Council officials ‘can’t remember’ actions in Cameron House case

Cameron House.  Picture: Scott Taylor
Cameron House. Picture: Scott Taylor
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COUNCIL officials at the centre of a scandal over a botched building project look set to escape disciplinary action because they told investigators they “couldn’t remember” what they had done.

A committee meeting behind closed doors will tomorrow discuss a report into events surrounding Cameron House community centre in Prestonfield, which was plagued by a catalogue of defects following its completion in 2009.

Council staff sent doctored emails to the management committee to cover up their exclusion from conversations, and even dispatched an official posing as a member of the public to assess the state of the centre’s sports hall after it was flooded.

The council later apologised for “significant failings” in relation to the property issues, but now an independent investigation by consultancy firm PWC is understood to have found staff could not recall details of what had happened.

The report – to be considered by the council’s Governance, Risk and Best Value committee tomorrow – is understood not to deal with alleged harassment of staff at Cameron House, including bombarding them with pornography, or a whistleblower’s claim of misuse of £400,000 of public money by the Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership (ELLP), which were also part of the PWC investigation.

Sources say these issues are likely to be covered in a separate report to be presented to the full council.

It is understood the committee tomorrow will be asked simply to “note” the report’s findings.

But Conservative councillor Jeremy Balfour, former convener of the best value committee, said: “There are a lot of questions still to be asked on this. This is not the end of the story.

“Depending on what is decided tomorrow, I believe there is still more information required and still points to be clarified.”

Cllr Balfour said he had been present when council deputy chief executive Alastair Maclean and communities and families director Gillian Tee – both of whom have since left the council – gave an apology to the Cameron House management committee last year.

He said: “I was at the meeting when the apology was given and Alastair Maclean gave a very clear apology on behalf of the council. There was a clear implication that the council had got things wrong.”

And Cllr Balfour said he hoped the PWC findings on the whistleblower’s original claims and the harassment allegations would be reported to councillors as soon as possible.

He said: “I want to make sure it gets to council sooner rather than later.

“We do need to get to a place where we can come to a conclusion and people can move on from all this.

“This has been dragging on for a long time now. We need to get a resolution and move on. I’m not sure we have reached a stage where we have a conclusion yet.”

A council spokesman said: “An update report regarding Cameron House will be discussed in private by councillors this week.”