Protect whistleblowers so ELLP scandal isn’t repeated: Jim Eadie

Cameron House. Picture: Toby Williams
Cameron House. Picture: Toby Williams
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THE Scottish Government is being asked to ensure no future whistleblower has to endure the treatment handed out to the council employee at the heart of the Cameron House scandal.

John Travers was “hounded” after he claimed in 2002 that almost £400,000 of public money had been misused at council arms-length company Edinburgh Lifelong Learning Partnership.

Disciplinary action was instigated against him and he and his allies, who worked at Cameron House community centre, were harassed and targeted with porn from a council computer.

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Now the SNP’s Jim Eadie, MSP for Edinburgh Southern for the past five years, has written to Local Government Minister Marco Biagi, asking if he is satisfied that strong enough whistleblower protection is in place to make sure the Cameron House saga could never be repeated.

The city council introduced a pioneering whistleblowers’ hotline in 2014, run by an outside, independent company, which has handled several cases and been hailed as a success.

Mr Eadie said he was seeking assurances from the Scottish Government that it believed sufficiently robust policies were in place.

He said: “After this man made the allegations, the council decided to get rid of him. He is only still in a job because he had the guts to take them to an employment tribunal.

“The Scottish Government has robust policies and procedures in place to promote whistleblowing in the NHS, particularly when patient safety is at risk.

“Can the minister provide assurances that equally robust measures are in place to protect council employees when they speak out, particularly in relation to the significant misuse of public money?

“I’m looking for a guarantee that were a situation like this to happen again, a council employee would not be treated in the same fashion.

“It’s too late for my constituent whose life has been turned upside down.

“But it’s not too late for the council to put robust policies and procedures in place to protect any future whistleblower.”

A specialist team from Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PwC) has been called in by the council to carry out a fresh investigation into the ELLP fraud allegations after the Evening News revealed Mr Travers was never interviewed during the original probe.

Mr Eadie said: “While I welcome any moves the council has made to protect whistleblowers, we need to know there will be full transparency around the PwC investigation and all the recommendations will be implemented. That’s why I have taken this step of writing to the minister.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com