Leader: We need clear and decisive action now

Cameron House. Picture: TSPL

Cameron House. Picture: TSPL

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ANYONE who has been following recent events surrounding Cameron House community centre will be completely bewildered and deeply concerned.

The allegations of dirty tricks being employed by council officials are simply not the kind of thing you expect to hear about in Scotland in 2015. In fact, the complaints read like a script from Our Friends in the North, the TV drama starring Daniel Craig which told the story of local government corruption in the north of England in the 1970s, events now known as the Poulson Affair.

Doctored emails, covert visits by council employees, personnel files being tampered and vanishing into thin air and an official investigation so limited that the original whistleblower who raised concerns of fraud was never even interviewed. Then there is the suggestion that someone bombarded an innocent member of staff with online pornography in a deliberate attempt to intimdate them into silence.

Some of these events would be darkly comical if they were not so serious. Other claims are downright sinister. All in all, these are extremely serious allegations which merit the most thorough of investigations.

However, it is clear that at least in part the official inquiries to date have been somewhat less than thorough.

This whole sorry saga is once again threatening to drag the city’s name through the mud. The tram construction debacle and the statutory repairs scandal seriously damaged the council’s reputation, and it has been slowly, but steadily rebuilding public trust ever since. The last thing the local authority needs is another running sore like this.

Anyone who has regular dealings with the city council will have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of its staff are good and honest people.

But doubts remain about whether the actions of a few have brought the council into disrepute once again.

What is needed now is clear and decisive action. The council has always said it would reopen its investigation into allegations of fraud at one of its arms-length companies, the Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership, if any new evidence came to light. Now it turns out that whistleblower John Travers was never questioned during the 2006 probe. He should be now.

Just as importantly, the allegations of dirty tricks connected to Cameron House and the treatment of Mr Travers and his allies must be independently examined to make sure that we get to the truth.

Justice not only must be done, but also has to be seen to be done to protect the city’s good name.