A GROUP of whistleblowers claimed they “suffered a shocking catalogue of detrimental treatment” after telling Wirral Council of their concerns over a multi-million pound contract.
The group had raised issues about the authority’s £40m highways contract with Colas five months before it was signed in 2009 – but were ignored.
Their case was later raised by Birkenhead MP Frank Field and led to a damning public interest report on the contract being published by a council watchdog.
Four senior officers, including acting chief executive Ian Coleman and director of law Bill Norman, were suspended while the district auditor’s investigation took place.
Last week the council said it was advised Mr Norman had “no case to answer” and should return to work but due to a management restructure he had chosen to leave.
He received termination and redundancy payments, plus costs, of around £150,000.
The council had earlier allowed Mr Coleman to take early retirement, paying £85,000 towards his pension costs.
Chief executive Graham Burgess had said a cross-party committee agreed “it would not be in the public interest to enter into a protracted legal process with an uncertain outcome” which could cost taxpayers up to £1m.
Two other senior officers remain suspended.
This week a spokesman for the whistleblowers said: “We have suffered a shocking catalogue of detrimental treatment as a result of whistleblowing when council measures should have been in place to protect us.
“As a result of these failures by Wirral Council, two of our group have lost their careers and are at risk of losing their homes, another has been demoted and one has had his personal details including his address – which should have been kept confidential – released by the council.
“We continued with this investigation in good faith due to Wirral Council stating it would eventually do the right thing and the relevant people would be held to account.
“The council also informed us that the bullying and detrimental treatment would also be investigated.
“The council has failed in that agreement.”
Surjit Tour, Wirral Council’s acting director of law, said: “We are in discussions with them [whistleblowers] in relation to the concerns that they have raised. It is not appropriate to comment any further at this time.”