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A Really Rotten Borough
latest update 12 February 2010

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Email trail:- Martin Morton / Gerry Flanagan

This email has been made available to the site by Martin Morton

From: Flanagan, Gerry P.
Sent: Fri 25/01/2008 17:40
To: Morton, Anthony M.
Cc: Ryan, Thomas; Noone, Maura C.; Webb, John H.; Coleman, Ian E.; Bradshaw, Paul
Subject: RE: Re Severance


Thank you for your e-mail

I am available on Monday morning at 9.30 to discuss your work plan.

I will seek advice from HR on the other issues you raise

Gerry Flanagan
Joint Commissioning Manager for Learning Disabilities
Wirral Council
Department of Adult Social Services and Wirral Primary Care Trust
Tel: 0151 666 4780
Fax: 0151 666 4747


From: Morton, Anthony M.
Sent: 25 January 2008 17:04
To: Flanagan, Gerry P.
Cc: Ryan, Thomas; Noone, Maura C.; Webb, John H.; Coleman, Ian E.; Bradshaw, Paul
Subject: RE: Re Severance


As ever this is far from a resolution.

As my line manager have you any idea what I have been doing the entire week?.Typing a set of minutes, a 1 page report and putting leaflets into folders for the Valuing People Now event next week (the latter under the supervision of an admittedly very able Scale 3 Team Support Officer).

As each and every day has passed I have found myself getting more and more distressed by the covert and overt "mobbing" that I am having to endure as a whistleblower.

I have included the Officers identified in the final line of your email as these people seem to be responsible for making the decisions about my severance.I need to impress upon you that I do not want my life to be left languishing in somebody's in-tray for months on end.My position has moved from the untenable to the unbearable......

The derisory sum of money being offered is compensation for the detriment already incurred.A gagging clause in the guise of a "compromise agreement" is a new detriment and will thus have to be compensated separately and in addition.

The sum offered does not reflect the scale of wrongdoing the Council is trying to hide.I believe that there are matters concerning waste of public money,failure to protect vulnerable people from abuse ,charging policies (!) and bullying that are of interest to the Audit Commission,CSCI,Ombudsman,Standards Board For England (and assuming that Mr.Bradshaw and Mr.Ryan are members,CIPD).How is it then deemed appropriate that I lose my entire career (22 years in social care/education),my livelihood,my health and potentially my home because I have brought matters to the Council's attention that have sought to suppress ...and suppress ruthlessly.

My treatment as an employee and as a person has been a complete violation,therefore to prevent a worsening of my physical and mental health and an avoidance of legal proceedings I am insisting that this matter is finally resolved to my satisfaction by February 1st 2008.



From: Flanagan, Gerry P.
Sent: Mon 21/01/2008 15:37
To: Morton, Anthony M.
Cc: Ryan, Thomas; Noone, Maura C.
Subject: Re Severance


You indicated to me this morning that you wanted a resolution to the situation by today. Whilst I would have preferred to discuss this with you face to face, you have just indicated to me that you wanted me to respond by e-mail rather than in a discussion.

The response I have had from HR is that your severance pay would be £23641.00 approx.; any offer would be linked to a compromise agreement.

I am further informed that such severance would be subject to approval by the Director, the Director of Finance and Head of Corporate HR.

Gerry Flanagan
Joint Commissioning Manager for Learning Disabilities
Wirral Council
Department of Adult Social Services and Wirral Primary Care Trust
Tel: 0151 666 4780
Fax: 0151 666 4747

© Reproduced by kind permission of Martin Morton

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Cost of investigation and disciplinary process re senior council officers

M Smith has responded to Wirral Council
Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for your reply.

I would be grateful if you would kindly ascertain whether or not this independent investigation was carried out by Mr Vic Hewitt.
Also, could you kindly obtain confirmation that he was appointed in late November or early December 2008.

I am reliably informed that the Director of Law may be able to help you with this inquiry as he may have inforrmation which has not been made available to you

I await the result of your enquiries into Mr Morton's solicitor's fees with interest.

Yours sincerely,

© copyright . Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

Cost of investigation and disciplinary process re senior council officers

Wirral Council has responded to M Smith's FOI request as follows:

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your email below. I will take each point you have raised in turn and hope you find the information of use.

You would have to contact North West Employers regarding whether they subcontracted any work to Vic Hewitt Consulting Ltd. The requests we receive under FOI relate to any recorded information we hold as a Public Body and the recorded invoices we hold are for North West Employers.

Additionally, we do not have estimates recorded of the working hours of our Solicitors against individual casework.

Your final point is noted, regarding Mr Morton stating that his solicitor's fees were paid by the Council and I will make enquiries in relation to this and get back to you on this point.

Kind Regards

© copyright Wirral Council. Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Email from Natasha Eubank to Cllr Paula Southwood

The following email has been made available to this site by Natasha Eubank.

-----Original Message-----
From: natashaeubank@xxxxxxxx
Sent: Mon, Oct 12, 2009 9:01 am
Subject: ARMC 'Special Meeting' 23rd September Minutes

Councillor Southwood,

Having just read the minutes of the special ARMC meeting of the 23rd September, I felt compelled to write to you.

I was in attendance at this meeting, or at least I thought I was. Judging by the contents of the minutes I must have been in some form of temporary fugue state. As the contents of those minutes bear no resemblance on any level, to my recollection of the evenings proceedings.

I have no doubt that you have already been contacted by those who also feel strongly about this matter, highlighting the stark omissions of said minutes. (In much the same way that I have no doubt that Mr. Delaps work received the most personal attention, much more so than normal, of Mr. Norman) I will therefore not reiterate the discrepancies.

My comments are of a more empirical nature.

I find it incomprehensible that, even now, a number of Chief Officers and Councillors, you included, are persisting in compounding the already-catastrophic damage that this situation has wrought. It is precisely this high-handedness and arrogance which has led to this most heinous of situations.

The majority of Councillors have shown nothing but contempt, in their treatment of us. The cover-up; the lifting of the suspension of Noone and Fowler; the disgraceful IA report, the dubious commissioning of the independent investigation, the complete inability to take any decisive restorative action, the positively supernatural convenience of the appearance of the 1997 Committee report.

And now, now we get minutes, minutes that have been sanitised to such an extent that Herr Josef Goebbels (Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich, in case the reference was missed) would glow with pride.

For every second that passes in which the Councillors take no decisive, objective and final action over this matter (and that includes, but is necessarily limited to; the dismissal of Maura Noone and Mike Fowler and the reimbursement, in an appropriate form, of the monies taken from the most vulnerable amongst us, backdated to 1997) you make a mockery of the trust we have put in you as elected members.

For every minute that elapses where you fail to act, you prove that, as a body of people, you are more willing to smother and stifle an unpleasant and embarrassing truth, rather than put it right.

It’s all too easy, isn’t it? It’s all too easy when the victims of this overcharging are simply represented as quantities in committee briefings. If you can’t put a face to a name, then it doesn’t matter, does it?

And to think, these are the most vulnerable, the most socially excluded amongst us.

You sicken me.

And then, then the Whistleblower.

Permit me to be presumptuous. By reinstating Mrs. Noone and Mr. Fowler you are, in effect, demonstrating your support for two individuals who, and let us call a spade a spade, were more willing to persecute an employee, rather than admit that they are responsible for committing, what is effectively, institutional financial abuse against people with learning disabilities.

If that does not appeal to your moral values, then let me appeal to your ego.

They, by intending to get approval of a policy during the ‘political downtime’ (taken from the email transcripts on clearly do not regard you as anything more than ‘head-nodders’. People who do not have the ability or intelligence to understand what is written down in front of them.

Perhaps that might elicit a more significant response?

Either way, these two people, who have inflicted the most despicable damage on, people with learning disabilities, a man whose only goals was to stop the financial abuse of said people and the reputation of Wirral Council, are people you have shown you allegiance to.

Perhaps understandingly, I question your character judging abilities.

I have neglected to mention Mr. Webb’s complicity in the actions of Noone and Fowler. Whilst I appreciate that Mr. Webb was not in post as Director until comparatively recently, he has also shown himself to consider that the cover-up of financial abuse by his senior officers and the persecution of an duty-bound employee are more palatable actions than telling the truth is.

And these are the people who have been charged with the responsibility of looking after Wirrals most vulnerable people.

Inspiring, isn’t it?

Mr. Norman did not consider that a police investigation into the actions of DASS, in this instance was appropriate. He took, what seemed to be about 2 nanoseconds, before providing us with his considered response. This was accepted by you wholesale, in an equally embarrassingly short span of time.

Let me draw you to the CPS guidelines for quantifying the act of misconduct in a public office.

The elements of misconduct in public office are:

a) A public officer acting as such.

b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.

c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.

d) Without reasonable excuse or justification.

John Webb, Maura Noone and Mike Fowler have abused the public trust.

For that matter, you also have abused the public’s trust.

Put this right.

Put this right, otherwise it will be this that defines your political career. Nothing else. No good that you might have done, or will do, for the residents of Wirral will be remembered. It will be this. And only this.

Put this right.

And don’t even get me started about a particular external supported-living provider.

You’re in for a busy time.

Natasha Eubank

© Reproduced with kind permission of Natasha Eubank.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Special Audit & Risk Management Committee meeting-FOLLOW-UP

The follow-up meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee is currently scheduled for 3 November 2009, when results of further investigations into the Special Charging Policy will be discussed.

It will also be an opportunity for the amendment of the minutes of the meeting held on 23 September 2009.

This date is not yet confirmed on the Council's website.



Friday, 9 October 2009

Email from The Loose Cannon to ARMC members

The following email has been made available to this site by 'The Loose Cannon':

----- Original Message -----
From: The Loose Cannon
To: Southwood, Paula M. (Councillor)
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 3:38 PM
Subject: Draft minutes ARMC.

Dear Paula,

Minutes are the official, written record of a meeting, but having read the lastest draft minutes of the ARMC we cannot believe it was the meeting we attended. We are appalled that Bill Norman and Mark Delap are treating members of the public with such open contempt.

Instead of a record of the proceedings they have offered a public relations document that simply paraphrases the (erroneous) findings of the internal audit report.

How deceitful, when someone has been allowed to address the committee, to then ignore every single point made by them. It smacks of Stalinist Russia rather than the Wirral we know.

Why no mention of the allegations of hardship suffered by at least one tenant, solely due to the unlawful special charging policy - a man with learning disabilities who had to go to the Welfare Fund for money for clothes?

Why no mention of the fifteen reasons Martin Morton gave for the special charging policy being unfair - something the Department of Health clearly believed, hence the Fairer Charging Policy - yet Bill Norman's 'opinon' is allowed to prevail?

Why no mention of Martin's allegation that, contrary to the report, the residents at the three properties were NOT assessed, and that they were charged according to their means and not according to their needs, which is unlawful.

Why no mention that Martin alleged it was untrue to claim the special charging policy was intended to be applied elsewhere?

Why no mention that the members of the public present, as well as the Conservative councillors, clearly did not believe the explanations about the document 'found in DASS' and made their feelings known?

Why no mention of Cllr Mountney's question about financial abuse at Balls Road?

Why no mention that Martin refuted the claim he had not mentioned Balls Road in his Grievance/Whistleblowing documents? Or the excerpt he read from them?

Why no mention that Martin quoted an email from his Grievance/Whistleblowing documents, as did Cllr Mountney, which clearly shows that two Assistant Directors of DASS, Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, were aware the special charging policy was unfair in February 2000? You must surely have known it was the email which Cllr Mountney gave to Bill Norman last year, prompting their suspension. If you weren't, how duplicitous of Bill Norman not to confirm its authenticity to you. In fact, how duplicitous of him not to confirm its authenticity to the Committee.

Why no mention of Martin's allegations of bullying?

Below "It was further moved by Councillor Mountney and seconded by Councillor Fraser that ..." the minutes read:
(a) Implement the principle of reimbursement of service users at Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road Moreton, between 1997 and 2003 in so far as the sums actually paid by an individual service user exceeded what they might reasonably have been required to pay had the principles contained in Fairer Charging been applied throughout that period ...

Although this may be what the Council would prefer, it is not correct. Cllr Mountney called for the reimbursement of all monies paid by service users at the three properties in so far as the sums actually paid by them exceeded what other service users in the borough were paying at the time, which was nothing.

Finally, why no mention that you refused the offer made by the Audit Commission to investigate 1997-2003?
You have had first-hand experience of the duplicity of Lester Roughley; you know he lied to committee regarding the information I had given him; you are aware that a file containing all the special charging policy documents was handed to him in DASS, prior to the April meeting, which subsequently appears to have mysteriously vanished, yet you made the decision to put the investigation back in his hands. In our opinion it is not the chairman's place to make unilateral decisions, and you certainly did not gain the confidence of the public present.

While on the subject of your handling of the meeting, we felt you were not objective, as any chairman should be, but far too biased towards your own party line. We were very disappointed that you put your political allegiance above humanity and inconvenient truths.


© Reproduced with kind permission of The Loose Cannon.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

to all who attended the Special Audit & Risk Management meeting

The draft minutes of the ARMC have been published today. They can be found HERE.

Martin Morton's contribution to the meeting is summed up in one paragraph:
With the agreement of the Chair, Mr Morton addressed the Committee. He expressed concern in relation to some of the findings of the audit, in particular that the policy approved in 1997 was reasonable and thus lawful. Mr Morton pointed out that it had been implemented without consultation.

And that's it!

If you were present on 23 September, and believe that the minutes are a travesty, please make your comments and feelings known to all of the following:

The Director of Law -
ARMC clerk Mark Delap -

The following Councillors were all present at the meeting and must be fully aware that the minutes are not a true reflection of the meeting:

Cllr Ann Bridson -
Cllr Jim Crabtree -
Cllr Leah Fraser -
Cllr Jeff Green -
Cllr Simon Holbrook -
Cllr Simon Mountney -
Jean Quinn -
Lesley Rennie -
Cllr Peter Reisdorf -
Cllr John Salter -
Cllr Paula Southwood -

District Auditor and Auditor for Wirral were also present

Mike Thomas -
Liz Temple-Murray -

The press who have been covering the story and/or were present:

Justin Dunn -
Craig Manning -
Lee Marles -
Liam Murphy -

For far too long Martin Morton has carried this fight single-handed. Now is the time for the people of Wirral to show he is not a lone voice in the wilderness.

The Council taxpayers of Wirral pay these people's wages. Make them work for you.

Write now and demand the minutes be amended. Demand an external inquiry, an independent external inquiry. Demand the police be called in.

© excerpts copyright Wirral Council. Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

Friday, 2 October 2009

A drop in the ocean

In June it was revealed that Wirral Council paid £20,000 in barrister's fees, for two days work, and the Council Taxpayers were incensed.

That sum is but a drop in the ocean when viewed alongside the costs surrounding the Whistleblower, DASS Special Charging Policy investigation and PIDA report.

Whistleblower's Compromise Agreement payment - £45,000

Whistleblower legal fees - £10,809.50
Wirral Council has been paying the Whistleblower's legal fees since the commencement of the disciplinary inquiry.

Independent investigation - £14,678.95
Yesterday Wirral Council revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request that the independent investigation into the "Employee A" and "Employee B" farce cost £14,678.95 (including VAT).

PIDA report - £15,250 and rising
The Audit Commission's PIDA (Public Interest Disclosure Act) report cost £15,250 in 2007/8, although the Audit & Governance Report which was presented to the Audit & Risk Management meeting on 23rd September reveals two things - extra costs incurred on the Whistleblower PIDA, and a second PIDA currently under investigation.
Audit Fees
8 My fee proposals were communicated to you in my Audit Plan for 2008/09. I issued a supplementary fee letter to the Director of Finance on 28 July indicating that the original fee was appropriate and no adjustment was required. However, the letter highlights that work on the PIDA concerning DASS has continued this year and we have received another PIDA in respect of a major contract. These issues were not anticipated when the fee was set in June 2008 and we have previously agreed that we will charge an additional fee when we complete the 2008/09 work.

These four items alone total £85,738.45 and there's more - much more - to come.



Thursday, 1 October 2009

Commissioning of independent investigation

A Freedom of Information request has been made by Natasha Eubank, as follows:
I would be grateful if you could provide me with the following information

Details of any primary legislation or other statutory instrument that Wirral Council must comply with, when commissioning independent investigations.

Wirral Councils own policy on the commissioning of independent investigations.

A link to the minutes of the relevant Council Meeting showing endorsement of this policy.

Details of the procurement / purchasing conditions that the Council must comply with, when commissioning an independent investigation.

In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS supported accommodation, the basis by which the independent investigators were selected.

The designations of the Council Officers responsible for selecting the independent investigators.

In reference to the investigation of over-charging in DASS supported accommodation, any briefings, background papers etc. (with appropriate deletions in order to comply with DPA) that were issued as part of the commissioning / procurement of the independent investigation. In particular any document which clairifies the remit and scope of the independent investigation.

I would be grateful if you could confirm acknowledgment of this FOIA Request

Thanking you in advance for your time

The request has been acknowledged by Wirral Council.



Misconduct in public office

The Crown Prosecution Service defines Misconduct in public office as follows:

The elements of misconduct in public office are:

a) A public officer acting as such.

b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.

c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.

d) Without reasonable excuse or justification

It continues, to define the Charging Practice:

Like perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office covers a wide range of conduct. It should always be remembered that it is a very serious, indictable only offence* carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest.

* an "indictable only offence" may only be tried in the Crown Court.

The day will come.


© copyright Crown Prosecution Service. Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting