Cost of investigation and disciplinary process re senior council officers

M Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the terms of the FOIA could I ask for details of the total costs incurred by the council in investigating two senior officers of the Department of Adult Social Services, described as 'Employee A' and 'Employee B', which culminated in disciplinary hearings earlier this year.

I would request that specific details be given of:

1. the amount paid to the 'independent investigator' who undertook the investigation.

2. any legal fees associated with the investigation

Yours faithfully,

M Smith

Veridici left an annotation ()

M Smith, while you're waiting on a response from the Council it might be worth keeping an eye on this blog: http://areallyrottenborough.blogspot.com/

M Smith left an annotation ()

I'm much obliged, Veridici. It is indeed interesting.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Wirral Borough Council is breaking the law, as it has not responded to my Freedom of Information request within the allotted period.

I am extremely dissatisfied that I have not even received an acknowledgement of my request, and I now request an internal review of the Council's handling of it.

My FOI request is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

Yours faithfully,

M Smith

Dave rimmer left an annotation ()

Wirral Council "breaking the law"....no, they wouldnt do that, would they?

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning,
Apologies for the delay in responding, you are correct that your request
is overdue as it was due up yesterday. I will make further enquiries
and get back to you today regarding the progress of your request.
The Council does not routinely acknowledge requests and it is not a
requirement of the legislation to do so. If a requestor specifically
requested an acknowledgement then we would of course send one.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,
Further to my email below. The Independent Investigation was done by
the North West Employers, I am just awaiting confirmation of the full
amount paid to them and this will be available to me tomorrow. I will
then be in a position to email you a full reply, and I thank you for
your patience in this matter.
There were no separate associated legal costs, as the legal work was all
done in house by Wirral Council Employees.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

Good Morning,
Apologies for the delay in responding, you are correct that your request
is overdue as it was due up yesterday. I will make further enquiries
and get back to you today regarding the progress of your request.
The Council does not routinely acknowledge requests and it is not a
requirement of the legislation to do so. If a requestor specifically
requested an acknowledgement then we would of course send one.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for your belated response.

You say "The Council does not routinely acknowledge requests and it is not a requirement of the legislation to do so."

As you have confirmed, your response, which would have served as an acknowledgement, was overdue, hence my request for a review being prompted by this site.

I await the full details in response to my request with great interest.

Yours sincerely,

M Smith

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,
Further to my email below, please find detailed the costs to the Council of the Independent Investigation, carried out by North West Employers.
(Apologies that this request has been delayed until today and not responded to on the due date of 28 September 2009.)

Costs including VAT were £14,678.95

I hope the information I have supplied is of use to you.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/LGCL/100004/200... Complaints procedure available here

This information supplied to you is copyrighted to Wirral Council and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge.

Good Afternoon,
Further to my email below. The Independent Investigation was done by the North West Employers, I am just awaiting confirmation of the full amount paid to them and this will be available to me tomorrow. I will then be in a position to email you a full reply, and I thank you for your patience in this matter.
There were no separate associated legal costs, as the legal work was all done in house by Wirral Council Employees.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Natasha Eubank left an annotation ()

is there no hard copy evidence to support the amount quoted by WBC?

There should be.

Veridici left an annotation ()

Natasha Eubank, my information from a very reliable source is that the investigation was not carried out by North West Employers.

Vic Hewitt of Vic Hewitt Consulting Ltd (Regd. No. 06490633) retired from North West Employers over nine months prior to being appointed by WBC.

He is a one-man business working from home. Around £5,000 per day is a very nice little earner for a pensioner, isn't it?

Dear Ms Corrin,

As a result of the annotation made by Veridici I made a telephone call to North West Employers. They confirmed that Mr Hewitt did indeed retire early last year, well before the investigation was ordered by WBC.

In view of this I think it best that the internal review go ahead in order to establish whether the information with which you have been provided is correct.

Yours sincerely,

M Smith

Veridici left an annotation ()

M Smith, you may well find the following of use:
http://blowingthewhistleonareallyrottenb...

It would certainly seem that the information manager is not being given all the information. I wonder why.

Dave rimmer left an annotation ()

It is not the first time that the information manager has been given blatantly incorrect information....see my
FOI concerning the Ownership of Egerton House

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your email below. I have now had sight of the invoices which the Council received and paid in relation to the independent Investigation, and they are from, and paid to North West Employers. I hope this has been of use.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for that information. In order to clear up any confusion, would it be possible for you to establish whether or not the investigation was sub-contracted by North West Employers to Vic Hewitt Consulting Ltd?

Regarding the second element of my request, you say there were no separate associated legal costs, as the legal work was all done in house by Wirral Council Employees.

Please will you provide an estimate of the cost of this investigation, as I assume the employees were not working pro bono. This can be calculated from the number of man-hours entailed and the salaries of those concerned.

Also I understand that Mr Martin Moreton, a Council whistle blower, stated publicly at a recent meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee that Wirral Council paid his solicitor's fees, in relation to the disciplinary investigation, from its commencement in 2008.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

M Smith

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your email below. I will take each point you have raised
in turn and hope you find the information of use.

You would have to contact North West Employers regarding whether they
subcontracted any work to Vic Hewitt Consulting Ltd. The requests we
receive under FOI relate to any recorded information we hold as a Public
Body and the recorded invoices we hold are for North West Employers.

Additionally, we do not have estimates recorded of the working hours of
our Solicitors against individual casework.

Your final point is noted, regarding Mr Morton stating that his
solicitor's fees were paid by the Council and I will make enquiries in
relation to this and get back to you on this point.

Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Natasha Eubank left an annotation ()

If the work was indeed sub-contracted out to Mr. Vic Hewitt, then this could only have been approved by the Chief Officer responsible for the commission of the investigation. This applies to all purchasing of services by the Council, to ensure that work isn't sub-contracted out to less than legitimate organisations.......ho-hum...

M Smith left an annotation ()

Thank you for that information, Natasha Eubank. It is most helpful.

Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for your reply.

I would be grateful if you would kindly ascertain whether or not this independent investigation was carried out by Mr Vic Hewitt. Also, could you kindly obtain confirmation that he was appointed in late November or early December 2008.

I am reliably informed that the Director of Law may be able to help you with this inquiry as he may have inforrmation which has not been made available to you

I await the result of your enquiries into Mr Morton's solicitor's fees with interest.

Yours sincerely,

M Smith

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your recent email shown below. I have supplied Council's response below which I trust you will find of use.

The Disciplinary Investigation concerning the two senior offices in DASS was conducted by Vic Hewitt. The contractual arrangement was between the Council and North West Employers.
The council has voluntarily agreed to pay for independent legal support for Martin Morton. This support has been provided by Mace and Jones Solicitors in Liverpool (who Mr Morton had [previously personally instructed). The support has been in place since 8 December 2008 and is continuing. The cost has amounted to £10,809.50 (plus VAT which the Council will recover).

Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/LGCL/100004/200... Complaints procedure available here

This information supplied to you is copyrighted to Wirral Council and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge.

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Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for your response.

I would be grateful if you would kindly identify the officer or officers who made the decision to engage Vic Hewitt through North West Employers rather than directly through his own company, Vic Hewitt Consulting Ltd., which would have saved public money?

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

M Smith

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning,

Thank you for your request for information below.  The Officer, who made
the decision to engage Mr. Hewitt through North West Employers, was our
Head of Legal Services, Mr. Bill Norman.  The contractual arrangement was
between the Council and North West Employers, it is common practice for
Local Authorities to contract with this organisation.

Mr. Norman requested names from North West Employers and Mr. Hewitt was
one of the names they provided.  Mr. Norman had had no previous dealings
with Mr. Hewitt and took his name as one recommended by North West
Employers.

I hope you find this information of use.

Kind Regards

Jane Corrin

Information Manager

 Wirral Council

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Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for the information

Yours sincerely,

M Smith