John Swinney facing questions over Cameron House scandal cash

Jim Eadie has eight questions for John Swinney.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Jim Eadie has eight questions for John Swinney. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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FINANCE secretary John Swinney is being asked to give assurances over public money handed to the charity at the centre of the allegations which sparked the Cameron House scandal.

Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie has written to Mr Swinney over claims of fraud dating back more than a decade at Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership (ELLP), an arms-length council company.

Whistleblower John Travers was threatened with disciplinary action and allies of his based at Cameron House community centre were harassed and targeted with pornography after he alleged nearly £400,000 had been misspent by ELLP.

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The Evening News revealed earlier this week that a team from Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PwC) were called in by council chiefs to investigate the accusations, dating from 2002, which relate to ELLP and work carried out in Cityconnect, its IT and social inclusion project.

Now Mr Eadie has asked the finance secretary for assurances that the money has been accounted for and used for the purpose for which it was intended. He sent Mr Swinney a set of questions, including what checks and evaluation had been carried out by the government, when it knew about the allegations and what it can do to try to recover the money.

Mr Eadie said: “I’m trying to shed a light on matters that go back to 2002 but which have yet to be fully justified and accounted for in relation to the operation of this charity and the specific allegation of the misuse of £400,000 of public funds, which is now the subject of a PwC investigation ordered by the council.

“These are matters of huge public interest and concern. Given the seriousness of the allegation and the significant amount of public funds which appear to be unaccounted for 13 years after they were first allocated, I have taken the unusual step of writing to the finance secretary, posing eight questions which now need to be answered.”

The Evening News revealed last year that Mr Travers was never interviewed about the allegations during the original investigation, which concluded there was no evidence that funds had been misappropriated.

And just this week, former city council leader Donald Anderson claimed that rather than commending him for raising important concerns to protect taxpayers’ money, officials “hunted down” Mr Travers “like a wild animal”.

Mr Travers’ associates at Cameron House were allegedly subjected to subterfuge, including faked e-mails, porn sent from a council computer and a council surveyor posing as a member of the public to gain covert access to the building and discredit management claims that the floor needed to be replaced.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com