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Posted by: John Brace | 4th October 2013

BIG/ISUS Reports: Wirral Council and Merseyside Police in “Alice in Wonderland”

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

BIG/ISUS Reports: Wirral Council and Merseyside Police in “Alice in Wonderland”

                                

Last month I got a response from Wirral Council over my Freedom of Information Act request for Grant Thornton’s report into Wirral Council’s ISUS (Intensive Start Up Support) program. You can view Wirral Council’s rather wordy response saying no on the whatdotheyknow website. Here is a brief quote from their refusal:

“Wirral Council can confirm it is not possible, at this moment in time, to make available copies of the report into ISUS that was produced by Grant Thornton following their investigations, either in full or in a redacted format, as the report, which has been reported previously, has been handed over to the Police for their consideration, in accordance with the recommendations contained within the report.

As such any disclosures either in full or in part are not appropriate at this time, until the Police have concluded their enquiries or determined that no further action should be taken, for fear of compromising further actions that may result as a consequence of that report.”

So I emailed the Chief Constable on the day I got that refusal (23rd September) asking the following questions about their investigation, a copy of my questions are below. I even pointed out that I’d publish the responses.

1) Have Merseyside Police concluded their inquiries into the issues raised in the BIG & ISUS reports referred to them by Wirral Council?
2) Has anyone been charged in relation to this?
3) Who is conducting (or if it has concluded conducted) the investigation and what are their contact details?
4) If the investigation is ongoing when is it likely to reach a conclusion?

This is the response I got today (4th October 2013) by email:

Dear Mr Brace,

I have looked into the matters that you have raised but I’m afraid that there is not a lot I am able to tell you.

This matter is currently in the hands of Wirral Borough Council and any requests for information you have should be directed to them, perhaps by way of a Fredom[sic] of Information enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Thompson
Detective Chief Inspector
Staff Officer to the Chief Constable
Merseyside Police

So, just to summarise Wirral Council won’t say anything because it’s in the hands of Merseyside Police, but Merseyside Police say it’s “currently in the hands of Wirral Borough Council”… you couldn’t make it up if you tried could you? So any constructive suggestions as to where to go with this next?

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Responses

  1. I could begin by removing the anonymity of the 6 companies in the BIG executive Summary.

    There is, to tease, a strong relationship of one , the one definitively excluded from eligibility in any circumstance by Grant Thornton, with the new Set-up , Wirral business Partnership, including the familiar faces from the BIG fund scandal.

    • To be honest with you, with Wirral Council adamant that the BIG/ISUS reports should never be revealed to the public it’s probably the only way the public will get to know who BIG1 to BIG6 are!

  2. The purpose of whistleblowing is not to wait 2.5 years for remedial action which does not come. In that eventuality I must reconsider the public interest and leap-frog over those authorities that have done nothing. It appears to me this inaction is motivated by the private interests of those in the position to do something.

    • This is why a lot of people blow the whistle to the media, in the hope that being embarrassed will finally cause an organisation to change.

  3. Cllr Stuart Kelly comments as follows:

    https://twitter.com/cllrskelly/status/386144372779008000

  4. I have consistently had FOI requests turned down by the Police. They seem to be in league with WBC.

  5. Cllr Kelly intervention on behalf of impartiality and reason is most welcome. WBC cannot for much longer expect me to sit on my hands whilst the very same people intimately involved in Asset transfer errors; BIG fund errors; ISUS and working Neighbourhood errors continue to build empires in the Re-Generation Game unsullied by their previous gross errors.

  6. WBC take the borough’s poor to court for non-payment of council tax and now I demand we take officers to task for non-payment for their sins. Not one person has been dismissed in this fiasco ; not one person taken to court to repay money obtained by deception.why…perhaps reputations of individuals rank more highly than hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money

    • Reputations do count, but it’s supposed to be councillors (on the public’s behalf) that hold the officers to account. The media can only do so much to highlight what goes on.

  7. I was told by my Designated Officer, yes I still have to have one two years after first blowing the whistle direct to Counter Fraud , that all rests with Department of Local Government and Communities and their investigation which, by joined-up government will coalesce with WBC investigation and the Grant thornton investigation, to create a SUPRA-investigation and conclusion. All of this 2.5 years after first discovery of the BIG fund cock-ups, and 3.5 years after A4e first uncovered irregularities in ISUS.

    Fast work eh? You would scarcely believe that the data given was of a quality commensurable with the experience and training of a former Tax Inspector and a Chartered Accountant. If we cannot convince with financial data what chance has the common garden whistleblower with no qualifications? And how in heavens could Counter Fraud dismiss our data on grounds we were just disaffected employees! In fact hook ,line and sinker Counter fraud adopted the line that the Chartered Accountant was a violent and unstable character. I have seen this in the Timmins report that the Council is now claiming does not exist, never existed and could never be found as “Mr Timmins has now left the authority”.

  8. […] asked Merseyside Police some questions in September about their investigation in September. The reply I got from a Detective Chief Inspector Gareth […]


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