Whistleblowers....number and amounts paid, source of funds

J Locker made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Waiting for an internal review by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council of their handling of this request.

From: J Locker

31 July 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

Good morning.

Under the terms of the FOIA could I ask for details of the number
of "whistleblowers" the council has "paid off " in the last three
years together with details of the amounts paid.

In addition I would request details of the source of those funds
paid out [ As detailed in the Council's accounting practice]
ie : From which sector of funding were the payments made ?

Many thanks

Link to this

Veridici left an annotation ( 5 August 2009)

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From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

11 August 2009

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your request for information below.

Wirral Council is not aware that they have ever made a payment to an
employee, in return for that employee promising not to report to the
appropriate authorities any concerns he/she might have, as to alleged
illegal behaviour either by the Council or by anyone connected with the
Council.

If you could clarify for me what you mean by "paid off" please, if the
response above has not answered your question.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Link to this

From: J Locker

12 August 2009

Dear Jane,

My original question did not mention "illegal behaviour" which
makes your response a little confusing.

However can I refer you to the minutes of the Audit and Risk
Management Committee
http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/Published...

5.3.3. What is beyond dispute is that the individual responsible
for the actual ‘Whistleblowing’ is a former employee of the Adult
Social Services Department who had been actively involved with the
case in question. This individual had expressed concerns to
management on a number of occasions regarding systems in operation
within the Department and the handling of this case.

5.3.4. A compromise agreement that included a confidentiality
clause was prepared and agreed by the Individual,the Adult Social
Services Department,Legal & Member Services and Human Resources.The
Head of Human Resources stated that this type of agreement,whilst
not being commonplace,has been utilised by the Council on a number
of occassions [sic] in certain circumstances where irrecoverable
differences are in evidence

Could you also confirm that the "Whistleblower" was paid the £45K
quoted in the Press. It is that sum, before or after tax
deductions, which I referred to when I asked from which sector of
funding the payments were made....ie where in my copy of the
Council's Audited Accounts will I find the entry ?

Many thanks

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

Link to this

From: J Locker

28 August 2009

Dear Sir or Madam,

I see that my request appears to have been set back to
"awaiting clarification" again...whereas previously , it was
"awaiting a response"

Clarification was requested on Aug 11 and as can be seen from the
request history , I responded on Aug 12

There is also no evidence of a second request for clarification
from WBC .

Could you investigate please ?

Yours faithfully,

J Locker

Link to this

From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 September 2009

Good Morning,
The status on whatdotheyknow has nothing to do with the public body and
we have no control over how the status is assigned.
You need to take your query up with the website.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin

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Link to this

From: J Locker

1 September 2009

Dear Jane

Many thanks...can I take it then that my amended request which
reads..

" Dear Jane,

My original question did not mention "illegal behaviour" which
makes your response a little confusing.

However can I refer you to the minutes of the Audit and Risk
Management Committee
http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/Published...

5.3.3. What is beyond dispute is that the individual responsible
for the actual ‘Whistleblowing’ is a former employee of the Adult
Social Services Department who had been actively involved with the
case in question. This individual had expressed concerns to
management on a number of occasions regarding systems in operation
within the Department and the handling of this case.

5.3.4. A compromise agreement that included a confidentiality
clause was prepared and agreed by the Individual,the Adult Social
Services Department,Legal & Member Services and Human Resources.The
Head of Human Resources stated that this type of agreement,whilst
not being commonplace,has been utilised by the Council on a number
of occassions [sic] in certain circumstances where irrecoverable
differences are in evidence

Could you also confirm that the "Whistleblower" was paid the £45K
quoted in the Press. It is that sum, before or after tax
deductions, which I referred to when I asked from which sector of
funding the payments were made....ie where in my copy of the
Council's Audited Accounts will I find the entry ?

Many thanks

Yours sincerely "

Is still under consideration by you then ?

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

Link to this

From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

2 September 2009

Good Morning,
Thank you very much for your request below. I am sorry but after taking legal advice I must advise you that, the information requested is not obtainable under the Freedom of Information Act.
This is because under Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act there is an exemption from disclosure in relation to personal data where disclosure would contravene one of the data protection principles.

The first data protection principle prohibits the processing of personal data (including disclosure) if to do so would be either unlawful or unfair.

The terms on which an employee agrees to terminate his employment are confidential and it would be unlawful for the Council to provide details to the public of such matters.
I hope this has clarified matters.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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Link to this

From: J Locker

2 September 2009

Dear Jane,

Many thanks.

Having established beyond doubt that the Council has paid off at
least one Whistleblower can I refer back to my original question ,
which was non specific and within the guidelines of both FOIA and
DPA , which was ...

"Under the terms of the FOIA could I ask for details of the number
of "whistleblowers" the council has "paid off " in the last three
years together with details of the amounts paid.

In addition I would request details of the source of those funds
paid out [ As detailed in the Council's accounting practice] ie :
From which sector of funding were the payments made ?"

I should stress that I am not asking for personal details about the
Whistleblower[s] but am enquiring from a budgetary point of
view….How Many , How Much , and where in the Council’s Annual
accounts will I find the entries…..in fact in order to ensure that
you do not contravene the
Data Protection Act I will modify my request even further…

“How much has been paid ? “ and “Where in the Council’s Annual
accounts will I find the entries?”

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

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Veridici left an annotation ( 7 September 2009)

Quote-marks J.Locker, you might find this intresting while waiting on a response.
http://areallyrottenborough.blogspot.com...

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J Locker left an annotation ( 8 September 2009)

Quote-marks Thats very interesting Veridici , thank you.

Its interesting that one authority is prepared to release personal details following a FOIA request , but not another.

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From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

9 September 2009

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for your email below. I am unable to add anything further to my
reply of 11th August, unless you can clarify for me what you mean by "paid
off".

Kind Regards

Jane Corrin

Information Manager

Wirral Council

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Link to this

From: J Locker

10 September 2009

Dear Jane

Many thanks for your reply.
It is disappointing that after all this time my initial request is
still being met with apparent
prevarication and semantics.
I am sure we all know exactly what I am asking and
exactly what I mean by "paid off" , in fact you inferred as much in
your statement....

"The terms on which an employee agrees to terminate his employment
are confidential and it would be unlawful for the Council to
provide details to the public of such matters."

However Let me see if I can help you by rephrasing
my questions again.

In the last three years has any Wirral Council employee received
any payment as part of a compromise
agreement ,in exchange for terminating their
employment with Wirral Council .
[ I think we have already established that they have ]

How much were they paid and where in my copy of
the the Council's audited accounts will I find the
entries.

Thank you

J Locker

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From: J Locker

11 September 2009

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

This request is currently overdue a response from Wirral Borough
Council.

By law, the response had to be prompt but no later than 10
September 2009

In view of the above I have no option but to request an internal
review

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

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From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

11 September 2009

Good Afternoon,
If the Public Body seeks clarification of the FOI request, as I have
done on Wirral's behalf; the Clock stops on the request until the
clarification is received. I received your clarification on 10
September 2009 regarding exactly what you meant by "paid off" and your
request is now being processed.
I am therefore unable to request an internal review for you in relation
to your request.
Kind Regards
Kane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

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From: J Locker

11 September 2009

Dear Jane

Many thanks for you reply.
My request for an internal enquiry was based on standard practice
used with regard to FOIA requests and upon advice received from
WDTK.com

However I am more than happy that you now seek a little more time
to answer my enquiry , in full , as obviously you are now satisfied
you understand what "paid off" means.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

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Veridici left an annotation (16 September 2009)

Quote-marks J Locker, you may find this of interest while Wirral process your request and you twiddle your fingers:
http://areallyrottenborough.blogspot.com/

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Veridici left an annotation (24 September 2009)

Quote-marks At a Wirral council meeting last night a 'Whistleblower' who formerly worked in Adult Social Services identified himself as Martin Morton, and confirmed that he was paid £45,000.00 by Wirral Council to "go away and keep quiet".

I hope this helps the Council to answer your question.

Link to this

From: Corrin, Jane
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

24 September 2009

[Subject only] FW: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Whistleblowers....number and amounts paid, source of funds

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From: J Locker

24 September 2009

Dear Jane,

Thank you for initiating the internal review

Its a great shame that we have to go to these lengths to get an
answer to what was a very simple and straight forward request.

Of course we now know of at least one whistleblower and the amount
paid , so hopefully the internal review will give us the
information requested some considerable time ago.... which should
have been released under the initial FOIA request.

One does wonder if there is something the council does not want us
, as tax payers , to know!

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

Link to this

From: Corrin, Jane
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

24 September 2009

Good Afternoon,
I will pass your request for the internal review through to our Legal
Section.

The information is not available under Freedom of Information, for the
reasons previously given. The Council can only release recorded
information to the Public when we are legally able to. It is not within
the gift of the Council to pick and choose what information it releases,
we are bound by legislation.

I will be back in touch with you regarding the outcome of the internal
review.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager

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Link to this

From: J Locker

25 September 2009

Dear Jane,

Thank you.

Finally can I refer back to your original response to me , some six
weeks ago...

" Wirral Council is not aware that they have ever made a payment to
an
employee, in return for that employee promising not to report to
the
appropriate authorities any concerns he/she might have, as to
alleged
illegal behaviour either by the Council or by anyone connected with
the
Council."

Do you still stand by that reply , in the light of recent events?

Yours sincerely,

J Locker

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Dave rimmer left an annotation (25 September 2009)

Quote-marks Cant wait for that reply?

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Veridici left an annotation (26 September 2009)

Quote-marks I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you Dave.

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Goodm left an annotation ( 1 October 2009)

Quote-marks Do you think the Internal Auditors will be able to take a non selective view in this? Their last attempt was pretty miserable. Who will be keeping an eye on them?
Goodm

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J Locker left an annotation (29 June 2010)

Quote-marks Its now nine months since agreement was given to launch an internal review.

Just how long does this procedure take ?

Does this recent FOI request have any bearing I wonder ?

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/al...

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Paul Cardin left an annotation (26 December 2010)

Quote-marks Just to help the requester..... Very soon, Openleaks will be with us and hopefully there will be a protected and local route, within a larger media organisation, for whistleblowers who are concerned about the despicable behaviour of the likes of Wirral Council, but experiencing the 'fear factor' associated with revealing the truth.

There will be no need to wait, twiddling your thumbs for 15 months for an 'internal review', when the media will at last be in a position to receive evidence, investigate and apply fair and legal pressure onto the crooks who are paid in public money to cover up their even more crooked colleagues' unlawful activities. At last, true accountability is just around the corner. Here is a link: http://techpresident.com/blog-entry/wiki...

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Pete Sheffield left an annotation (28 March 2011)

Quote-marks The information commissioner says a reasonable time frame for an internal review is 20 days.

Wirral accept this:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ti...

The time taken for this internal review is now considerable.

Pete

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Peter Offen left an annotation (13 April 2011)

Quote-marks So what is the status of this - I am keen to see the outcome...

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The Loose Cannon left an annotation (27 May 2011)

Quote-marks Has anyone opened a book on whether Wirral will respond to this before the second anniversary in just one months time?

Does the Council care that its behaviour is seen as scandalous by the people who pay their expenses/salaries? Of course not - it's a law unto itself and the devil take the poor and abused people of Wirral who are struggling.

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Pete Sheffield left an annotation ( 5 August 2011)

Quote-marks Two years and counting...

Is this a record?

Pete

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J Locker left an annotation ( 7 October 2011)

Quote-marks I think this has been brushed well and truly under the carpet.

The moral of the tale is ..... always know the answer before you make the FOI request !
That way , you see them wriggle as they try to find a reason not to answer.

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ( 9 October 2011)

Quote-marks FAO J Locker

A recent statement from the Information Commissioner in another case:

“Paragraph 40 of the Code states that in carrying out reviews:

The public authority should in any event undertake a full re-evaluation
of the case, taking into account the matters raised by the investigation
of the complaint.

As he has made clear in his published guidance on internal reviews, the
Commissioner considers that internal reviews should be completed as
promptly as possible. While no explicit timescale is laid down by the Act, the Commissioner’s view of a reasonable time for completing an internal
review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review. In
this case the Commissioner notes that the public authority took over
four months to provide an internal review. The public authority should
ensure that internal reviews are carried out promptly in future.”

I think it's worth approaching the ICO with the evidence you have here of a far greater failure. The council appear to be resting on their laurels and waiting for you to take it to the next stage. Either that, or they've forgotten - for which, there's no excuse.

With Wirral failing, and on the verge of special measures, I'd suggest you APPEAL to the ICO.

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J Locker left an annotation (10 October 2011)

Quote-marks Thank you
A report to the ICO is underway.

I suspect that my request for

" details of the source of those funds
paid out [ As detailed in the Council's accounting practice]
ie : From which sector of funding were the payments made ? "

......caused WBC more concern than the request for the number of Whistleblowers paid off !

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Paul Cardin left an annotation (11 October 2011)

Quote-marks Don't forget, your timescales have been thrown out by two years. May be worth revisiting this and asking for figures 'to date'

As we all know, the number of whistleblowers is being added to.

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Pete Sheffield left an annotation (31 December 2011)

Quote-marks Two and a half years. Shocking.

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Pete Sheffield left an annotation (22 April 2012)

Quote-marks Approaching 3 years..

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Peter Offen left an annotation (23 April 2012)

Quote-marks One possibility: Questioner may seek the name of the member of staff who is responsible for this failure to do their job (they are paid to do the job and are trusted to do so) and then contact the elected councillor(s) who may have portfolio for FOI and insist on action to resolve the issue. As trustees. staff are liable personally for failure and may be sacked. This is a basic principle.

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Paul Cardin left an annotation (11 September 2012)

Quote-marks Wirral Council have now taken to smearing the public in order to avoid any responsibility for their woeful long term performance on Freedom of Information.

A Rogues' Gallery of 10 local citizens has been drawn up and supplied to councillors within a report and, accompanied by keywords from the FoI Act such as "vexatious; frivolous; obsessive; harassing"; has been served up to councillors with the intention of "managing reputation" and diverting them away from the real causes of the problem ~ scandal after scandal, 4 suspended directors, and a badly resourced data and information governance section:

http://tinyurl.com/dxgb755

Warning. There is also an item in the local newspaper which has had liberal strokes from the Press Officer's set of crayons:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/990771...

Advice to J Locker. Never a better time to revive this request and get them to explain why they seemed to make false representations and evade paying the tax due to the exchequer.

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