Appeal for current and former staff to come forward as inquiry into Edinburgh council's culture gets under way

Current and former city council employees are being urged to come forward as an independent inquiry gets under way into whistleblowing and the organisational culture at the authority.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 26th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 2:59 pm

The inquiry, being led by experienced QC Susanne Tanner, is looking into the the council's handling of complaints against social work manager Sean Bell. who was found dead at Salisbury Crags while awaiting trial for sexual assault, and wider council culture.

The terms of reference – setting out the inquiry’s scope and objectives – have been finalised by Ms Tanner in consultation with the political group leaders and have now been published.

They include to determine whether or not a positive, open, safe and supportive whistleblowing and organisational culture for raising concerns of wrongdoing exists within the council; whether the whistleblowing arrangements are effective; whether council members, staff or former staff feel empowered to raise concerns or if barriers exist; whether reports of wrongdoing are properly investigated; and whether avoidance of reputational damage or legal liability is a contributory factor in any failure by the council to address concerns of wrongdoing.

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Susanne Tanner QC was appointed last month to chair the inquiry

Ms Tanner is being assisted by a UK investigation team from indpendent law firm Pinsent Masons, who are currently gathering evidence and are keen to hear from anyone, including council employees past and present, who may have information which will help the inquiry.

Council leader Adam McVey said: "The terms of reference are very clear and thorough, setting out exactly what we want to achieve through this inquiry. Our collective aim is to ensure our outstanding staff have the confidence they need to raise issues in the knowledge they’ll be properly considered and acted upon."

Depute leader Cammy Day said cross-party support for the inquiry’s objectives meant the investigation team could start to gather the evidence they require.

“Hearing from both current and former employees on any concerns they may have is vital so I would urge anyone who wants to share information to come forward – everyone’s voices will be heard."

The inquiry team can be contacted by email at [email protected] up to December 20 or by calling Tom Stocker from the Pinsent Masons team (during office hours) on 07912 396 242.

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