been claimed to have been taken or put into disarray. Claimed!!).

Just one last thing for which I am grateful to the learned Mr Brace. He posits that the exemption defence used by WBC in the FOI case, that it would prejudice their internal audit function, might be due to the length of time expended in redacting out names from the 370 pages. It could not be used as a defence on cost limits as redactions are not included in the FOI costs exemption. They would never have tried it on because that would have been to admit the quantity of the documents they possessed which astonished myself for a DRAFT report. Scrutiny of the screenshot shows that the H: drive contained much of the information retrieved from directories on the “H:\finance\intaudit\fraud\restored_ from _26_07_14\big-isus2\ wirralbiz” suggesting that the exculpatory comment in the Timmins review that an internal desktop review would cost up to £10,000 might be exaggerated, and simply to buy more time. Cllr  Adrian Jones was told the papers were scattered to the four winds, hardly the actions of an internal auditor more those of a madman or maybe a dissembler.

Read the above whistleblower of the future and think twice.

“Typhoon” calls which makes for better reading.

RPT : Redacted ,Protracted & Traduced

 AREPEAT
“We wanted justice but you wouldn’t give it to us” – Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro
Now we’ve made no secret of the fact that at times we have found the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblowing case hard to fathom (and 600 + page Committee reports don’t help) However we do know that when we hear Wirral Council using the dreaded phrase “lessons have been learned” we know that something has gone badly awry.
Therefore when Her Ladyship told me that history was repeating itself and tied me to the wingback chair in the library I first thought we were re-enacting our wedding night. However she was just ensuring that I sat through a recording of the finale of the long drawn out saga fronted by indomitable whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro and his Aussie mate James Griffiths by showing me a recording of Wednesday’s Audit and Risk Mendacity Committee (we’re not saying that ARMC are mendacious but we are claiming that this committee has experienced enough “misleading statements” in it’s time).
We’re grateful for the fact that the recording and incisive commentary by John Brace on his blog saved us the trouble of looking at the back of  Burgesski’s head ( fashion tip from Her Ladyship: Comrade needs a haircut)……..
 So from his usual observation point on the front row the ever perceptive Mr.Brace drew parallels with the infamous Morton whistleblowing case which still casts a long,dark shadow over council proceedings. This suggests that once again that the “lessons learned” by Wirral Council warrant an F for Fail.
Certainly the redacted reports and protracted investigations reminded us of past misdemeanours although such was the welter of evidence produced by Hobro that the “No Case To Answer” stamp failed to materialise for once.The meeting itself seemed to be a bit of a fractious affair overseen by a charming new council officer/councillor double act : Tetchy Tour and Crabby Crabtree
Indicative of  the opposing viewpoints on display was the matter of a particularly contentious Internal Audit report which according to Burgesski “needed further work” whilst Hobro described it as a “pathetic piece of work” ( although we’re not sure whether he meant the report or the author !)………However we must refrain from such honestly held opinions as Burgesski doesn’t take kindly to council staff (past or present) being “traduced on social media” (!)  – funny how Burgesski doesn’t seem quite so animated on council officers being “traduced” by councillors ( but let’s not go there for the time being)  or council officers traducing whistleblowers.Perhaps he was concerned he’d have to whip out the cheque book again if someone’s feelings were hurt.” If only that cheque book could talk ! ….” sniped Her Ladyship , to which I retorted ” If that cheque book could talk it would be bound to be gagged”.
The general conclusion was that , yes ,mistakes were made ,nobody’s perfect,we’re moving forward etc;etc;etc when it came to dubious business practices and lax accounting and auditing processes which were supposed to be overseen by Wirral Council.
The people who ended up in hospital,losing their business and getting County Court judgements made against them – were forgotten about in a buck-passing masterclass – from Wirral Council to auditors Grant Thornton to Merseyside Police to North West Development Agency (with whom there are some interesting past associations) and back again.” It was before my time….” was a familiar refrain heard during the meeting.
The £46,000 payment to the former Chief Internal Auditor wasn’t before your time though was it Comrade?
As we’ve already reported the day after this meeting Burgesski announced his retirement so it seems that having once declared  : “We’ve won the war now it’s time to win the peace” it would appear that he no longer has the stomach for the fight.
And who can blame him?………there’s a H-bomb on the horizon.
H is for Hubris.