After Alison Dickie is vindicated over abuse concern, will SNP leader Adam McVey demand an apology from Cammy Day for 'Miss Marple' jibe? – Steve Cardownie

Early last month SNP councillor Alison Dickie, Edinburgh’s vice-convener for education and a registered teacher, penned an article for this newspaper in which she stated that she had been warned against pursuing a whistleblower’s concerns about bullying and failures in child protection within the City of Edinburgh Council.

By Steve Cardownie
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 4:55 am
Councillor Alison Dickie's concerns do not appear to have been far off the mark
Councillor Alison Dickie's concerns do not appear to have been far off the mark

Referring to the time she first took up her position as a councillor, she said: “Maybe I was naïve, but I did not expect to be representing constituents and people caught up in the darkest of issues like child protection concerns and allegations of corruption and collusive networks.”

Giving an “appalling insight” into the allegations, she wrote of “abuse, accessing personal information, bullying and harassment, children kept in care without assessment, collusive networks, corruption, cover-ups, doctored reports, failure to follow child protection procedures, HR discrepancies, missing records and lost evidence, misogyny, old boys’ culture, smearing, surveillance, victimisation of whistle-blowers and those raising concerns, withholding information from children’s hearings, and more."

A more harrowing list of alleged wrongdoings would be almost impossible to compile.

This, as expected, did not go down to well in some quarters in the City Chambers and instead of Alison being congratulated for bringing these accusations into the open she was vilified and openly criticised at a full council meeting by deputy leader, Labour councillor Cammy Day who labelled her as a “Miss Marple” because of her determination to check if the allegations were true or not.

This attack on a fellow group member did not provoke a response in her defence by SNP leader Adam McVey, prompting fellow columnist and Conservative councillor John McLellan to write that “bad enough though it was, the reaction of her own party leader was even worse. Twice Councillor McVey had the opportunity to defend her and twice he left her to swing”.

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Edinburgh's depute council leader slated after 'Miss Marple' jibe at councillor ...

Now QC Susanne Tanner’s report into the handling of numerous allegations against former official Sean Bell is to be presented to a full council meeting tomorrow. Finding that these were not properly investigated by two senior officials in particular, it makes a series of recommendations including a reform of the council’s system of investigation into sexual allegations, domestic abuse, physical violence, stalking or harassment.

It also calls for mandatory training for all managers on domestic abuse, coercive control and dealing with individuals making complaints of a potentially criminal nature. So, while a more general report into council cultures is awaited, it looks like Councillor Dickie was not far off the mark, making her condemnation at the hands of some, all the more reprehensible.

In a further twist, a question has been tabled for tomorrow’s meeting inviting Councillor McVey to “distance himself” from Councillor Day’s “disparaging remarks” and asks: “Is the leader aware of the depute leader making a full unreserved apology for this public outburst? If so, can the leader share this apology? If not, will the leader use this question as an opportunity to condemn the lack of an apology?” The answers should prove interesting!

In the meantime, it would appear that Councillor McVey is carrying on regardless as he has nominated Councillor Eleanor Bird for a Local Government Information Unit annual award as a “champion for education” thereby delivering a further snub to Councillor Dickie who is vice-convener of the education committee.

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