AN investigation into allegations of fraud at an arms-length council company is to be reopened more than a decade after the original inquiry.
But the council was not able to say whether the new probe would also look at alleged “dirty tricks” linked to the case.
This new investigation will be swift and decisive, with a clear focus on establishing the facts.”
The move comes after the News revealed on Monday that a whistleblower who claimed in 2002 that nearly £400,000 had been mis-spent at the Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership (ELLP) was never interviewed about the allegations.
We also revealed that files believed to contain details of a disciplinary process launched against the whistleblower had gone missing, raising fears that any attempt to re-examine the claims could be hampered.
The council said the new “swift and decisive” investigation would establish the facts of the 2002 claims.
The move follows a call by Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie for the investigation to be re-opened.
The council also said it had received fresh information within the last 24 hours.
The allegations relate to ELLP and work carried out in Cityconnect, its IT and social inclusion project.
The original council investigation concluded there was no evidence that funds had been misappropriated.
It is understood the new investigation will be conducted by the council’s monitoring officer, Alastair Maclean, and it is expected the whistleblower will now be interviewed.
The council said the latest investigation “may” also look at alleged “dirty tricks” against allies of the whistleblower who are based at Cameron House community centre in Prestonfield.
It is claimed they have suffered intimidation, including being bombarded with online pornography, in an effort to keep them silent.
A report by auditors PwC linked the whistleblower’s treatment to earlier “dirty tricks” at Cameron House, where complaints about a botched building project were allegedly not dealt with, e-mails were doctored and a council employee posed as a member of the public to gain access to the centre.
The council said the property issues and the related allegations had already been investigated and reported to councillors and would not form part of the new inquiry.
Last week, Moira O’Neill, chairwoman of the Cameron House management committee, raised concerns about the report, which was considered by councillors in private.
Ms O’Neill said it had been “impossible” for the committee to reassure themselves that their concerns had been documented fully and conveyed accurately, due to the council’s decision to keep the report secret.
The Cameron House committee asked to see the sections of the report which detailed their evidence, but were refused permission.
The council said last week that Gillian Tee, director of communities and families, would apologise for “past mistakes” – but refused to detail what these mistakes were,
Yesterday a council spokesman said: “The council’s monitoring officer was asked by the governance, risk and best value committee to commission a report regarding property issues at Cameron House which has been completed and discussed by committee.
“We said last week that the monitoring officer was considering what further investigations may be appropriate and, in light of new evidence obtained in the past 24 hours, it has been decided to reopen an investigation into historical whistleblowing allegations.
“This new investigation will be swift and decisive, with a clear focus on establishing the facts.
“The council takes all allegations of wrongdoing very seriously and will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”