Edinburgh Council lawyers tell whistleblower to ‘walk away’ from 17-year legal fight

John Travers. Pic: Gareth Easton
John Travers. Pic: Gareth Easton
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COUNCIL lawyers wrote to a whistleblower telling him to “walk away” from his 17-year fight for justice or risk facing a hefty legal bill.

John Travers is understood to have received the letter this month warning he will be pursued for expenses if he persists with his case.

The community education worker is locked in a dispute for compensation from city chiefs after he was bullied for going public with concerns £400,000 of public money was misspent.

Councillor for Southside/Newington and former Tory group leader Cameron Rose slammed the threatening tone of the letter.

“If this is indeed the case then I’m appalled that the council would treat an employee in this way bearing in mind the background over many years,” said Cllr Rose.

“Whether this is normal legal procedure or not, it’s not the way the council should be treating its employees.”

Mr Travers and others close to him were the victims of a ten-year campaign of intimidation after he made the claims.

This included tampering with personnel records, hate mail, a barrage of “weaponised” pornography being sent to Mr Travers and his associates and anonymous online abuse.

Mr Travers’ allegations related to Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership (ELLP) and work carried out on City Connect, its IT and social inclusion project.

In late 2002, he sent a series of anonymous e-mails around the council, including to then city leader Donald Anderson, alleging mismanagement in ELLP and City Connect.

Raising the allegations led to a disciplinary hearing against Mr Travers, but he later won £5,000 compensation after an employment tribunal ruled that the council had failed in its duty to protect him.

It said there had been “sufficient straws in the wind” to lead Mr Travers to believe “that all was not as it should be”.

The ELLP case has also been linked to a botched building project at Cameron House Community Centre.

The Prestonfield hub became mired in allegations of doctored emails, missing documents and the wasting of more than £146,000 of public money.

City chiefs drafted in a team of specialist investigators from accountancy giant PWC to examine the claims in 2016.

Their report vindicated the actions taken by Mr Travers and is understood to have concluded both he and his associates were harassed – but was unable to establish those responsible.

It also tracked vile hardcore pornographic images back to a council via an IP address but no individual has ever been identified as responsible.

As a result of their findings, the city council’s chief executive issued a full apology to Mr Travers for the “completely unacceptable” way he was treated.

Police were also called in and a spokesman confirmed this week that “inquiries are still ongoing.”

While the PWC investigators did not find evidence of fraud, they also did not rule it out.

And yet the PWC report has never been made public in full - prompting lawyers acting on behalf of Mr Travers to issue a writ on the council.

The Evening News told in December how Mr Travers is taking city chiefs to court to force them to release the hushed-up report into fraud allegations and dirty tricks.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “The Council does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”