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Posted by: John Brace | December 28, 2012

Richard Penn clears Dave Green following whistleblower’s allegations surrounding the Highways and Engineering Services Contract award to Colas


Yesterday I read the thirty-nine page report of Richard Penn about Dave Green and the reasons behind his suspension.

For anyone reading it, it doesn’t make much sense without reading the background documents first, so below is a list of two of the background documents I could find online and a link to the minutes of a meeting from 2010 at which one of the reports was discussed.

Highways and engineering services contract Award and Management (Report in the Public Interest) (Audit Commission) 8/6/12

Procurement follow up of Public Interest Disclosure Act disclosure (Audit Commission) 16/9/2010 and the minutes of the Audit and Risk Management Committee of 28th September 2010 that discussed it

The rest of the documents such as the Council’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Conflict of Interest Policy Procedure don’t seem to be on Wirral Council’s website although I did find the Equality Impact Assessment for the Conflict of Interest Policy which refers to the M15 Conflict of Interest Declaration Form and the annual Key Issues Exchange.

The Equality Impact Assessment from the 8th February 2008 states “following Audit advice employees are continually reminded of their obligations to declare any conflict of interest” which raises the point as to whether this was actually happening in practice.

When Dave Green realised there was a conflict of interest on 20th October 2008 if as an employee he was being “continually reminded of his obligations”, he would have stated this conflict of interest using the M15 form, rather than as stated in the report he “immediately sought advice from Simon Goacher regarding the potential for conflicts of interests” (which delayed the M15 form being submitted for three weeks which meant it was after the whistleblowers made their allegations about him).

Moving to the part of the report that states “Dave Green also commented on what he described as the inaccurate reporting of facts in the local press. The Council has done nothing to correct the incorrect reporting largely generated by the Council publishing and considering the wrong report at the July Council meeting.” and “Dave Green considered that it was absolutely unreasonable for the Council to allow such inaccurate reporting to continue and demonstrated a poor ‘duty of care’ to him as one of its employee.”

Certainly there was something in the Council’s press release in response to the Audit Commission report entitled “Council response to District Auditor’s report” dated 8th June 2012 that someone took exception to it as it’s been removed from Wirral Council’s website and was the press release that this Wirral Globe story was based on.

The part of the Council meeting referring to Dave Green’s suspension was unusually held in private without the press and public present see here, although the public interest report was discussed in public, it seems the Audit Commission report on Wirral Council’s website was replaced with a different version a week after the meeting was held.

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Responses

  1. John, thanks for this. Do you know if it’s true that the council intervened and prevented ‘independent’ investigator Richard Penn from interviewing the group of HESPE whistleblowers – which I assume would be part of his role in the interests of a fair and balanced investigation? Or did Penn himself decide not to?

    It’s a very unwholesome and crude ‘cherry picking’ tactic I’ve seen from my own experience as a complainant. This is an allegation I’ve heard a few times that needs clearing up. Also, the council have declared investigations ‘independent’ in the past when they seem to be no such thing, e.g.:

    http://easyvirtualassistance.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/wirral-councils-unlawful-implementation-of-a-4-week-delay-on-social-care-packages/

    Like

  2. I can only answer those questions briefly, as I’m on my way out.

    Your first question is answered in 1.3, where he states he interviewed the whistleblowers. Had he not I doubt

    “iv. Dave Green’s alleged detrimental treatment of OSD staff prior to their TUPE transfer to COLAS (the winning contractor) in April 2009

    and

    v. Dave Green’s involvement in the preparation and finalisation of the OSD bid prior to its submission in September 2008 ”

    would’ve been added to Richard Penn’s investigation.

    As to whether he interviewed the entire group of whistleblowers or just some of them, is a question best put to Richard Penn, whose contact details (phone number and email address) are on this website.

    Like


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