Edinburgh council employee ‘hurled sectarian abuse at worker’

Cameron House on Prestonfield Avenue. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor / J P License.
Cameron House on Prestonfield Avenue. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor / J P License.
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A CITY council employee hurled sectarian-fuelled abuse at a community worker in front of shocked witnesses, according to a leaked memo.

The abuse was directed at a member of staff at the Cameron House community centre in Prestonfield, the chairwoman of the centre’s management committee, Moira O’Neill, says in a formal complaint lodged at the City Chambers. The letter lays bare a sense of betrayal at the centre over a litany of botched building works and the way it was caught up in “dirty tricks” campaign which targeted a council whistleblower.

“This kind of sectarian abuse of an employee is shameful and we understand from discussions at the time with elected members that you undertook to investigate this incident,” Ms O’Neill says in a letter to senior council lawyer Nick Smith.

“We are keen to hear what actions you have taken and we await a copy of the report of your investigations.”

The strongly-worded letter complains of on-going problems with “continually evasive and secretive responses” from senior management at the council in their efforts to get clear answers about what went on and who was responsible.

The city’s Tory leader Cameron Rose today called for “thorough and transparent” scrutiny from the council of Ms O’Neill’s complaint.

Ms O’Neill letter labels “deeply offensive” the council taking the word of one staff member who “can’t remember what was said” at one crucial meeting despite witnesses being present.

“The council is all but calling into question the integrity of all those who attended that meeting including the official minute taker,” continues Ms O’Neill.

“At no point has anyone else challenged those minutes. I have to say that all of us involved in this Community Education Centre find that utterly offensive and unacceptable.”

Floors, pipes and the heating system have been damaged at Cameron House in repeated floods while the centre was cleared to open despite effectively having a tarpaulin as part of the roof.

“Despite many years of 
dialogue in good faith on our behalf with the council, we appear to be no closer to establishing the truth,” writes Ms O’Neill.

The problems at Cameron House have also been linked to the harassment of a whistleblower who alleged fraud at an arms-length council company. Accusations currently being investigated by police include tampering with personnel records, a barrage of pornography sent to employees and anonymous online abuse. Ms O’Neill urges Mr Smith to consider an “alternative appropriate person” to investigate her complaint as he previously dealt with earlier parts of the investigation.

A council spokesman said: “We have received the letter from the Cameron House Management Committee which discusses various issues and we will respond as appropriate.”