Edinburgh council's Sean Bell scandal: Whistleblowers' champion says she feels intimidated about raising concerns

Education vice-convener Alison Dickie, who has spoken out passionately on behalf of whistleblowers, told the full council she felt intimidated about raising concerns at the meeting.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 26th November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 26th November 2021, 8:27 am

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The SNP councillor called on fellow councillors to ensure no stone was left unturned in the aftermath of the Tanner report into the Sean Bell scandal.

But she said she felt intimidated in saying what she did at the virtual council meeting.

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Alison Dickie says no stone must be left unturned

Cllr Dickie took time off sick in September after she wrote a piece in the Evening News on her concerns about how the council had responded to allegations from whistleblowers and called for "full accountability for any wrongdoing".

And she was labelled “Miss Marple” by Labour group leader and depute council leader Cammy Day at that month’s council meeting after she raised issues around the case of John Travers, a whistleblower who was subjected to a campaign of harassment and abuse after raising concerns about alleged misuse of £400,000 of council cash.

Councillor Day’s comment was condemned at the time and council leader Adam McVey, leader of the SNP group, was criticised for not distancing himself from the attack.

Speaking on the Sean Bell report Ms Dickie told Thursday’s full council: “At the end of all this – the inquiry report and recommendations – we need to be certain that no tone has been left unturned and all abuse has been uncovered.

“It is only by identifying the full scope if what has taken place that we will be able to understand how it was allowed to happen and to inform new systems that better protect.”

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And on the decision not to pursue a new investigation into claims Bell has misused council money, she said: "It may well be that in following the allegations about misuse of money there is the potential to identify other links about behaviour and networks. This was recently suggested to me by those who have raised allegations and concerns.

"As we know the inquiry could worked within the constraints of their terms and references and the evidence that was shared with them. We know too that they are aware of other survivors and that there are likely to be other survivors who do not yet feel ready to come forward but who may do so as their confidence grows in us to listen and to act.

"Some of those raising allegations have also shared with me their belief that this is only the tip of the iceberg of abuse and that there are many more individuals out there, bth adults and children.”

She said “wonderful” officers throughout the council would be feeling the stress of current events.

But she went on: “This should not prevent each any every one of us ensuring the voice of all survivors are heard and walking forward in the spirit of continuous improvement to better ensure this does not happen again.

"I’m going to finish by saying that I should not feel, as a councillor, intimidated by raising concerns – and I feel intimidated in raising these concerns at this full council."

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