‘Ask not what the whistleblowers have done for themselves – ask what they have done for Wirral ….’

Nick Warren 017

The ‘whistleblowers’ in this particular case being those curious specimens who seem to be ‘courted and feted’ by the most powerful political figures on Wirral and still don’t seem to be able to cut themselves a lucrative deal . What’s that about?

Nick Warren 017

We say this as an even more curious Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been brought to or attention.

We note that Wirral Council’s nemesis Martin Morton is still – after all these years – on their case. We also note that Wirral Council have been forced to release parts of what seems to us to be the flimsiest report of all time.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_report#incoming-985784

Nick Warren 017

Regular readers will know that the Nick Warren report is the means by which Wirral Council (or more specifically the Labour administration) hope to extricate themselves from the most damning scandal in Wirral Council’s history.

Yes, just think about that for a moment.

Nick Warren 017

Whilst friend of Frankenfield , Nick Warren, invites us to consider what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral , we’re not allowed to find out what their magnificent achievements exactly are because it would appear that Morton ,in particular, and the people of Wirral in general, are not allowed to know. Apparently we’re just expected to shut up and stump up the shush money!

Nick Warren 017

So based on what we know if Warren is posing the question what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral we’d have to answer : ‘ FUCK ALL’ because as far as we’re concerned there is ‘FUCK ALL’ available in his report to base our answer on!

And so it would seem we’re a long way from the JFK ideal of selfless idealism. But then again he was a shady character wasn’t he? And let’s face it he was a politician!

All we can say is that it’s a shame there isn’t a grassy knoll available to blow certain local politician’s brains out – now that’s a ‘Warren Commission’ we could support!

An Extraordinary Council

an-extraordinary-council-010

An email has been sent to all Members of the Council concerning an extraordinary meeting to take place to discuss the urgent appointment to the soon to be notorious/infamous  ‘Investor Development Manager’ post

To all Members of the Council

Dear Councillor,

Would you please note that the Mayor has called an extraordinary meeting of the Council to be held on Monday, 6 March, 2017, at 5.30pm.

This extraordinary meeting has been called at the request of 24 Members, in accordance with Standing Order 1(4), to consider a Notice of Motion in respect of the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ (requisition notice attached).

This extraordinary meeting will precede the Budget Council meeting which will be held at 6.00pm, or upon the rising of the 5.30pm meeting, whichever is the later.

A summons for the meeting will be published nearer the time.

The story has already been reported here:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15056994.Twist_in_the_tale_as_special_meeting_called_after_Wirral_councillors_are_banned_from_asking_questions_over_new_business_chief/

And previously a report to Cabinet on 16 January 2017  dealt with the appointment as follows…

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

A request for the extraordinary meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However the extraordinary meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense as apparently one of the ‘key events’ is described as follows : ‘MIPIM Cannes is the premier event in the European Real Estate calendar and has become Europe’s showcase for major cities, property developments, investment opportunities and international networking’

http://www.liverpoolvision.co.uk/MIPIM/

Nice work if you can get it and you can get it – even when it’s a politically restricted post and you’re part of a corrupt political cabal!

We’re also becoming increasingly concerned by the role of the Assistant Chief Executive David Armstrong’s enabling role and his very dodgy decision making in the absence of the Chief Executive  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric seems to have abdicated all responsibility when it comes to decisions which may come back and bite him on his plushly upholstered backside. Meanwhile Armstrong seemingly sails serenely towards a sizeable pension pot and is quite happy to acquiesce to whatever his political paymasters ask of him. Witness also his decision to commission Nick Warren to stitch up the council taxpayers over the ‘Wirralgate’ scandal in the power/moral vacuum that followed Graham Burgess’s hasty departure and proceeded Stressed Eric’s appointment.

All of which leads us to conclude that ‘bureaucratic machinations’ doesn’t come close to describing how Wirral Council operates and what makes it  truly ‘ an extraordinary council’ for all the wrong reasons!

The Ugly Truth

ugly-sisters

 

Do you think Frank Field was forced to eat sprouts as a child ?

We ask this as he seems to have a deep aversion to greens. First it was Wirral Council Chief Officer Dave Green ,then it was the local Green Party which brought on a funny turn and now dragging every last ounce out of the ‘Sir’ Philip Green BHS scandal Fairy Godfather Frankenfield does what he does best –  being a world class hypocrite and asking for big fines for people who – legally if not morally – have done nothing wrong.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14979464.Frank_Field_urges_billion_pound_fines_to_prevent_repeat_of_BHS_pensions__disaster_/

He’s big on morality is Frankenfield – as long it’s not his own and those he’s protecting. If we didn’t dislike the ugly face of capitalism ‘Sir’ Phil  so much we’d be straight on to his solicitor Schillings with the ugly truth about what Frankenfield has been up to round here.

Lest we forget this involves St. Frank of the Foodbanks trying to get council taxpayers to stump up a bung to protect his Plug ugly* political agent Cllr George Davies (see above) and prevent an highly incriminating recording ending up in the public domain.

Here’s a thought – how about the local Labour group paying the group of complainants with the Wirralgate tapes and not the long suffering local Council Taxpayers ?

We say this as apparently the Wirralgate scandal is ‘live and sensitive’. Ironically we only know this because of a Freedom of Information request on What Do They Know. Needless to say Wirral Council have denied the release of the Nick Warren investigation report that will explain fully and without undue influence what all the fuss has been about all these years – yeah , right!

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_report#incoming-909829

What could be the possible explanation for the ongoing delay with resolving this case?.

Here’s our guess – current Council Chief Officers Eric Robinson, Joe Blott and especially Surjit Tour and David Armstrong all must know they’ll be tainted forever if they capitulate the immoral demands of the moral crusader Frankenfield. We’ll reluctantly give former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess aka Burgesski his due – he wasn’t prepared to be blackmailed by Frankenfield about a £48,000 payment to his ‘special friend’ because allegedly she was bullied and harassed by the other ugly sister in this sordid scenario – Foulkesy.

Have you ever known such a sleazepit in your entire life?

It all makes ‘Sir’ Philip Green look like Mother Theresa ( who as far as we’re concerned was no saint anyway

*The Plug uglies were of course an American street gang who were referred to as a political club. We couldn’t think of a more apt description for local politicians!

WIRRALGATE! – The Road Makers on the Make ?

road-makers-012

For those with their finger on the ‘record’ button the streets of Wirral are lined with gold.

We’ve never been able to settle on a collective name for the four men of mystery at the centre of the Wirralgate saga. Various reports and articles have referred to them as ‘The Group’, ‘The Complainants’ and  The Colas/HESPE/Highways ‘whistleblowers’. However their elusive nature and their absence from the Thynne investigations suggests to us they have a slippery quality – a bit like phlegm.

Similarly does anyone know what their gripe with Wirral Council was ever about?. We know they were a bit peeved about not getting a contract to mend the roads and replace the bulbs in the streetlights and they claimed there  was some jiggerypokery about how the contract was awarded to Colas . Something to do with EU contract regulations being flouted – like that’s something new with Wirral Council!. For example their dodgy arrangement with Wirral Mind springs to,er, mind. Nothing was ever done about that one for a start.

For a group of people who prize their anonymity it is surprising they were quite happy at one time to appear on the Channel 4 Despatches programme. However we understand they were so unconvincing they were replaced by the man who has championed their cause  – Birkenhead MP Frank Field who in his inimitable style stabbed his protegees in the back by claiming that Wirral was a small place and if a council officer bumped into a contractor during a tender process , well that was to be expected, now all move along  there’s nothing to see here.

Inexplicably Frankenfield was to later take claims of alleged nefarious wrongdoing to Merseyside Police and the the Serious Fraud Office – unsurprisingly neither were interested.  An Audit Commission report was, as ever with auditors , inconclusive and there was also an independent investigation into claims undertaken by external investigator Richard Penn whose “no case to answer” conclusion may be open to question but again nothing was ever proved.

Nevertheless our “heroes” , the men who Frankenfield claimed the people of Wirral owed so much (£192,000 to be precise) , have continued to pursue a compensation claim against Wirral Council. Other than briefly naming one of them  years ago on the Wirral Council website no-one has ever been able to tell us what exactly why they think they deserve compensation.

The best that Frankenfield could come up with was the vague notion as to whether they’d been treated “fairly” and then completely “unfairly” got his old mucker Nick Warren to undertake an inquiry!. Let’s face it if there was a bespoke inquiry every time people from  Wirral claimed to be hard done by the council there’d be a long and winding road between the two town halls and we’d be here ’til kingdom come.

But then when we consider that one of the main protagonists in the Wirralgate scandal is Frankenfield’s political agent Cllr George Davies it might explain why St. Frank has too much to lose and isn’t prepared to play Pompeia on this one.

Strangely the infamous recording where Cllr George Davies tries to secure what The Group/Complainants etc; themselves called a “Smear Deal”  is not in the Terms of Reference for that inquiry. You’d think if the Group/Complainants etc; were so keen to expose wrongdoing and wanting to make Wirral Council better for all of us you’d have thought the first thing they would have done would be to publicly release the tapes , especially when Cllr George Davies reneged on the arrangement to “sort them out”. The “Smear Deal” being reliant on them providing a signed copy of an old letter they’d sent to former council head of law Bill Norman . It would appear that not only did they hand over the document they then started touting the recording of Cllr George Davies left right and centre. Talk about wanting your tape and playing it too!. It’s no wonder it’s reported in the first Thynne investigation report that they received threats that if they produced the tape the “Smear Deal” was off.

Road Makers 009.JPG

We can’t help thinking that if the Warren inquiry was legit it should have been a pre- condition that if an inquiry took place then the recordings – and we understand there’s a number of them – should have been handed over . Then there could be no accusations , including from council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies , that a recorded telephone conversation was being used to extort money from Wirral Council.

Davies - Thynne 1 008

As it stands the only sensible conclusion is that the tapes are indeed a sordid means to a seedy end . Although it needs to be said that this is a situation which was created and dictated by a group of corrupt politicians and not by The Group etc; themselves. Having said that , ordinarily we’d support anyone taking on Wirral Council but these guys seemed to have played fast and loose with politicians, the press , us , other whistleblowers – anyone who could help progress their dubious claim for compensation.

Why we feel particularly let down here at Leaky Towers is that we have always understood that the Wirralgate scandal  was a once in a lifetime opportunity to expose the dark heart of Wirral Council and to hold accountable those who’d abused their power for many years whilst all the while destroying people’s lives and careers in the name of self enrichment and self-aggrandizement. This small cabal of  conniving, lying , scheming politicians should have been thrown out of office years ago.

Sadly it would seem that because of the road makers on the make politics on Wirral will remain forever in the gutter.

 

 

News Briefs

News Briefs

News Item 1

Our thanks go to the wag who sent us details of the News and Content Officer post being recruited to by Wirral Council and for asking us whether our very own Verity was applying!. Verity told that she is always true to her name so will be giving it a swerve !.

https://ww3.wirral.gov.uk/jobs/jobdetail.asp?VacancyID=7374&Other

However we’d like to wish the person responsible for “having  real enthusiasm for communicating what a fantastic place Wirral is to live and work”  the very best of luck. Let’s make a deal – you do the turdpolishing , we’ll do the dirty laundry!.We’re particularly looking forward to reading about Wirral Council Employee of the Month – from the stories we’ve covered that’ll be someone who hasn’t stolen the petty cash , handed over money to scam merchants , failed to follow procurement procedures or been involved in sexual shenanigans and senior management fisticuffs.

Talking of which …….

News Item 2

How delighted we were to see Kevin “Addled” Adderley at last weeks Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting – pockets bulging with Council taxpayers cash and telling the gathered throng about the wonderful things he was now doing in retirement with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

It wasn’t all good news though as we hear that Frank Field has stepped down from his role as Chair of the Committee. Frankenfield was always good for a petulant quote or two – who can forget his sly dig at this very blog?.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/frankie-says-wirral-leaks/

Frankenfield is still keeping his hand in (so to speak) as the new Chair is his political agent Cllr  George ” We Shall Overcomb”  Davies . We had questioned Frankenfield’s suitability to chair this Committee from the outset – should the local MP be making decisions on how the Council spends its money ?. But then he’s been used to spending Council money on his pet projects for years as Tony Kinsella and Nick Warren can testify (and we can only hope that one day they may have to !).

Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies helpfully explained that the selfless Birkenhead MP was spending  more time on “parliamentary duties” . By which we think he means having  a bitchfight with BHS bad boy “Sir” Philip Green.

Field has received a letter from Green’s lawyers asking him to apologise for comments he made comparing him unfavourably to pension plunderer Robert Maxwell.

Field told Sky News: “I don’t know how that will run, but it adds to the gaiety of life doesn’t it?”

Doesn’t it just sweetie!.

Frankenfield has gone on to call Green “evil” – which suggests to us that he has a particularly delicate sensibility or he needs to get out more and meet some of his constituents who contribute to his description of Birkenhead being “like Beirut”.

News Item 3

…and finally we read that Cllr Adrian “Janus-faced” Jones is the only Wirral Councillor to publicly support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by signing a pro-Corbyn letter (although we do know that fellow Labour councillors Treena Johnson and Louise Reecejones are also Jezza fans)

http://labourlist.org/2016/06/hundreds-of-councillors-sign-pro-corbyn-letter/

 

Father Christmas and eagle

Awks

 

 

 

The Gaslighters : Silent but Deadly

Lying

Wirral Council will be holding the most significant meeting in their history today.

What do you mean you haven’t heard about it?…… details are right there on their website. Oh no sorry they aren’t are they ?!.

Of course they’re not as Wirral Council’s gaslighting* of the masses continues unabated.

So what are we banging on about you might ask yourselves? – today (and possibly) tomorrow if the meeting is adjourned , in a room somewhere in Wallasey Town Hall , the details of the second (and hopefully more factually accurate ) Thynne Inquiry will be laid bare before a select few. A select few who have been sworn to secrecy and silence.

Not surprisingly we’ve made the comparison to the Chilcot Inquiry before –  delays, bureaucrats protecting their political masters, and the Maxwellisation of the process as politicians bleat about how they’re being picked on and it’s all so unfair.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/the-maxwellisation-of-wirral-council/

The only difference is it looks like The Chilcot Inquiry will actually get published very soon and discussion will take place in public . We even live in hope that there may actually be some sort of belated accountability for the Iraq war debacle.

But oh no not the Thynne Inquiry – what could possibly be so incendiary that it wouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day?. Could it be the truth about how some of the most senior politicians on Wirral conduct themselves and have been conducting themselves for many years ? . Destroying the lives and livelihoods of those who dared challenge their wrongdoing so that they could  maintain their reputations and positions of power – and what’s more using YOUR MONEY to do it!.

As we’ve said before it is the poison that has infected the body politic of Wirral for far too long. An infection that the likes of the Local Government Association and various consultants have diagnosed (for a big fat fee)  but chose to walk away from saying  to Wirral Council : physician heal thyself!.  The physician in this case being Harold Shipman.

Of course the Thynne Inquiry is just one half  of this sordid tale. Does anyone know if the Nick Warren Review (allegedly completed in April 2015) will  ever see the light of day?. No – thought not!. Whilst we might know that both of the reports from these investigations are different sides of the same sordid ,moneygrubbing coin known as Wirralgate –  why is it that  the people of Wirral aren’t allowed to know ?. Is it because they’re just considered to be the mugs kept in perpetual ignorance  and yet are expected pick up the tab for covering up corruption in high places.

Therefore we ask is it too much to expect that Wirral Council communications tsar Martin Liptrotsky should be enlightening rather than gaslighting the press about today’s momentous meeting?.

 

*Gaslighting

The Wirralgate Files

The W Files

We’ve had numerous enquiries asking us were the Wirralgate saga is up to because it’s been oh so quiet. So we’ve contacted some trusted and well placed sources to find out where things are at as clearly Wirral Council have absolutely no intention of telling us.

Apparently there are two Wirralgate files held in complete secrecy under lock and key. Firstly and figuratively in the red corner we have the Nick Warren review and in the blue corner we have the Patricia Thynne re-review.

Apparently the latter was to be discussed (behind closed doors) at a meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee on Monday , 8th February – no laughing at the back ,yes Wirral Council do have such a committee. Not that they meet very often as you can see from the number of postponements and cancellations which tells us much about how local councillors are concerned about standards and oversight of their own conduct.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=684&Year=0

However in a typical Wirral Council move the meeting has been reconvened nearly  2 months later to 31st MARCH !.

Why so ? I hear you all cry.

There can only be one explanation and that is that it has been moved to ensure that the meeting takes place during purdah. The purdah period typically begins six weeks before the scheduled local elections in May. The time period prevents the councillors using their knowledge of Council business that would be advantageous or disadvantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Where actual advantage to candidates is proven in law this amounts to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.Ironically its breach carries with it the possibility of actions for abuse of power and misconduct in public office which is what the Wirralgate files are all about!!!!.

So what better way to ensure that councillors keep their gobs shut about what they know!.

Fortunately there are no councillors who work at Leaky Towers so Wirral Council need not rely on us keeping our gobs shut. And please Wirral Council spokesperson don’t piously give us that crap about interfering with due process – you wouldn’t know due process if it bit you on your expensively upholstered backside.The fact is that the most senior politicians and officers have been keeping a lid on this scandal since July 2013 simply because they have the money and power to do so.

What they seem to forget is that it is OUR money and the power WE have invested in them to act in accordance with their professional codes of conduct and The Seven Principles of Public Life (aka The Nolan Principles).

  1. Selflessness
  2. Integrity
  3. Objectivity
  4. Accountability
  5. Openness
  6. Honesty
  7. Leadership

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

So far Wirral Council we score you zero out of seven. Although let’s face it they probably think the Nolan Principles mean they need to be in the mood for dancing!.

As for the bogus Nick Warren review – Lord knows where that is up to (or more accurately he doesn’t know because if he did he would tell you!).

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/time-and-trouble/

For all we know “The Complainers” could have been boxed off by now and the golden opportunity to finally rid Wirral Council of the poison that has made it into such a sick organisation has been exchanged for 30 pieces of silver (or however much Frankenfield has negotiated on their behalf) .

As far as we’re concerned somebody needs to send for Jessica Fletcher as it looks like it’s going to be murder this purdah!.

AngelaLansbury

 

Time and Trouble

Ethics DH Lawrence

Well,well, well – less than a week after our “Free and Frank” story https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/exclusive-free-and-frank/

Wirral Council finally see fit to disclose the Terms of Reference (TOR)  for the Nick Warren review requested by ex-Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton nine months ago!.

No wonder he added the annotation :

“I’m wondering whether it was the ICO Decision Notice issued on
December 15th 2015 or the article published by Wirral Leaks on
January 14th 2016 that was more effective in ensuring this
information was disclosed!.
Shameful behaviour yet again by Wirral Council.”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_terms#outgoing-461140

We are particularly grateful that this document is in the public domain as we can now have a “free and frank discussion” about what is a fascinating insight into the warped world of Wirral Council.

Warren Commission

The title of the Terms of Reference for the Warren Commission  is “Review: Allegations raised by former employees of the Council concerning their treatment”  which  was compiled by Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour who makes the review sound as though it could be about prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay.

First we have “Background” (of which there is very little)  where Tour tells us :

” I appoint Nicholas Warren (R) to review the circumstances surrounding the allegation of a breach of confidence by four former employees of the Councils (“the complainants”).

What Tour’s motive for going along with this sleazy charade we can only hazard a guess as he seems to have a twisted symbiotic relationship with council leaders especially  when he is in some ways responsible for instigating this whole sordid saga in the first place.In fact we think we may have just answered our own question!.

However we are particularly grateful that he has coined a collective term for the people at the centre of this review. ” The Complainants” seems a much more accurate description than “whistleblowers”.

“The Complainants” complaining about their treatment by Wirral Council whilst their own treatment of Wirral Councillors and council officers (including Tour) is for some reason seemingly ignored.

We also learn that despite not having a legal claim for compensation (for if they did it surely have been settled by now) Wirral Council saw fit to offer them a £ 3,000 “time and trouble payment” to “The Complainants” .Bless.

We presume the three grand bung was more for trouble they could cause rather than the time the boo hoo boys spent telling everyone how badly done to they were.

However “The Complainants” knew that what they knew or rather what they had recorded on the Wirralgate tapes  was worth much more than £3,000 each.More importantly their benefactor Frank Field MP knew it was worth much more to protect himself and his political agent Cllr George Davies , who in turn was trying to protect his reckless bezzy  Cllr Steve Foulkes. Meanwhile feckless Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies has had no choice but to go along with this scandalous scheming even though it has been alleged he too was recorded saying ” I can’t defend that” when he heard the Wirralgate tapes.

Enter : Nicholarse Warren.

The second part of the Tour’s TOR is ironically titled : “Principles governing the Review”.

Principles!!! . We wonder where various Code of Conduct principles fit in here?

Did Tour ever think when he was training to be a solicitor that he would be drafting something which reads to us like How To Legitimise Dodgy Payments to Complainants

Interesting to note that Nicholarse Warren is to consider all the circumstances of the matter relating to “The Complainants” and yet seemingly  pre-empting his findings Tour records that : “If it came to a question of expenditure Warren would have to take soundings from the District Auditor about its scale and any recommendation made by (Warren) involving expenditure by the Council must be limited to what local authority accounts rules permit ;and be within the bounds of what the District Auditor would accept as reasonable”.

Hang on didn’t Wirral council state in a previous response (see What Do They Know FOI request above) that  :” Warren has not been given any decision making powers by the Council in respect of awarding or making any compensation payments. Any decision to pay compensation would be a matter for the Council. For the avoidance of doubt, no decision has been made on whether any compensation should be paid.” 

Let’s face it the decision and the amount of compensation was expected to be a formality when  Frank Field “demanded”  £48,000 each for “The Complainants” in October 2014.That’s nearly £200,000 of public money to cover up corruption.It is of course now January 2016 and no further compensation payment has seemingly been made – so what could possibly have happened to prevent Field getting his own way?.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/give-a-little-whistle/

However the most troubling aspect of Tour’s TOR  is described thus :

” The Council will indemnify R (Warren) against the reasonable costs of defending any defamation action or threat of defamation action against R in his role as the R and any damages awarded against R in any such action.Any threat of or institution of such proceedings shall immediately notified to the Monitoring Officer and no liability shall be admitted by R”

This is a simply astonishing  indemnity as it seems that Warren is given carte blanche to defame anyone he chooses in his review and (once again) Wirral Council will pick up the tab  if he does so!.If we ignore as to  whether Wirral Council have the authority to indemnify someone who is not an elected member or employee of the Council we have to ask ourselves as to the dubious motive for doing so? . Could it be that this allows uncorroborated allegations made by The Complainants against former Wirral Council employees who do not have a right of reply to be included in the review report?.

Although we’ve been covering this particular story since August 2013 the threat of defamation has never occurred to us as our sources can substantiate their allegations.We can only hope that The Complainants/Warren can do  the same when it comes to their respective claims/findings.

 

EXCLUSIVE: A Frank Discussion

Frank's In A Mess

Is Frank finally beginning to realise that Wirralgate isn’t going away and that defending the indefensible could be his downfall?

We were reminded this week of an article we’d posted a year ago.At the same time we were also pointed in the direction of a significant development relating to the article :

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/the-godfather/

We wrote last year : “There was a collective scratching of heads and dropping of jaws at Leaky Towers when we read highly concerning local press reports about the appointment of a retired judge to undertake “an informal review ” of an infamous and seemingly neverending Wirral Council whistleblowing case.  We at Leaky Towers shall henceforth be calling this review “The Warren Commission” – a title which conspiracy theorists will no doubt appreciate.
We consider that Wirral Council’s press release and subsequent statements given to the media by local politicians about this review are highly dubious, open to serious question and much closer scrutiny.”

As we all know this “informal review” was opportunistically cobbled together by Birkenhead MP Frank Field in the Wirral Council Chief Executive void after Graham Burgess’s “retirement” and Eric Robinson’s “appointment” .The void in this case being the highly paid pushover David Armstrong.

However our old whistleblowing friend Martin Morton has a particular interest in this case and was having none of it. He made a particularly incisive Freedom of Information (FOI) request about what the review was all about and how it came about. Wirral Council have since sought to frustrate his request at every turn. Although Morton must be blue in the face by now at least he’s not red in the face like Wirral Council CEO Eric “Feeble ” Robinson.Indeed we believe this has been Stressed Eric’s first encounter with Juggernaut Morton and let’s face it there was only going to be one person coming out of that collision unscathed.

We know that Stressed Eric was instrumental in thwarting Morton as apparently the Chief Executive is the only person qualified  at Wirral Council to be able to apply a Section 36 exemption and prevent the disclosure of information that had been requested .This was an attempt  to prevent Morton or indeed anyone from accessing the Terms of Reference for the highly dubious review undertaken by former tribunal judge and close friend of prominent local politicians – Nick Warren.

However the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have now issued a Decision Notice in Morton’s favour.The Decision Notice is a salutary lesson  to the likes of Welsh windbag Cllr Adrian Jones.It has been reported that Jones recently “scolded” local nose disease John Brace by publicly accusing him  of wasting public money for asking for information that he shouldn’t have to ask for in the first place!.

How about the fake “whistleblowing gatekeeper” hanging his head in shame and consider the amount of public money Wirral Council wastes covering up malpractice and misconduct and much more besides!.

The Decision Notice is revealing in itself as Wirral Council try all kinds of exemptions to try and keep a lid on this not very subtle attempt at a cover up .However we gasped at the sheer chutzpah of Stressed Eric claiming that disclosing the Terms of Reference for the Frankenfield commissioned Warren stitch -up job , sorry “review”  would inhibit-

“the free and frank provision of advice, or the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.”

We all know that what Wirral Council do NOT want in this particular case is anything free and frank. The only Frank aspect to this case is the man himself and his plot to keep his favourite recording artists sweet certainly won’t be free! .As for the effective conduct of public affairs ( no we’re not talking about those public affairs which proved to be very costly to Wirral Council !) – we’d like to know how they can talk about the effective conduct of public affairs  when what they’re covering up is the MISCONDUCT of public affairs!!!.

However the upshot of it all is that the ICO quite rightly came to the conclusion that the information  requested should be disclosed  and have upheld Morton’s appeal and published their Decision on their website:

Upon viewing the withheld information, it is the terms of reference provided to the individual appointed to carry out the inquiry from the Council. The Commissioner does not consider that disclosure of this particular information would result in the prejudice claimed based upon the arguments provided. It is the terms upon which the Council engaged Nick Warren to carry out the inquiry. It does not relate to the provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, it is the Council instructing the terms of reference under which the inquiry should be carried out. Furthermore, the Commissioner considers that the qualified person has taken irrelevant arguments into account when reaching the opinion in this case, for example, in its submissions to the Commissioner, the Council said that “It is clear to the qualified person that such discussions would have been inhibited had those senior officers not believed that those discussions would be kept confidential.” There are no ‘discussions’ contained within the withheld information, it is the terms of reference on which the inquirer was engaged. The Commissioner does not therefore consider that the opinion of the qualified person is a reasonable one as it is does not appear to be based upon the specific information which is being withheld.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2015/1560409/fs_50590454.pdf

Even more illuminating is the original FOI request made by Morton which is  freely available on the WhatDoTheyKnow  website . We’ve added our comments to his questions and Wirral Council’s answers :

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_terms#outgoing-461140

Dear Mr. Morton,

The Council has been in touch with the ICO and given our position in
relation to this enquiry.   Please see Council’s response to your ICO
complaint below.  You asked questions listed a to g and these are listed
below, along with our responses.

a) The terms of reference for the above inquiry

Response – The Chief Executive who is the qualified person in relation to
a review when Section 36 has been applied to a request, has considered
this part of your enquiry and seeks to rely on Section 36 to withhold
these terms of reference.  The Chief Executive considers that 36 (2) (b)
(i) and (ii) are engaged and has relied on this exemption because it is
his reasonable view that it is appropriate in this case.  He believes that
disclosure would inhibit-

(i) the free and frank provision of advice, or

(ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation.

In coming to this decision, he has had regard to the guidance issued by
(Information Commissioners)  Office  ” Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs”,version 2.

The original response given when relying on this exemption has been
carefully considered and the Chief Executive believes it was correct to
apply this exemption.  If the information requested were disclosed then
the conduct of discussions by senior officers of the Council concerning
issues of appropriate gravity would be fundamentally undermined.

It is clear to the Chief Executive that such discussions would have been
inhibited had those senior officers not believed that those discussions
would be kept confidential.  The prospect of disclosure of this
information would lead to a less candid exchange of views and ideas.   The
Council still contests that the likelihood of prejudice is significant and
weighty.  Inhibiting the provision of advice and the free and frank
exchange of views, may impair the quality of decision making of the
Council and have a ‘chilling effect’ Paragraph 49 of the guidance states

“If the issue in question is still live, arguments about a chilling effect
on those ongoing discussions are likely to be most convincing”.

It is also still relevant to have regard to the sensitivity of the
information in question and the Council wishes to have the exemption
contained in Section 36 (b) (i) and (ii) engaged, having regard to the
issues still being live and of a sensitive nature.

The Council did originally consider the test under s.2(2)(b),of FOIA,
namely that “in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in
maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information”.  The Chief Executive has revisited this, weighed the factors
and continues to hold the view that the Public interest factors against
maintaining the exemption are:-

Public interest in the promotion of transparency and accountability in
relation to the activities of public authorities

Public interest factors for maintaining the exemption are:-

Reduction of the ‘chilling effect’ when matters of particular sensitivity
are being discussed
Reduces the likelihood of inhibition of future discussion in respect of
issues, which are still live and of a sensitive nature.

Therefore the Council stands by its original view that the public interest
in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing
the information.

Wirral Leaks says : So now we know (as if we didn’t know already) where Stressed Eric stands on public interest !.He’s not interested in the public! As for ” chilling effect” on decision making etc;. Who are they trying to kid?.This is a group of powerful political figures and highly paid public officials digging a hole for themselves and now they want to be able to dig themselves out of it using public money and don’t want members of the public peering into the hole whilst they go about their dirty business !. 

Thankfully ICO saw fit to see through all this – although we await to see whether Wirral Council will squander yet more public money appealing this decision.  

b) Details of financial/contractual arrangements between Wirral Council
and Nicholas/Nick Warren which relate to directly to this inquiry
(including any provisions for external legal advice)

Response – There has been no remuneration paid to Mr. Warren, but please
note the review has not yet been completed.

Wirral Leaks says : Hang on!  didn’t Frankenfield  have a self-righteous hissyfit claiming that Warren’s review/inquiry/stitch-up had been completed in April 2015.He was complaining to Wirral Globe in July 2015:

“I am deeply troubled by this delay.It is almost ten weeks since the report was completed and filed, and we are clearly getting nowhere.”

 http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/13380011.Storm_as_MP_accuses_council_chiefs_of__abusing_power__over_Wirral_whistleblower_inquiry_delay/

A further six months have now passed and still no deal appears to have been struck – has Frankenfield’s grand plan become unstuck?  

c) The specific legal provisions under Local Government Act 1972 s101 by
which Mr. Warren is potentially able to make decisions about compensation
payments by Wirral Council to whistleblowers (according to Frank Field Mr.
Warren’s “findings will be binding on
both parties”)

Response – Mr Warren has not been given any decision making powers by the
Council in respect of awarding or making any compensation payments. Any
decision to pay compensation would be a matter for the Council. For the
avoidance of doubt, no decision has been made on whether any compensation
should be paid. The Council has therefore no recorded information to
supply in respect of this question.

Wirral Leaks says : So are you saying Frankenfield WAS talking bollocks about Warren’s findings being binding on both parties and nobody at Wirral Council’s Legal Department sought to correct him?.

d) the specific legal provisions under Local Government Act s101 by which
Frank Field MP can “demand” payments be made to
whistleblowers by Wirral Council

Response – There are no specific legal provisions under which Frank Field
MP can “demand” payments to be made to whistleblowers by Wirral
Council. The Council has therefore no recorded information to supply in
respect of this question.

Wirral Leaks says: So once again did it not occur to  someone to have a quiet word with Frankenfield , put him in his place tell him ” sorry to have to tell you but you can’t  “demand” payments be paid to anyone because you’re not actually the Leader of Wirral Council or even an elected member”.Although it probably didn’t occur to anyone to tell him this because we all know Frankenfield IS and always has been the de facto Leader of Wirral Council anyway!.  

e) The specific legal provisions under Local Government Act s101 by which
Frank Field MP can appoint/recommend Nick Warren to undertake this inquiry

Response – There are no specific legal provisions under which Frank Field
MP can appoint an individual to undertake an inquiry on behalf of the
Council.  Frank Field MP is entitled to recommend an individual to
undertake an inquiry but the decision to appoint Nick Warren was made by
Wirral Council.

Wirral Leaks says : Oh and he happened to recommend one of his oldest friends and long standing supporters .No conflict of interest there at all is there!?.Talking of which……

f) Any declarations relating to the inquiry made by Mr.Warren/Mr. Field
relating to prior affiliation (publicly acknowledged by both Mr. Field and
Council leader Phil Davies) and/or conflict of interest

Response – Nick Warren has been known to Frank Field MP for many years and
Councillor Phil Davies knows of Nick Warren.  There is no known conflict
of interest and nor has any conflict of interest been brought to Council’s
attention by Mr. Warren or Mr Field.

Wirral Leaks says : “There is no known conflict of interest…” ???.Oh come on this whole arrangement is a sham.Warren was intended to be is a safe pair of hands and the means to legitimise payments to people with incriminating recordings involving Labour politicians and particularly Frankenfield’s political agent.Simple as that.

g) How the findings of the inquiry are to be publicly reported

Response – Given the nature of the inquiry and the issues being considered
there are a number of factors to bear in mind before a decision is made to
publish in full or a redacted version.  Issues being considered include
whether there has been any wrong doing by current or ex-employees and the
Council needs to balance all competing issues before a decision is taken
regarding publication.  At this point in time the report has not been
finalised and consideration may need to be given to such issues as a right
of reply, before a final decision can be taken on publication, whether
whole or in part.

Wirral Leaks says : Looks like to us that Wirral council are pre-empting any findings and looking for reasons NOT to publish the report.It’s the usual story of the public paying for a report that they’re not allowed to read ! .

And Wirral Council wonder why members of the public end up making  FOI requests!…… 

Not the End

 

The Godfather

Godfrank

There was a collective scratching of heads and dropping of jaws at Leaky Towers when we read highly concerning local press reports about the appointment of a retired judge to undertake “an informal review ” of an infamous and seemingly neverending Wirral Council whistleblowing case.  We at Leaky Towers shall henceforth be calling this review “The Warren Commission” – a title which conspiracy theorists will no doubt appreciate.
We consider that Wirral Council’s press release and subsequent statements given to the media by local politicians about this review are highly dubious, open to serious question and much closer scrutiny.

Therefore it is left to Wirral Leaks to deconstruct these press statements in the name of openness,transparency and most importantly the PUBLIC INTEREST – all of which seem to be alien concepts to some of our most prominent so-called public servants……

Let’s start off with excerpts from the Wirral Globe : HERE
Firstly we are grateful that they have corrected the description of “Nicholas” Warren as a retired high court judge. How remiss of the Globe’s sources not to seek to immediately correct this description, especially when they’re not usually backward in coming forward when it comes to anything they believe to be misleading or inaccurate (or more usually embarrassing or incriminating).
No – this is Nick Warren – a Birkenhead solicitor who chaired benefit tribunals…..and has been personally appointed by Birkenhead MP Frank Field to box this little local difficulty off once and for all . To which all we can say is : in your dreams Frankenfield.

Now this particular Mr.Warren is very much part of Wirral Labour’s Inner Ring ( a phrase we’ve picked up from Morton’s Open Letter to Wirral Council sent to us just before Christmas and which is suddenly beginning to make more and more sense and which we will be following up at a later date. ) We understand Old Nick is very much an old friend of Frankenfield and they go back a very long way indeed. There are unconfirmed reports that Frankenfield is Godfather to one of his children.This may or may not be true but in every other sense Frankenfield seems to be THE Godfather round here. A source writes: “Apparently Warren used to work for Frank at the Child Poverty Action Group before either of them came to Birkenhead. Stinks to high heaven.”

Let’s just hope all the right declarations about conflict of interest have been made. For example what are Nick Warren’s links to the local Labour group?

The Globe helpfully clarifies that The Warren Commission is to lead an inquiry into the way a group of Wirral whistleblowers have been treated by the council – and decide whether they should receive compensation.

Wirral Leaks comments : This particular group of Wirral whistleblowers have been known by various names – HESPE/Colas whistleblowers and more recently in the Patricia Thynne report involving allegations of misconduct concerning Councillors George Davies and Steve Foulkes as “The Group” ( a term of reference that we have adopted at Wirral Leaks).
Wirral Globe :Nicholas Warren will carry out the review once the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry has been agreed by council leader Phil Davies.The move comes after Birkenhead MP Frank Field met with the authority’s now-retired chief executive Graham Burgess in November, demanding that a sum of £48,000 in compensation given to an unnamed senior council officer should also be paid to the whistleblowers.

Wirral Leaks: Now Wirral Leaks devotees will know that this alleged payment of £48,000 has always deeply troubled us. But what troubles us even more is that Frankenfield thinks he can stroll into a Wirral Council Chief Executive’s office and demand the same kind of compensation for The Group without due legal process.  Of course “now-retired” Graham Burgess has left Wirral Council so Frankenfield doesn’t have quite the same leverage he once had in negotiations as we understand that Burgess was very much compromised with regard to this £48,000 pay-off (in more ways than one).

Wirral Globe : Mr Field said the group are suffering severe hardship and are “on the point of bankruptcy” after raising their concerns over a multi-million pound outsourced highways contract. He claimed the payment to the anonymous officer, who it is understood had suffered at the hands of town hall bullies, was the least the council do in the circumstances.

Wirral Leaks : We do hope that Frankenfield and The Group are able to evidence that they are “suffering severe hardship” and “on the point of bankruptcy” especially when we understand that they may have all been continuously and gainfully employed and there may have already been compensation payments made (although not by Wirral Council). What we’d particularly like to know is how Frankenfield thinks there is any equivalence between these two cases. Did The Group “suffer at the hands of town hall bullies”? – reading The Thynne Report it makes it sound it was the other way round!  Could it be that the compensation payment of £48,000 was also made without any evidence that the recipient had suffered any financial loss as clearly they are still in post as Head of Neighbourhoods and Engagement?

Furthermore if Wirral Council taxpayers have had to stump up just under £50,000 (thereby evading any public scrutiny as we understand the Chief Executive has the authority to sign off anything under £50K – no questions asked) can we state that we make these claims in the PUBLIC INTEREST. We firmly believe that when public money is given to public servants because of the alleged malpractice of other public servants this should NOT be hidden from public scrutiny under the guise of confidentiality and privacy.

This then becomes a COVER-UP and Frankenfield seems curiously anxious not to challenge this precedent but to replicate it !….and we think we know why!

Wirral Globe: His (Frank Field) demands led to agreement that Mr Warren should carry out an informal review and that his findings will be binding to both parties. Mr Field told the Globe: “I am delighted that Nick Warren has agreed to take this review.He has one of the finest legal minds in the country and if anyone can get to the bottom of what has gone on – and decide whether the whistleblowers have been fairly treated or not – he can.

Wirral Leaks: Hang on – if this is an informal review with no legal standing how can findings be “binding on both parties” ? We presume that this statement heralds the potential return to the bad old days of pay-offs and Compromise Agreements to hide malpractice and misconduct. Frankenfield seems very selective about making “demands” doesn’t he ? and the making of such demands also suggests his baleful influence extends way beyond that of being the MP for Birkenhead. Furthermore we’re absolutely sure Frankenfield is “delighted” about The Warren Commission being undertaken by “one of the finest legal minds in the country”. You’d certainly think that someone who fitted such a description would have a much bigger public profile or perhaps Warren is just very modest and keeps his legal wisdom within the confines of Houlihan’s……

Wirral Globe :The added advantage of Mr Warren leading the inquiry is that he has no connection with the ongoing case and can approach it with a completely clear and unbiased view.

Wirral Leaks: Oh I think we know what the “added advantage” of the Warren Commission to Frankenfield is don’t we boys and girls?

To reassure the Wirral public that this review is unbiased we request that any prior connections and affiliations to any interested parties is openly and publicly declared or we’re heading for the same sort of outcry that accompanied the short-lived appointments of Judge Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss to head up a national Child Abuse Inquiry because of their prior connections and affiliations.

Actually – who are we kidding – there will be no such outcry. This is Wirral where political apathy rules and therefore the abuse of power will probably continue unchecked .

Wirral Globe : His review will get underway as soon as Phil Davies, who is extremely keen for a fair and equitable outcome, signs-off the terms of reference.

Wirral Leaks: Well this is an interesting (but entirely understandable) turn around. Didn’t Council Leader Phil Davies state that “The Group were trying to use the content of the phone conversation to pressurise him into settling their claim” . The phone conversation to which Davies refers is of course contained on the infamous Wirralgate tapes – which of course is what we think this little circus is really all about.

Are we to assume then that the Wirralgate tapes have been handed over and will be part of the investigation about how the whistleblowers were “treated by the Council”. It’s the only way to counter allegations that the tapes are the real means to a “fair and equitable” outcome. Otherwise it looks suspiciously like Quid Pro Quo ( a legal term which Mr.Warren will no doubt be familiar with) – we’ll sort you out if you bury the tapes (which is similar to the tapes themselves which were concerned with sorting The Group out if they provided incriminating document about a political opponent)

Wirral Globe : Mr Field has been battling to reach a settlement with the authority for several years after a group of former council employees – acting under whistleblowing law – voiced concerns of alleged “irregularities” in a £40m contract with highways maintenance company Colas.

Wirral Leaks: And of course a subsequent investigation conducted by Richard Penn concluded there was “no case to answer” with regard to alleged “irregularities” . We seem to remember there have been at least 5 investigations regarding The Group’s case and we are still are none the wiser about the extent any malpractice (or indeed if there was any) . This begs the question as to why Frankenfield has been battling to reach a settlement for The Group if there was no foundation to their claims. Now either he knows more than he’s letting on and that the Penn report was a stitch up or he has an ulterior motive in pursuing this settlement. Which is it?

Wirral Globe : In November, he (Frank Field) told the Globe: “Their whistleblowing resulted in an almost clean sweep of senior council officers.

Wirral Leaks : This is simply untrue. No disciplinary action of any senior council officer ever took place as a result of The Group’s “whistleblowing” and former Chief Executive Jim Wilkie went off sick ,never to return just after the publication of the damning AKA report in January 2012 – 10 months before Penn published his report .

Wirral Globe : ( Field ) – “The debt Wirral owes to those who blew the whistle is considerable. And yet they gained no compensation for the damage that has occurred to their careers.There were last year carried information (sic) that a senior officer of the council was paid a fraction under £50,000 after allegedly being bullied by an even more senior officer. Surely the case of the whistleblowers is more deserving than the case of this officer, who is still in post”.

Wirral Leaks : We note that Frankenfield provides absolutely no evidence to support his allegation that Wirral Council’s head of Engagement and Communities was bullied by an even more senior officer (can he, in the public interest , name the officer involved and identify whether he is aware of any disciplinary action that resulted from Wirral Council having to shell out nearly 50K because of such unacceptable conduct).

We do know that Graham Burgess claimed that the payment was a result of “corporate failure” to respond to an allegation of bullying. Corporate Failure we presume being a euphemism for the Leader of the Council – who at the time the allegation was made was…..Councillor Steve Foulkes!

It’s all beginning to fit into place isn’t it ?- unless Wirral Council would like to publicly deny any of these claims.

The Liverpool Echo also seems to have based it’s story on press release statements from the same sources. HERE

Liverpool Echo : The whistleblowers had highlighted concerns about the authority’s former multimillion pound highways contract.
Wirral Leaks: Which up until now appear to be unfounded. What has never been revealed is that the whistleblowers themselves had also bid for this particular contract …….

Liverpool Echo : But several have since lost their jobs while in July 2012 the then acting chief executive of the council, David Armstrong, was forced to issue an “unreserved apology” after a blunder allowed one of them to be stripped of his anonymity when his name was published on the authority’s website.

Wirral Leaks: As we have always been led to believe that The Group comprised 4 whistleblowers how can it be said that “several have since lost their jobs ” when we know that contracts of employment would probably have been transferred from Wirral Council to Colas to Bam Nuttall in accordance with employment law.

Once again this statement is inaccurate. What is true (and the only example of mistreatment of The Group that we actually know about) is that indeed the anonymity of one of the whistleblowers was compromised by Wirral Council.

But can anyone remember the name of the whistleblower involved ? – it’s on our blog somewhere but we simply can’t be bothered referencing it and anyway we can remember a time when the whistleblower involved was quite happy for his identity to be revealed or we simply would not have printed his name. Once again we’re wondering how this whistleblower is going to demonstrate how this cock-up has adversely affected their career.

Liverpool Echo: At a meeting with council chiefs last year Mr Field called on the council to act quickly to compensate the whistleblowers who he says have suffered since highlighting their concerns.

Can Frankenfield please describe the nature of their “suffering” exactly…. ?

Liverpool Echo : The MP said the debt Wirral owes the whistle-blowers “is considerable” and yet they gained no compensation for “the damage, or potential damage” that has occurred to their careers.

Wirral Leaks: After at least 4 previous investigations can the”influential” MP explain exactly what Wirral owes these whistleblowers?  Eldritch rather succinctly if crudely states that it is : “Fuck all….”

That’s not to say we don’t think The Group should not be compensated. We wholeheartedly do ….but simply not from dwindling council funds.

We think Wirral Labour need to be dipping into their fighting fund as it is they who have ruthlessly played cat and mouse with The Group and have engaged them in a dangerous double bind from which they seem to be trying to extricate themselves by means of a pay-out from the public purse.

Liverpool Echo: The group of whistleblowers were told by the council in 2012 to employ lawyers, Mr Field said, to obtain compensation but he said they have “nearly bankrupted themselves in the process with mounting legal fees and with no compensation package being offered”.

If The Group has been paying lawyers for over two years might we suggest no compensation package has been offered to The Group could it be because a) lawyers have been leading them up the garden path and/or b) they do not have a legitimate legal claim against Wirral Council …..they cannot take their case to an Employment Tribunal,they don’t seem to be able to bring a claim for bullying – so what is the basis of their claim ? (other than 1 person’s confidentiality has been breached ). All we know for sure is that they have a series of taped recordings which incriminate Wirral’s leading politicians in acts that could be interpreted as criminal.

Liverpool Echo : Mr Field said: “I met with the former chief executive Graham Burgess before Christmas with the whistleblowers to seek some way of settling in a fair and equitable manner their grievance. They said I could suggest a chair to review how the authority behaved. I suggested Nick Warren, who is just retired and lives in Birkenhead, but has no knowledge of the case.”

Wirral Leaks : Lady W spluttered out her sherry on reading this : “Where’s Old Nick been – living in a cave? Are we really expected that someone who should be so well informed about the local political scene would have no knowledge of the case?  Poppycock!”

Liverpool Echo : Mr Field said the retired judge would have access to the whistleblowers, council and documentation and said: “I’m hoping we might now get justice, a settlement that is fair and just to the whistleblowers.”

Wirral Leaks : And of course Warren will also get access to a bumper pay-cheque Who knows , if he plays his cards right , he can spin it out as long as Anna Klonowski. Unless of course he’s doing the work pro bono or donating the cheque to charites fighting poverty…….

Liverpool Echo: Council leader Phil Davies said: “We have agreed that the review will go ahead and we will await his report.I know Nick quite well and he is a very distinguished judge and I’m sure he will do a thorough job.”

Wirral Leaks : All of us at Wirral Leaks are in complete agreement with Pip ,especially when he knows him “quite well” and that indeed Warren will do a thorough job (wink,wink nudge nudge)

A council spokesman said: “Terms of reference have yet to be agreed regarding the proposed review so it is not possible to confirm timescales or exactly what form any subsequent report might take.”

Wirral Leaks: Ok we’ll do it on behalf of the highly paid council spokesperson – we anticipate the report won’t be completed until after the May elections and will then be exempt from any Freedom of Information requests on the grounds that the report contains legally privileged information.

Let (another) cover up commence !….