THE whistleblower who first highlighted issues within the property repairs department has been sacked along with a further three staff, the Evening News can reveal.
The group, from the property conservation and property care sections, were told to pack their bags earlier this week.
They include a council employee who allegedly blew the whistle on problems within the statutory notice department by handing his password to a contractor.
The contractor, known as Contractor X, was reported by the council to have accessed confidential information using this password to help lift the lid on corrupt activity within the property department.
The latest sackings bring the total up to 11, with a further six members of staff remaining suspended.
It is understood that a number of the sacked staff have taken their cases to appeal and a number are believed to be considering tribunal action.
One insider said it was a “bit rich” that a whistleblower had been sacked and suggested that a number of those suspended were “scapegoats for the real culprits”.
It is understood that the whistleblower was suspended back in October 2010 and remained suspended until his dismissal earlier this week.
The source said: “There were a couple of whistleblowers who wanted to do the right thing and now one of them has been sacked. That seems a bit rich, especially as the council has its own whistleblowing policy for things like this. Another person who acted as a whistleblower remains suspended. A number of the suspended and sacked are acting as scapegoats for other staff, who are the real culprits.”
A number of people have been sacked or suspended since serious issues in four arms of the property department came to light in October 2010, including property conservation, property care, building standards and asset management.
Council employees suspended include the director of city development, Dave Anderson, the acting head of service, Janis Dunn, and the original head of service, Brian Sibbald, who has since retired.
A £1.5 million Deloitte report and a police investigation into the property conservation department led to a further investigation of property care, which deals with council buildings such as community centres, libraries and public toilets.
Five associates of companies used by property care, including KM Contracts, Corstorphine Roofing, Action Building Contracts, J Walker Painting & Decorating and Euro Environmental Contracts Ltd, have been charged with offences including fraud, money laundering and corruption.
A further four ex-employees and six associates of these ex-employees have also been charged with corruption and fraud.
It is understood that the remaining suspensions will be looked at in forthcoming weeks.
A council spokesman said: “Since these extremely serious allegations about property services were made the council has taken firm and decisive action. Eleven staff have been dismissed and a number of others suspended while this complex inquiry is carried out. All staff are treated equally and where there is evidence we have taken robust action.”
Policy aims to protect
THE council policy on whistleblowing was established to allow staff to raise concerns about management without putting themselves in a vulnerable position.
The policy states the responsibilities and duties of staff and managers to report concerns and act on concerns brought to their attention. It also allows for concerns to be raised outwith the internal management of the unit.
Whistleblowing has long been a way of exposing unfair or illegal practices. One famous UK example was the worker at Haringey Council who wrote to the government six months before the death of Baby P warning of concerns about the area’s child protection services.