Edinburgh repairs: Informant hails ‘end of tyranny’

Council has made public Deloitte's probe into scandal. Picture: Callum Bennetts
Council has made public Deloitte's probe into scandal. Picture: Callum Bennetts
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A KEY whistle-blower behind the property repair scandal has described the publication of damning reports into the saga as “tyranny coming to an end”.

The un-named informant, known only as Contractor X, spoke out as the investigation from accountancy giants Deloitte was made public.

They revealed “serious and wide-ranging management failure” at the heart of the property departments leaving the city with a £27 million debt.

Contractor X, who held three months of talks with Deloitte, said yesterday’s report fully laid bare an abuse of power.

He said: “I’m pleased they have now been made ­public as you can’t put a price on honesty. It was an abuse of power and that’s what it came down to. It’s like ­tyranny ­coming to an end at these departments.”

The man who helped expose the practices said the reports confirmed what the Evening News had already published. “I don’t think these reports would ever have taken place if people hadn’t shouted loud and long enough,” he added.

Auditors from Deloitte were called in two years ago to investigate allegations of fraud and mismanagement.

They found serious failings and a lack of accountability in how the department was run. The department’s head, Dave Anderson has since resigned.

The property repairs scheme saw the local authority sending in contractors to communal repairs ­without the consent of homeowners – who are billed for the work. Heavily redacted, the reports noted “significant increases” in costs from the initial contractor estimates while noting allegations of “inappropriate acceptance of gifts and hospitality; conflicts of interest [redacted]; and work carried out on officers’ private properties by contractors other than market value”. Since the scandal broke in 2011, 17 people – thought to be associates of contractors, ex-employees and associates of former employees – have faced criminal charges including fraud, corruption and money laundering.

Both reports were concluded by June 2012, but legal action and police investigations were blamed for delaying publication sparking claims that the scandal was being covered up. Cllr Steve Burgess, the city’s Green Group Convenor, said the late publication reflected “poorly” on the council.

“For those looking for endemic corruption, the report offers scant fare,” he said.

Cameron Rose, leader of Edinburgh Conservatives, said: “The delays in the publication of the reports, the slow response to resolving the outstanding complaints and the delays in recovering legitimate debts, continue to cost the Edinburgh taxpayer dear.”

Mark Turley, Director of Services for Communities, who was asked to lead the investigation said: “The fact we ­commissioned Deloitte to properly investigate this ­matter shows how seriously we took the concerns, although it’s worth remembering the police investigation found no evidence of criminality in the property ­conservation service.”