4th May 2023 council elections. Statement by Paul Cardin, Freedom Alliance candidate for Seacombe ward, Wirral

I’m self-employed. I have a wife and two daughters whom I want to provide for, but as we’re all aware, this has been made very difficult by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

I’ve run the https://www.wirralinittogether.blog for the last 10 years. This has exposed serious failures – including disabled abuse, corruption and cronyism at Wirral Labour and Tory-run councils over the last decade.

If elected, my mission is to give people new hope, to restore dignity to public debate and to try and make the council honest and accountable to its people.

I am a Falklands War veteran and a published author. Back in 2003, as a Wirral Council street lighting design employee, I blew the whistle on highly suspect financial activity. The Labour-run council branded me a ‘troublemaker’ and responded with a range of bogus gross misconduct charges which were aimed at dismissing me. I won my case but was forced to resign my position.

My blog later exposed the fact that Wirral Labour’s councillors and their senior officers had plunged local council taxpayers and their children and grandchildren into £202 million of LOBO loans debt which won’t be paid off until the year 2078. The local newspapers never reported on this situation.

Like everyone, I am watching the world around us go through very rapid and uncalled-for changes. As a critical thinker who is not vaccinated against Covid19, I have been troubled over the last three years by the authoritarian, bullying, coercive actions of the UK government, the powerful but unregulated pharmaceutical companies and the inadequate reporting of the media. I believe the threat to life of the Covid19 virus has been overstated and the mRNA vaccine response was forced through for all the wrong reasons. These behaviours have been motivated by the desire for a climate of fear, which in itself has proven to be a serious threat to local businesses, to the fabric of our society and to people’s hard-won freedoms.

This has all been compounded by rising food and energy prices, raised council tax, industrial disputes and government/employer intransigence which threatens everyone’s job security.

Locally, it’s time to return the borough of Wirral to a time where issues are properly debated, a sense of community is restored and elected representatives are there for the people and not to sit idly by, waste our precious time or carve out opportunities for each other. Please make your vote count this time!

Link to my Twitter account and a pinned tweet which contains 101 instances of Wirral Council abuse, corruption, scandal and cronyism. Click below, then scroll down to read:

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[VIDEO] The time I blew the whistle at bullying Wirral LABOUR council and bullying Cheshire West and Chester council

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Council Tax Cash for Honours. The Quid Pro Quo. Freedom of the Borough of Wirral (x 2) in return for huge cash favours bestowed upon councillors

All about how the grand old institution of FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH OF WIRRAL has been soiled by filthy corruption and favours for ‘MATES’…

Wirral In It Together

cash for honours the story of wirral council

Council Tax Cash for Honours

Here’s a little throwaway item. On the surface, it’s an absolutely tedious, nothing story which we spotted in today’s online Wirral Globe local ‘newspaper’, a site we don’t visit very much. 

Not since its editor became an obedient little puppy dog, leaping, scurrying, fetching, coming to heel, then panting like a loathsome, scabby mongrel, in return for owner Wirral Council’s treats, regular walkies, public cash, favours, wraparound adverts and the occasional boot up the arse…


Forget the American airman, brave though he was. He’s a distraction, thrown in to draw attention away from the main event, i.e. Freedom of the Borough of Wirral for Dr. Nunzia Bertali.

“Who the hell is that?” …we hear you cry. Well, here’s some pretty ancient history, drawn from one of our old posts, titled:


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Watch “Wirral Whistleblowing Scandal – BBC Evening News” on YouTube

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Wirral LABOUR Councillor Foulkes and his wife’s alleged #Racism – met with Radio Silence across Wirral, Merseyside and the North West

Just over three years ago. A reminder of how sick and broken Wirral Council really is.

Wirral In It Together

media radio silence
radio silence
  • an absence of or abstention from radio transmission.
    “at midnight, the enemy went on total radio silence”
    • a period during which one hears nothing from a normally communicative person or group.

    We’re being a little unfair here, and it would be quite wrong of us to accuse The Liverpool Echo, The Wirral Globe, BBC Northwest Tonight, and The BBC News of adopting complete ‘radio silence’.

    If we check, we can all see that service never actually stopped and is continuing as abnormal, but things aren’t quite what they seem, certain Wirral Council style machinations have crept in, and there is now a very large elephant in the room.

    On the day that Wirral Leaks scooped the alleged #racism by Elaine Foulkes, former Wirral Mayoral Consort, wife of Councillor Steve Foulkes… who is a…

    o former Wirral Council Leader

    o former Mayor

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LOBO loans. Wirral Council plunged the people of Wirral, our kids and grandkids into £295 million of foreseeable, avoidable debt. We objected in 2016. Grant Thornton’s response has just arrived!

February 2021 update

The sum outstanding has reduced to £202 million.

This bid to highlight the fact that Wirral Council plunged its citizens into £295 million of debt – which is finally paid off in the year 2078 – and have it investigated by the courts eventually FAILED. Why? Because we didn’t have the money needed to pay a highly-qualified legal team. This would have been required to pursue it and expose the dishonest council and their deceitful auditors.

Ourselves, our kids and our grandkids will be forced to bail them out.

The captured Wirral Globe and Liverpool Echo are obediently staying silent on it.

And just to rub it in a little more, our council tax pays the allowances and expenses of the councillors / the fees of the auditors and helps them to keep one step ahead of any accountability.

Wirral In It Together

YEP! We’ve received the Grant Thornton response to our August 2016 qualifying objection, which arrived a couple of weeks back signed by their Director John Gregory. Attached to his email was a 13-page Decision and Statement of (alleged)Reasons.

We’d originally asked for a public interest report to be drawn up and for a High Court acknowledgment of Wirral Council’s failings to be produced. These were perfectly reasonable requests given the long and abject history of failure. A failure which had been replicated right across the country by hundreds of councils ‘during the good times’. Ha.

There then followed some to’ing and fro’ing. The decision had been stamped with an unsightly “Commercial in Confidence”; an attempt at trashing the valuable concept of openness and transparency.

We wanted to publish it. They wanted to conceal it, claiming it was a letter to us (and not the Wirral Public) and…

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Breaking: Wirral Labour / Tory councillors on the board of Magenta Living recklessly jeopardised the safety of thousands of their Wirral tenants

You’ll find absolutely bugger all here at the Magenta Living home page on this urgent, breaking news story. How strange, readers? 


These are the three Wirral Councillors who earn money in return for sitting on the Magenta Living board – one as a non-exec director.

We are referring here to the former “Wirral Partnership Homes, Trading as Magenta Living”, whose portfolio of 13,000 dwellings, representing Wirral Council’s former Council Housing stock, was farmed out to the money-grubbing, profiteering private sector 14 years ago, during Tony Blair’s hard right power trip and his destructive hollowing out of traditional Labour Party values and the ‘torifying‘ of its policies.

Two of the board are alleged ‘Labour’ councillors, one is a Tory. Two of them – Foulkes and Green – are former hard right Labour and Tory council leaders, respectively. 

Here’s a link to the article:


We’ve been in this game a long time, in fact since resigning from Wirral Council 16 years ago and starting this blog 8 years later. 

Long enough to recognise at a glance a contrived puff-piece, reeking of prior concealment, containment, and controlled cover-up.

Not surprisingly, none of this scandal and abject failure has been reported in Wirral Council’s partner media organisations – the captured Wirral Globe and Liverpool Echo – presumably because a commercial decision will have been made privately not to risk alerting / alienating readers – at local election time FFS – many of whom will be readers of both newspapers and expecting to be drip-fed tedious, non-controversial items, masquerading as ‘news’, and whom, if told, may decide to withdraw their support and to not vote for Claughton candidate Steve Foulkes upon witnessing his reckless behaviour re: tenants’ safety.

No, they can’t be risking that.  So it’s a case of slam the shutters down and say nothing.

If you check here – you’ll be horrified to learn that the local papers don’t report crimes like alleged #racism either, particularly not where prominent Labour Executive members like Foulkes or George Davies (see the infamous #Wirralgate) are heavily implicated in it. 

We don’t personally rent from Regenda, so we’re fortunate. But if you’re unlucky and have ended up saddled with this dubious trio as your landlords, we’d suggest that no matter what assurances are given in private or public – there’s nothing in the papers, obviously – they simply cannot be trusted not to lie straight-faced.

Their current collective radio silence and the lack of any news in the Wirral rags on this issue should be telling you all you need to know.

Don’t expect to see any stories along the lines, “thousands of Magenta Living tenants could have been burned to a crisp in their beds thanks to our woeful councillors” in the pisspoor Wirral View either. 

Serial bullies are always serial cowards. It kinda goes with the territory.

You may have to take some action yourself. 

wirral elections - this way to the poll

Finally, if you’re a Claughton resident,  renting from Magenta Living or not, do you really think it would be a good idea to vote for the likes of Steve Foulkes, who is your candidate in the upcoming local elections on May 2nd?

Surely the other options are looking far more attractive now?

Claughton candidates May 2019 - Foulkes

Foulkes was the character who as Wirral hard right Labour Council leader oversaw the theft of £736,756.97 from learning disabled council tenants over a 9 year period – five of whom died – then squandered a fortune in your council tax trying and failing to cover it all up. 

Accountability duly arrived and his punishment was to be chauffeured around Wirral as MAYOR for a year, thanks to a recommendation from his buddy, now outgoing liar, hard right Labour leader and liar (see hereherehereherehere, and here) Phil Davies. 

Voting for this character would equate to knocking on the doors and spitting into the faces of your friends and neighbours. It’s not going to make you a very popular person around Claughton.

Just don’t do it! 



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‘Woe is Wirral’ : The Halliday scandal reaches Private Eye – again !

Highly irregular…!


A very good summary of the foreseeable Stewart Halliday scandal in this week’s ‘Rotten Boroughs’ section of Private Eye. And how courteous of them to acknowledge Wiralleaks (sic) as being an ‘excellent website’. It would seem that gone are the days when a local journo would earn a bit of pin money by flogging stories filched from us to Lord Gnome’s esteemed organ. Whilst we were OK with spreading the (bad) word about Wirral Council what did rankle was the lack of acknowledgment of where the stories or information first appeared. This is a tradition that the Liverpool Echo, in particular, continues with to this day. The belated coverage of the Halliday case by the local press entirely failed to mention that the incriminating invoices at the centre of the scandal and which led to Halliday’s downfall first appeared on this website in our EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name?…

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High Noone at Reading Council. Danger averted…


VIDEO – added in June 2021:


Reading Council appointed an abuser of disabled people as its Head of Adult Social Care.

The following links have the full history to this debacle:

An emergency safeguarding message has been left with our representative on Wirral Council, Seacombe Councillor Adrian Jones – 4th June 2018

The causal link between a Wirral Council failure and a safeguarding emergency – 5th June 2018

3 Safeguarding Emergency. An updating email to Councillor Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Council – 13th June 2018

4 Reading Council latest. We hate saying “We told you so…” but… – 14th June 2018

5 It looks like holding Wirral and Reading Councils to account is not going to be easy

Reading Council latest. The emergency safeguarding situation. Here’s some “Private Eye” cuttings.

7 Thousands endangered in Reading. Here’s the FOI request spelling it all out. Yet still… Wirral Council FAILED

8 It’s “Wirral In It Together” ……as the Wirral Tory Leader closes ranks to march in step with his Labour chums

Reading Council Safeguarding emergency. Confirmation of Noone and Fowler’s compromise agreements

10 Our local councillor Adrian Jones washes his hands of Wirral Council abuse, then passes the buck to Reading Council

11 A crime suspect is chased through Wallasey by the police. What happened next…? And do we have our priorities right……..??

Due to a recently exposed safeguarding emergency, Maura Noone has now left her job as Interim Head of Adult Social Services at Reading Borough Council.

Here is a rather begrudged admission from somebody called Councillor Tony Jones, who is Reading Council’s member for Adult Social Services. Nowhere did he find the courtesy to thank anybody, least of all Wirral In It Together or Wirral Leaks for heading off what could have turned into another unmitigated, foreseeable, avoidable Social Services catastrophe, similar to the one that came crashing down onto the heads of a number of vulnerable, learning disabled people of Wirral, on Noone’s watch, only a few short years ago.

And we are now forced to ask, “What about Disclosure and Barring”?  The much vaunted government service that prevents paedophiles, abusers, criminals, ne’erdowells from landing influential jobs where the lives and wellbeing of thousands of innocent, vulnerable, at risk people are at stake.

Well, she got around it somehow.  But how Councillor Jones?  You’re the member in charge of this department at Reading Borough Council.  Did you appoint her? How was her application successful?

And while you’re there…

  • Has Noone signed a fresh settlement agreement and gagging clause?
  • Has Noone been paid off richly in public money?
  • Is Noone’s recent departure from Reading a direct result of this fresh June 2018 scandal you had immersed yourselves in?
  • Will Noone receive a positive reference from you, her most recent employer to flourish before her next potential employer?
  • Armed with a positive reference, will Noone successfully run the gauntlet of Disclosure and Barring all over again?


An answer is now in to our Freedom of Information request lodged recently:

A response is now in to the Reading Council / Maura Noone FOI request

Around a month ago, when the scandal broke, in the hope of getting news of this dangerous situation out there, amongst others, we contacted a chap called Hugh Fort, a reporter at something called GetReading.

The umbrella organisation for the title GetReading – which appears to regard itself as a ‘newspaper’ – used to be known as Trinity Mirror, a huge national concern with hundreds of titles.  This recently re-branded itself “REACH PLC”.

Anyway, take it from us, it’s shit.  Why is it shit?  Because it’s a news organisation that doesn’t cover something known as news.

We explained in great detail to Hugh Fort what had happened at Wirral.  We followed him on Twitter and provided him with links which went into great detail on how Noone and Fowler were proven inside Anna Klonowski’s external investigation to have spent years financially abusing learning disabled people (follow the links above).

Yet Hugh didn’t run with it.

Why not?  We’ll assume it’s because his superiors instructed him not to.  Which will be the same situation that occurred here on Wirral when we contacted BBC-funded Tom Houghton and he quickly got the thumbs down from his superiors, Executive Editor Steve Graves and Political Editor Liam Thorp at the Liverpool Echo..

…parent organisation, er, once again…….REACH PLC.

Imagine going into work to do your reporter’s job, an essential and very valuable job, a role which could and should be alerting the local population to dangers in their midst, a role which needs protecting in its endeavours and encouragement in these dark times, and some bastard in a suit steps in and bizarrely tells you you can’t do it!!

And this is POST-SAVILE ffs !

savile pic for noone losing her job at reading post

Well, you don’t get yourself completely off the hook, Hugh.  If anyone did that to us, we’d be hitting them with a letter of resignation inside the very next minute.

Sadly, we are a special case. For our sins, we’ve been burdened by principles and a desire to protect people, whereas Hugh evidently has not……..because he still appears to be ‘working’ there, drawing a salary, enjoying his holidays and sick pay, but most of all……….obeying orders, and churning out what he describes as “Advanced Content” .

We covertly recorded 2 x telephone conversations with Hugh and have tweeted him to politely request his permission to reproduce excerpts from these on this blog.

If he agrees, we will reproduce selected parts of the conversations here.  If he refuses, we will redact the contents and only include sections from Paul Cardin’s dialogue, substituting Hugh’s contributions with [xxxxxxxxx].  If he doesn’t respond in 48 hours, we’ll do the same, redacting the contents as if he’d refused.

Here are the transcribed conversations.

Update on 23rd January 2021

From 9 years ago today…in the Wirral News.

Update on 23rd June 2021

Surjit Tour, the council’s most senior legal officer, regarded these two proven disabled abusers as being “in the clear”………….

Below, two screenshots from a truly EPIC FOI request placed with abusers Wirral Council, who took ten months to respond…

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Thousands endangered in Reading. Here’s the FOI request spelling it all out. Yet still… Wirral Council FAILED

15 04 17 - surreal wirral

The story so far

See the following links for more on the unfolding situation in Reading:

An emergency safeguarding message has been left with our representative on Wirral Council, Seacombe Councillor Adrian Jones – 4th June 2018

The causal link between a Wirral Council failure and a safeguarding emergency – 5th June 2018

Safeguarding Emergency. An updating email to Councillor Jo Lovelock, Leader of Reading Council – 13th June 2018

Reading Council latest. We hate saying “We told you so…” but… – 14th June 2018

It looks like holding Wirral and Reading Councils to account is not going to be easy

Reading Council latest. The emergency safeguarding situation. Here’s some “Private Eye” cuttings.

We’ve been taking some time to dig back over the period of 2011 through to early 2012 and have unearthed some very uncomfortable reading for two local authorities who’ve recently decided to block us on Twitter, these being Reading Council (@ReadingCouncil), and before them, Wirral Council (@WirralCouncil)

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you’ll be aware that between them they set about cooking up an almost perfect recipe for disaster that has now gone full circle as thousands of vulnerable adults in the Reading area queue up to be potentially abused by a former Wirral senior officer, a proven abuser who escaped any sanction for her sins, was protected, gagged and given a clean bill of health.

The whole scenario is a horrendous mix of *calculated* and *reckless*. 

The reason that this came about was because in January 2012 the then CEO of Wirral Council was desperate to ensure that he didn’t get dropped into the poo poo by any vindictive person getting disciplined as a result of a looming independent report into a Social Services scandal.  As the day of reckoning approached, there were two potential candidates lining up for this role in the shape of Maura Noone and Mike Fowler.

So before he retired on ill health and with a fat pay-off of £111,000 not long after this episode, he took care to ensure that their palms were greased with £220,000 in public cash, and that they and Wirral Council itself were gagged inside what were then known as “compromise agreements”.

These things are still legal, still despoiling our lives and have had their names changed to “settlement agreements”.  To give you an idea of the size of the problem, between 2005 and 2011, an estimated £226 million in pay offs was linked to their use among local authorities.

In a separate overlapping survey, undertaken between 2010 and 2015, a further £226 million was squandered.

Their purpose can be manifold, but you can almost guarantee that where senior officers are concerned, they receive them after threatening to fall foul of either statutory law or becoming a danger to the issuing body’s reputation.  So if you’re a panicking CEO, you reach for these babies to shut the bastards up and to protect yourself from any spiteful comeback …using council tax payers’ cash to grease the path and help you along this rocky road.

Anyway, onto the next subject …this absolutely epic FOI request.  The following section is the entire contents of this query, which we made to Wirral Council via the excellent WhatDoTheyKnow website on 11th January 2012.  Yes, SIX years ago.  This disaster really has been brewing that long.

We stuck to the task and finally got the answer – or part of it – in November of the same year, 10 months later.

If you’ve been following this story, you will already appreciate what we were telling Wirral Council back then, that they were headed for a fall, that if they failed to act in the public interest and punish these two abusers, that if they continued to protect them, they would be storing up trouble that would come back and bite not just them, but other unknown employers and more importantly, unknown numbers of innocent, vulnerable people in the future.

So what did they do?  Nothing.

The Council failed, the courts failed and the Information Commissioner’s Office failed.  We got a hattrick of dead beat institutions with their hands in each other’s pockets, that placed the interests of these two abusers ahead of vulnerable citizens.

And all done in their frantic desire to close ranks, tick boxes, cover each other’s arses and be as goddamn obtuse and unfeeling as only the most toxic, closed off, out of touch, blue sky thinking  bureaucrats can be.

Here’s the link:


DASS – Recent Departure of Two Senior Officers

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

The request was partially successful.

Paul Cardin 

“Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,


Above is a link to a news story published this week in the Wirral Globe, which reports the departure “by mutual consent” of two senior officers, presumably involved at the very least, in disabled abuse.

This story relates to the findings within the AKA (Anna Klonowski) report, and the learning disabled abuse which was admitted to by the Council in this document (see 7.1):


Please provide all information you have which is connected to the departure of the above two senior members of staff. This will relate to meetings, hearings, discussions, and may be stored in the form of recorded minutes, verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos, aide memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments made to the two members of staff in relation to their departure, collectively or individually. This will include precise amounts, the method of payment and the budget from which the payment was derived.

Please confirm details of the existence of any “compromise agreements” signed by the two members of staff. This will include confirmation of any ‘gagging clauses’ and whether a positive / neutral / negative reference was provided regarding potential future employment.

Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations / bodies involved in providing legal advice to the two departing officers. Please also provide details of meetings which occurred including times, dates and matters discussed.

Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either planned or levelled against the two officers in relation to the failures which brought about their departure from the Council.

If either or both of the two officers were provided with a “clean bill of health” regarding their time served at the council, please provide a copy of this / these document(s).

Please redact documents as you see fit, and remove the names of two departing officers in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act”

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin 

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

With regard to the previous FoI request, please amend paragraph 4. to read:

Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments / awards / rewards / bonuses made to the two members of staff in relation to their departure or their prior employment, collectively or individually, given as part of a “leaving package”. This will include precise amounts, the method of payment / award / reward / bonus and the budget from which the payment / award / reward / bonus was 

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Lyon, Rosemary A., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 

I am writing to give you notice under Section 17 (2) (b) of the Freedom of 
Information Act 2000, that the Council considers that the exemption 
contained in Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, may 
apply to your request, but that the Council has not yet reached a decision 
under Section 2 (b) of the Act as to whether an exemption will apply, 
having regard to the public interest test, and in those circumstances, the 
Council requires additional time beyond the initial 20 working days.

The exemption in Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 
provides that:

Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt 
information if:

(a)   it constitutes personal data which do not fall within (1) and

(b)   either the first or second condition is satisfied.

The first condition, is that the disclosure of the information to a member 
of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene

(i)    any of the data protection principles.

I have had regard to the Information Commissioner’s Office Guidance 
concerning time limits (Good Practice Guidance No 4). I consider that the 
public interest considerations are exceptionally complex and in those 
circumstances that the estimate of time required for the Council to make a 
decision on your request is 14 days from today, namely by 22 February 


Yours sincerely,

Rosemary Lyon,


Wirral Borough Council

Paul Cardin 

Dear Lyon, Rosemary A.,

Thanks for your response.

I am disappointed with your response, however thank you for explaining the situation and I look forward to receiving your full response within the next 14 days, namely by 22nd February.

May I remind you that I DID specify that any documents supplied could be redacted? This was done in order to protect the identities and the expectations of protection under the DPA that the two officers would expect (regardless of the likelihood that they had both been involved in learning disabled abuse over a protracted period of up to 9 years),

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Flashing Blade left an annotation ()

This is outrageous. This is public money and we have a right to know just how much public servants are paid. We know their salaries and thus should be entitled to know how much they get paid off.

Pete Sheffieldleft an annotation ()

I smell expensive external legal advice…

Tour, Surjit, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 

Dear Mr Cardin

Further to the above matter, please note that I am now dealing with your 
request for information.

I note that Rosemary Lyon confirmed that a decision would be provided to 
you today. Unfortunately that will not be possible. In order that the 
public interest test can be considered fully, I will require a further 
short period of time to complete my assessment and evaluation of the 
complexities arising in relation to the public interest test in this 

Accordingly, I confirm that a response will be provided to you on or 
before Friday, 2 March.

I apologise for the delay in providing a response to your request for 

Yours sincerely

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Heston O Riley left an annotation ()

Surely it should not be a problem getting this info ? After all the new Leader wants openness and transparency. In fact he himself is asking the same questions being asked here.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

You presume that the officers are working with the Leader of the Council. They work for him… but not necessarily with him. 

You may be interested in the leaked email exchange about the library report where Bill Norman seems not to be forward in sharing information with Mr Green. Mr Green seems understandably rather irate. 


It may be on John Brace’s blog.. but I have read the larger exchange which was quite entertaining.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I placed a call with Mr Tour today to check on progress with this request.

I was informed that he was “in a meeting”. I left my number for him to call me back with any news, but he failed to return the call.

Time’s now up on this request and I will be placing an appeal with the Information Commissioner, along with extensive background details in support of the appeal. I believe there is a compelling public interest element in this case – one that presses for early and detailed disclosure. I do not agree that there are ‘complexities’.

I believe Wirral Council are once again completely out of order, dragging their feet in a situation where it now seems increasingly likely that two abusive senior officers, instead of being faced with gross misconduct charges, may have been handsomely rewarded and shielded for their part in up to 9 years of systematic learning disabled abuse.

The local public place trust in their public servants to act fairly, displaying moral fibre and in defence of the public interest.

We are yet to witness any accountability where these two officers are concerned.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

It is all too common that the only way to gain transparency from WBC is via the ICO.

John Brace left an annotation ()

It’s a shame I didn’t know about this the day before yesterday, as Surjit Tour crept in late and sat next to my wife. He did make two apologies for being fifteen minutes late though. 
http://johnbrace.com/2012/03/20/licensin… . Personally I don’t like the way councillors are so creepy towards him, but as he’s the head of Legal and Member (Member = in the main councillor) I suppose that’s why! You’d probably get more sense out of AKA, AKA’s lawyers or the LGA, have you considered making the FOI request to those as from what I remember government contractors are covered by the FOI legislation. It really does smack of a cover up though because the local elections are on the horizon…. as long as the officers can hold out to 29th March they can “kick it into the long grass”…

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

If you could remind him that he is responsible for 14 outstanding internal reviews, and of the multitude which have gone to internal review due to lateness he is still yet to explain why any of them were not answered on time. 

His performance is much like his timeliness to his meetings.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I’ll think about all your suggestions John. Thanks for that.

Could I suggest that you follow my requests by email? That way you’ll be notified immediately if there’s a development.

Thanks again.

John Brace left an annotation ()

Yes I’m following this one by email as of yesterday, as I have more info on it already. Next time I see Surjit Tour I’ll remind him.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

An appeal regarding this request was lodged on 3rd March 2012 with the Information Commissioner, who have yet to respond.

Wirral Council have once again fallen silent.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

I see the new regime of transparency is in full swing. Maybe this could be brought up at the meeting with senior officers on thursday, where they are to be reminded that they are public servants.

Paul Cardin 

Dear Tour, Surjit,

Since your organisation fell silent on this request, the Information Commissioner’s Office was urged to send you the following letter on 13th April 2012, almost a month ago:


The ICO gave you a generous 10 days to respond. I gave you much longer. It warned you of the consequences of not co-operating, or not responding adequately, without good reason, to perfectly valid public requests. However once again the request has fallen upon stony ground.

This has resulted in my having to notify the ICO again today, in order for them to take it to the next stage. I have appraised the ICO fully on the shameful history to these events and a decision notice may be issued very shortly, which will almost certainly not find in favour of Wirral Council; indeed the matter may be taken to the First Tier Tribunal. If this is the case, I will be pursuing it personally as I and many other local people believe it is time for a light to be shone into some very murky recesses.

A huge public interest has built up around this case. Indeed, if you type the following 2 word phrase into Google, “Departure Officers”, this particular request comes out TOP, ahead of all other items with those particular words.

It is now incumbent upon those at the top of this council, who still appear to be failing, to allow the local public to see whether true accountability is in fact being deliberately circumvented.

This kind of evasive behaviour would in fact be consistent with the depressing findings laid out within both the Martin Smith and Anna Klonowski reports – in brief, a bullying council where the abnormal had become normal.

I thought it only courteous to notify you of the latest developments,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I placed a call with Mr Tour again at 3:15 pm today to check on progress with this request, and to impart some new information to him. 

I was informed that he was “on the phone”. I left my number for him to call me back, but he failed to return the call. 

I called back at 3:50 telling the lady it was urgent, and I was told he was “still in a meeting”. I said he wasn’t in a meeting before, he was on the phone. Rather unhelpfully, she then told me she hadn’t had the chance to pass any message to Mr Tour. 

The situation has now become rather more urgent – in fact a dangerous (if entirely predictable) situation is developing. 

One of the anonymous departed officers has begun “advertising his/her wares” on the LinkedIn website, however nowhere within his/her profile is there any reference to alleged abuse or the Chief Executive Officer’s admission to the abuse of learning disabled people, engaged in by Wirral Council (see 7.1): 


Neither is there any reference to his/her departure from Wirral in highly controversial circumstances and “by mutual consent”, with the timing (just before release of the Anna Klonowski report) and the strong added suspicion of his/her receiving a large pay off. 

I have now asked the ICO to escalate this request, because without the Council providing all the NECESSARY information in the legitimate and now urgent public interest, there COULD be a potential danger to vulnerable or disabled members of the public should this officer be unwittingly appointed in a senior role by a different Council, public body or service provider in the care sector in the near future. 

We are yet to witness any accountability – not just where these two officers are concerned, but on a much wider basis, for any officer or member connected to the learning disabled abusive practices admitted to by the Chief Executive of Wirral Council. 

This situation is now starting to get out of control and may be getting dangerous. I am hopeful that the ICO can apply enough pressure onto Wirral Council to convince them of the need to act and to act now.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Is Eric Pickles the LA Minister?http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/…believe the Gov Transparency Tsar Tim Kelsey may have an interest toohttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Kelsey
Cant see it making a huge difference but it may wake them up!

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

To Transparency Department, Cabinet Office. 17th May 2012


(Copy of above letter follows…….)

To Cabinet Office Transparency Dept on 17th May 2012

Details of original FoI request here:


Dear Sir,

There is a dangerous situation developing in my borough, which has been created by the failure of a council to apply disciplinary sanctions and make senior officers fully accountable following learning disabled abuse, and an ensuing failure to release vital information around this in the legitimate public interest, and in the interests of transparency.

One of two senior officers who left this council through “mutual consent”, potentially paid off, and almost certainly under a compromise agreement with a ‘gagging clause’ is now looking for work on the LinkedIn website.

(link removed to protect identity of individual)

Although the council’s CEO has admitted to learning disabled abuse; see 7.1:


…there has been zero accountability to follow.  Moreover, it looks as though the above two departing officers have been rewarded and had their activities effectively concealed.

I tried to notify the Council’s Monitoring Officer today of this danger, but without success.  I have very briefly notified Tim Kelsey at @tkelsey1 of this on Twitter today,

best regards,

Paul Cardin

Helen Hale left an annotation ()

“Accordingly, I confirm that a response will be provided to you on or before Friday, 2 March”

Hmmm… it hardly instills confidence in the Borough’s legal dept if it takes them this long to decide whether an exemption under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 can be applied.

It’s outrageous that there has been no further explanation for the delay in this case, and like you say extremely worring that either of these people could potentially be employed in a senior position of trust with responsibility for vulnerable adults again.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Rang again early afternoon to speak to Surjit Tour. “In a meeting” was the answer. Left my number again and asked them to ask him to call me back. Nothing. Rang again at 12:40 pm. “Not in his office” was the answer. But she assured me that Mr Tour will call me back.

Mr Tour called me back at 1:50 pm. I told him about the dangerous situation which had come about, that I was aware of his own involvement in it, that it was foreseeable, and that I felt action was needed to prevent the two officers who had left the council in January being taken on unwittingly in a senior role, which may have responsibility attached to it for the welfare of vulnerable / disabled people.

He disagreed that it was a ‘dangerous situation’.

I remarked that the public have yet to see any accountability for proven abuse and bullying. Mr Tour regards these as ‘allegations’. I said they’d been proven following two detailed investigations. He said this was only ‘my opinion’.

I told him that I’d received an email from Mike Thomas (local District Auditor) promising to look into the situation and see ‘whether there are any issues to consider’ or ‘action to take’.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Letter from District Auditor. 10:42 / 29/5/12:

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email and the attachments. Have you received any further response from the Council with regard to your request under the Freedom of Information Act, or is the attached the latest position?

Yours sincerely

Michael Thomas
District Auditor

And my response – 11:28 / 29/5/12:

Dear Mr Thomas,

No – they haven’t responded to me. But I contacted and spoke to Surjit Tour in a phone call yesterday, after months of trying.

Worryingly, he does not agree that the current situation, that of a former employee, potentially implicated in learning disabled abuse, being at liberty to take up a similar role elsewhere, is threatening or dangerous. [when asked why this process had taken so long] He said the council had ‘been busy’. However, nowhere within the Freedom of Information Act is any allowance made for the size of a data controller’s workload, or its ability to efficiently use its available resources.

He informed me that he would be responding to me ‘by the end of this week’, and to the ICO, following an urgent letter they sent to the council over 6 weeks ago.

I hope this information helps,


Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

The Chief Executive, who was in place when these two officers departed, has been off ill since February 2012 and has now applied for early retirement. The same course was followed by his predecessor (Steve Maddox).

The application will be heard on 7th June 2012. See following Wirral Globe article:


If he does leave, which is now almost certain, he and the two Social Services officers who avoided censure will be completely beyond accountability for the role played in these events.

The public interest appears to have been effectively sidelined.

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

And so inability, incompetence and complicity in abusive practices effectively rewarded.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Come to the next Wirral Council/LGA Improvement Board meeting then and ask your questionshttp://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc… ….

you can go before or after me..

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Thanks for the invite. I’ll do my best to attend. Here is a link to John Brace’s website, which indicates the details of a Conservative amendment, put forward to the Employment and Appointments Committee called on 7th June 2012 to consider the application for early retirement lodged by the now ex-Chief Executive Officer Jim Wilkie. We can see from the detail, that the two senior officers did in fact sign compromise agreements, however on behalf of the compelling public interest I will continue to press the council for a full declaration on ALL points of the above FoI request: 


Paul Cardinleft an annotation ()

Escalated with a senior ICO manager yesterday.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

After urgently notifying him almost a month ago, I received a direct message from @Tkelsey1 (Tim Kelsey) on Twitter this morning, basically telling me I’m barking up the wrong tree. He said I need to take this FoI request to the Head of The Care Quality Commission.

I will do this, but I imagine I’ll be passed around the houses, possibly referred to the ICO, or maybe to the Cabinet Office’s transparency and Open Data guru, Tim Kelsey.

A month on, the threat remains either ignored or deliberately unaddressed.

Peter Harrison left an annotation ()

Looks like Wirral Council have something to hide here!

D. Speers left an annotation ()

“Ever decreasing circles”……who is accountable then? 
Well done on sticking with it! Its not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog GGGGGrrrrr!

Tour, Surjit, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 

Dear Mr Cardin,

Further to our telephone conversation in relation to this matter, I have 
set out below the Council’s response to your Freedom of Information 

I apologise for the delay in responding to you.

My response relates to your request for information contained in your 
email of 11 January 2012. The request was as follows:

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,


Above is a link to a news story published this week in the Wirral Globe, 
which reports the departure “by mutual consent” of two senior officers, 
presumably involved at the very least, in disabled abuse.

This story relates to the findings within the AKA (Anna Klonowski) report, 
and the learning disabled abuse which was admitted to by the Council in 
this document (see 7.1):


Please provide all information you have which is connected to the 
departure of the above two senior members of staff. This will relate to 
meetings, hearings, discussions, and may be stored in the form of recorded 
minutes, verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos, aide 
memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments made 
to the two members of staff in relation to their departure, collectively 
or individually. This will include precise amounts, the method of payment 
and the budget from which the payment was derived.

Please confirm details of the existence of any “compromise agreements” 
signed by the two members of staff. This will include confirmation of any 
‘gagging clauses’ and whether a positive /neutral / negative reference was 
provided regarding potential future employment.

Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations /bodies 
involved in providing legal advice to the two departing officers. Please 
also provide details of meetings which occurred including times, dates and 
matters discussed.

Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either planned or 
leveled against the two officers in relation to the failures which brought 
about their departure from the Council.

If either or both of the two officers were provided with a “clean bill of 
health” regarding their time served at the council, please provide a copy 
of this / these document(s).

Please redact documents as you see fit, and remove the names of two 
departing officers in accordance with the requirements of the Data 
Protection Act

You amended this request on 11 January asking that paragraph 4 be amended 
to the following:

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

With regard to the previous FoI request, please amend paragraph 4. to 
Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments/ 
awards / rewards / bonuses made to the two members of staff in relation to 
their departure or their prior employment, collectively or individually, 
given as part of a “leaving package”. This will include precise amounts, 
the method of payment / award / reward /bonus and the budget from which 
the payment / award / reward /bonus was derived.

I have had regard to the Codes of Practice on the discharge of the 
obligations of public authorities under the Act and to relevant Guidance 
issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’).

I have had due regard to both Section 1 of the Act which provides a 
general right of access to information, and the assumption in favour of 
disclosure of information.

I am writing to give you notice under Section 17(2)(b) of the Freedom of 
Information Act 2000, that the Council considers that the exemption 
contained in Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, applies 
to your request.

The exemption in Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 
provides that:

Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt 
information if:

(a)     it constitutes personal data which do not fall within (1); and

(b)     either the first or second condition is satisfied.

The first condition, is that the disclosure of the information to a member 
of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene:

(i)      any of the data protection principles.

I consider that the first data protection principle would be contravened. 
The first data protection principle provides as follows :- (Schedule 1 of 
the Data Protection Act 1998):

Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, 
shall not be processed unless—


(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and

(b)  …

I consider that none of the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met, 
particularly the sixth condition, which provides that:

The processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests 
pursued by the data controller or by the third party or parties to whom 
the data are disclosed, except where the processing is unwarranted in any 
particular case by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or 
legitimate interests of the data subject.

The unfairness arises, in my view, because the nature of the information 
sought includes personal information that if disclosed could prejudice the 
individuals in question, particularly the legitimate employment prospects 
and opportunities that the individuals may wish to pursue. Irrespective of 
the circumstances surrounding this matter, the individuals have legal 
rights and interests (given the provisions of the legislation referred to 
above) that the Council must consider and have particular regard to. I 
consider such matters to outweigh the legitimate interests pursued by 
third parties. This exemption under Section 40(2) of the 2000 Act is an 
absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.

Accordingly, I am unable to disclose the information requested for the 
reasons set out above.

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 
to ask for an internal review in respect of the refusal of your request 
and of the use of the exemptions under Sections 41 and 22 of  the Act. Any 
request for an internal review should be sent to Mr Bill Norman, Director 
of Law, HR and Asset Management, Wirral Borough Council, Town Hall, 
Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED, email [email address]

If you are dissatisfied with the Council’s response you also have the 
right to complain to the Information Commissioner, whose address is the 
Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House 
Water Lane 
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45 
Fax: 01625 524510

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

This response does not answer specific parts of your request but applies a blanket response rather than looking to answer its composite parts. 

I think relying on the data protection act to deny answering the bulk of your points is a blunt tool and does not apply to the many of the individual parts of the request. 

Structuring the request into its parts may yield better results or passing it back to the ICO to get an appropriate response. 

The wait of 26 weeks for it to be bluntly refused is outrageous.

Paul Cardin 

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘DASS – Recent Departure of Two Senior Officers’.

I disagree with and challenge your attempt to engage Section 40(2) of the Act for the following reasons:

I don’t believe that any of the information I have requested risks either identifying the two individuals or prejudicing / damaging their employment rights or future prospects. My request remains the same and I therefore ask that you review it as it stands.

May I remind you that I specifically asked you in January to redact any information which might risk identifying the two officers, such as names. This was done to avoid you trying to engage Section 40(2).

You appear to have placed the employment rights of two senior officers who are widely believed to have been deeply involved in carrying out years of abuse of learning disabled people above the rights of disabled people themselves.

There is a growing risk here, since one of the officers began seeking another job via the LinkedIn website, that vulnerable people may be placed at risk of abuse if a new employer unwittingly takes on one of these people (both are highly qualified individuals).

When accountability for these two officers was bypassed by Wirral Council, and we’ve since had it confirmed by Councillor Jeff Green that compromise agreements with gagging clauses were issued and signed, anybody could have regarded this kind of threatening outcome as forseeable and avoidable. However this danger doesn’t seem to have occurred to Wirral Council. Indeed every action on the part of the Council in relation to this situation seems to have encouraged or even enabled, unwittingly or not, the risk of further abuse to appear once again.

Now that they’ve both been gagged, I regard the risk of one of these people becoming employed where they are at liberty to abuse as a likely one, and far more compelling and in need of addressing than your overriding wish to protect their job prospects. Indeed I find it difficult to comprehend the ongoing loyalty and protection you are prepared to extend to a couple of ex employees. I am also baffled as to why their employment fortunes are placed ahead of the safety and wellbeing of any number of vulnerable / disabled people who may be placed at risk due to a resounding failure to protect them.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: 

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Flashing Blade left an annotation ()

This reminds me of Chloe Smith on Newsnight last night. 

How much public money where these people given. There, that make it simple ?

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

There is now a very disappointing response in from the Information Commissioner’s Office. My current conclusion is that employees’ privacy trumps the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable / disabled / elderly people: 

12th July 2012 

Case Reference Number FS50438500 

Dear Mr Cardin 

I am writing to you concerning 2 complaints which you have made to the Information Commissioner regarding Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council. 

FS50416628 – Your request for information on the records of senior officer’s personal interests which are held by the council 

FS50438500 – Your request for information on two senior council officers Council who left their posts by mutual consent following the findings of the AKA report 

Both of these cases have now been allocated to me to investigate. 

As regards FS50416628 I have written a decision notice which is currently with the signatory for consideration. 

As regards FS50438500 I note from the wdtk website that the council has now responded to your request, albeit by repeating its initial response to you of February 2012. 

Having looked at this request I have to say that I do not believe that you will be able to obtain this information from the council. If your assumptions are correct then the information relates to potential disciplinary matters. At the least it relates to employment matters relating to the two individuals, and how it came about that they left their positions with the council. This is, for the most part, a private matter between the council and the individuals’ concerned. I will explain further. 

I have noted that concerns have been raised about the possibility of compromise agreements being paid out by the council. You have also suggested that the timing of the individuals’ departure has left questions about their reasons for leaving their posts and whether this relates to the Anna Klonowski Report findings. I note that questions surrounding their departure have also been asked in the media. 

You have said to the council that you are happy for it to anonymise the information before disclosing it to you. It seems likely however that a motivated individual could obtain that information by various means should they decide to do so. My initial research also suggests that it is fairly widely assumed who the two individuals are and that these assumptions are available on the internet. I also note your further comment to the council that one of the individuals concerned has now advertised on “Linked in”. Clearly therefore you already know, or have assumed who this person is, and so any redaction of identity alone would not be sufficient to anonymise the information (presuming that your assumption is correct). Given this I do not believe that the council can anonymise the information by merely redacting the names or the job roles of the individuals concerned. 

This means that the information would be personal data for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 and that the data protection principles would apply to the disclosure which you are asking the council to make. 

Where personal data is under consideration the first data protection principle requires that the disclosure of the information is ‘fair and lawful’. In general this relates to whether the individual would expect information about them to be disclosed. In the case of a disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act this would be an expectation that information about them might be disclosed to ‘any member of the public’. This is because a disclosure under the Act is considered to be global rather than just to the applicant. When making this decision the Commissioner can consider whether any of the other circumstances of the case would make a disclosure of the information fair. 

The Commissioner therefore needs to consider whether the individuals would expect that detailed information about the circumstances which led them to leaving their positions within the council would be disclosed to any member of the public. If that is not the case I must consider whether the circumstances of the case would make that fair in any event. 

The first thing to consider is that, in general, employers are under an implied duty of confidence to keep personal information on their personnel confidential. Assuming that your presumptions are correct, this information may relate to the individuals disciplinary history or records. The First-tier Tribunal has provided strong guidance in relation to the disclosure of employees’ disciplinary files. In many cases in the past they have found that it would be unfair to disclose such information. For instance I would draw your attention to the Tribunals decision in Waugh v ICO & Doncaster College (EA/2008/0038) available at 


Similarly, in Lord Dunboyne v IC (EA/2011/0261 & EA/2011/0303) the Tribunal stated that: 

“The Tribunal has – and will continue to – recognise the strong expectation of staff members that disciplinary matters are personal and to be kept private.” 

This is of course working to an assumption which you raised that their reasons for leaving relate directly to the findings in the Anna Klonowski Report. That is not a proven fact however and you recognise this within your request for information. The alternative is that the individuals left for entirely other, unrelated reasons. If that is the case there appears to be a lesser argument for the employees’ expectations of privacy to be overridden. A disclosure of the information under those circumstances would therefore be even less likely to be ‘fair’. 

Presuming that your assumption is correct, the wider issues surrounding this case can be taken into account in balancing whether a disclosure of the information would be fair. In some circumstances the legitimate interests of the public in having access to particular information can make a disclosure fair in spite of an individual’s general expectations that that information would not be disclosed. The arguments for this do need to be strong however due to the strong counter arguments supporting the privacy of the individuals. 

It is suggested that these individuals are relatively senior council officers. This can also be taken into account in the balance. In essence, where a senior officer is concerned they should have a greater expectation that a disclosure of information about their actions may be necessary in order for the authority to be transparent and accountable to the public. This extends to any severance payments that the council made to them given that this would be paid from public funds. These are not of themselves overriding factors however and the decision still needs to be balanced and based upon all of the circumstances of the case. 

However I must also bear in mind that the information that you requested does not specifically relate to the council’s actions or inactions which led to the Anna Klonowski report findings. You have asked for detailed information about the individuals leaving their posts. The information therefore relates more to the private lives of those individuals rather than to the council’s accountability. 

Details of the council’s response and the actions it has taken following the report would attract a much stronger public interest argument towards disclosure. The release of the Anna Klonowski report has to some extent already opened the council’s actions to scrutiny, however there is a public interest in the disclosure of the actions it has taken in response to that report so that the public can be reassured that this will not occur again. The issue is where this impinges on personal privacy. 

Although the council needs to be transparent and accountable for its actions, it also needs to comply with its legal obligations as regards the privacy of the individuals concerned. The information you have asked for goes to the heart of the individuals’ personnel matters with their employer. In effect, your request was widely drawn and encompasses the entire personnel process which led to the individuals’ leaving their posts at the council. As a result, any disclosure would be much more intrusive into the private lives of the individuals concerned. 

I note your argument that one of the individuals concerned now appears to be advertising on Linked In’ however this not an issue which we are able to consider as relevant to the disclosure of the information that you have asked for in this case. 

Balancing the above, I do not believe that a strong enough case can be made for the disclosure of the information to be ‘fair’ to the individuals concerned. In the terms of the Data Protection Act, the legitimate interests of the public in having access to that information do not override the fact that a disclosure would be an unwarranted intrusion into their private lives and affairs. 

I realise that you will be disappointed that you are not able to obtain all of the information which you have asked for. Whilst I accept that if your analysis is correct there are certainly legitimate public interest arguments for some information to be disclosed, there are however also very strong arguments for information relating to an individual’s performance, personal privacy and their personal, private dealings with their employer which counterbalance, and override these interests in this case. 

Having said this, there may be a stronger case for the council to disclose any severance payments which it has made. The Accounts and Audit (Amendment No. 2) (England) Regulations 2009 require local authorities to publish severance payments for staff earning over £50,000, and in respect of those earning over £150,000, to publish both the amount and the name of the individual. I have therefore written to the council and asked it to let me know whether it is obliged by these regulations to publish any amounts paid to the individuals as severance payments, and if so, when it intends to make this information available. I will write to you again regarding this once I have received the council’s response. 

Yours sincerely

[name of public servant removed] 
Senior Case Officer

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

12th July 2012

Case Reference Number FS50438500

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for speaking to me on the telephone this morning. 

Following our discussion I am writing to confirm that, as requested, I will continue with our investigation and produce a decision notice on this case.

I hope that this is helpful to you. 

Yours sincerely

[name of public servant removed]
Senior Case Officer

Pete Sheffield left an annotation ()

It may be that both the officers that you requested the information about.. have been having a look on your LinkedIn profile. Maybe you could ask them direct?

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

“It may be that both the officers that you requested the information about.. have been having a look on your LinkedIn profile. Maybe you could ask them direct?” 

The officers as two individuals are under no obligation to respond as they aren’t covered by the FOIA legislation as they’ve left the employment of Wirral Council. 

The issue was brought up by the Tories during the former Chief Executive/Head of Paid Service’s early retirement.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

A detailed running commentary on this situation is being kept here:


Paul Cardinleft an annotation ()

Following email received from the ICO case officer: 

30th August 2012 

Case Reference Number FS50438500 

Dear Mr Cardin 

Thank you for your email. I have been waiting for a copy of the withheld information from Wirral Council. I received a response on 21 August 2012 and am therefore currently drafting a decision notice on your complaint. 

I hope that this is helpful to you. 

Yours sincerely 

Senior Case Officer 

….Wirral Council had him waiting around a month. I’m hopeful there may be a decision notice on this, arriving next week.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

14th September and still nothing from the ICO. I await their decision notice before I consider my next move in the process. 

On a related issue, Angela Eagle MP and Mike Smith of the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be looking into instances of disability discrimination committed by Wirral Council.

Paul Cardinleft an annotation ()

I’ve received this email from the ICO, dated 19th September 2012: 

Case Reference Number FS50438500 

Dear Mr Cardin 

Thank you for your emails regarding your complaint about Wirral Council. I’m sorry I missed your call today. 

As an update, I have just completed the draft of your decision notice today. From this point the notice will go into a validation process which can sometimes take a number of weeks. Notices can sometimes be issued faster than this however it is dependent upon the workload of the signatory, the complexity of the notice and whether the notice needs to go through a review by the Commissioner’s policy department. It is therefore possible that the notice will be issued shortly however I am not able to specifically confirm that that will be the case. 

I’m sorry that you have not received the notice earlier than this however decision notices are legal documents and therefore require careful thought and analysis. They can therefore take some time to complete as we need to be sure that we are fully aware of all the facts and that we apply the law carefully to those facts. 

As regards the response to your earlier emails we try to respond to all requests for updates on complaints within 14 days. I hope that this is helpful to you. 

Yours sincerely, 

[Officer name redacted] 

Senior Case Officer

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

“and therefore require careful thought and analysis.” 

So, don’t worry Wirral Council ICO can do your thinking for you! 😉

Chris left an annotation ()

I have been a victim of WBC corruption – the senior 2 officers mentioned have had a murky past, working for DASS. Their delaying tactics, to suppress the truth coming out & reaching the public, is well known and understood. They try thier best to preserve their insular policy to keep their suspicious dealings and conduct within. 


ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

” They try thier best to preserve their insular policy to keep their suspicious dealings and conduct within” and away from their line managers, their managers, the politicians, the press and the public.

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 

Thank you for your further correspondence below, further to this Wirral 
Council can confirm the following information in respect of your enquiry.

The Positions and salaries of the senior officers referred to, Head of 
Support Services   Finance Department and Assistant Director, Head of 
Wellbeing department of adult social services.

Both their salaries were 73,352

I trust you find the information of use and I have copied the ICO in on 
this reply, kind regards.

Tracy O’Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

Paul Cardin 

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I never asked for the positions and I never asked for the salaries of these two alleged abusers. Please re-read what has gone before and provide the information I have requested.

What’s important here is that no other vulnerable and disabled people become victims to abuse. Your ability to answer this request may play a small part in preventing this from occurring again,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

You’d think Wirral Council worked to Chatham House rules, by their reluctance to release names two of their former senior employees!

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Re-read the request and you’ll find you later amended the request and changed paragraph 4 to request the information (some of which) they’ve now released.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Long way to go yet.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Quote… “…given as part of a leaving package.”

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I made this request and I KNOW precisely what I’m after here. The council haven’t provided a single thing I’ve asked for yet… not one.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Interesting use of language and interpretation of request! 
Defies belief! Well done on tenacity!

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 

Good Morning,

With regard to your complaint with the ICO, please find below the 
information the Council can disclose to you; this relates to the 2 
payments made by the Council.  

There was a total payment made in each case which was severance pay + 
notice + 3 months pay.

Head of Support Services   Finance Department

109,496.45 which compromised:

74,276.52 (Severance)

16,881.93 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)

18,338.00 (3 months salary)

Assistant Director, Head of Wellbeing DASS

111, 042.95 which compromosed

75,823.95 (Severance)

16,881 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)

18,338 (3 months salary)

 The Council remains of the opinion that other information requested is 
exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains 
Personal Data.  The council considers that it would be unfair on the 
individuals concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would 
be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998. 

I have copied the ICO into this response.

Kind Regards

Jane Corrin

Information Manager

Wirral Council

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

OMG ~ I had to squeeze that out of my public servants didn’t I? Wirral Council’s failure to discipline these two, and Wirral Council’s enabling of further abuse (by concealing and protecting the damning details inside a legal document) means these two people, if employed in the care sector again, remain a threat to any number of vulnerable and disabled people.

Flashing Blade left an annotation ()

And everyone on the Wirral knows who they are

Helen Hale left an annotation ()

So to summarise… the two officers (who the majority of Wirral residents know the name of) were initially suspended, then cleared of any wrong doing and allowed to return to work, then found to be guilty after all and paid off with £220k of OUR money, and given free reign to do the same elsewhere?

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Yes. And Council Leader and liar (see hereherehereherehere, and here) Phil Davies chaired the meeting which absolved them of responsibility for abuse of learning disabled people following a sham investigation initially. He also voted to allow the council leader Wilkie, who presided over all this to depart with a big pay off in June this year – after making public proclamations about ‘getting to the bottom of all this’ – which he never ever did.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Is it the employees involved leaving you have a problem with Paul Cardin or the fact that they were given a “golden goodbye”? 

One could make a public interest argument that it’s better to have different people than keep the same people making the same mistakes? After all better to pay a few thousands now to show them the door than £millions later?

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Scarlet Pimp, if u don’t know what’s motivating me after reading the above…. You’ll never know. Haha

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

As explained previously the names of the DASS employees have been made public and some of Wirral Council is embarrassed by the whole matter. Let’s face it Cllr Foulkes is no longer Leader as a result of how this went and some Labour councillors got less in allowances as a result! 

These two people were management. They are no longer employees at Wirral Council, yet you seem to want Wirral Council to reveal information they’ll fight tooth and nail not to reveal. You know as well as I do they will take this all the way to ICO and then drag their heels some more. 

No, Wirral Council plays the FOI game too well, only accountability anyone will ever get is either a public inquiry or court cases or both and by court cases I mean criminal ones and civil ones… but I’ve meddled enough.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

This is unaddressed abuse, enabled for the future within a legal document. Loud and clear. 

The difference between you and me Scarlet Pimp is I’m not so easily pleased. 

I don’t regard “embarrassment” or a change of leader or the deduction of a trifling amount of small change from some councillors as a reckoning. Far from it. 

This was disgusting, outlandish, atrocious and contemptible abuse, carried on in a calculated manner over many years, backed up by bullying and harassment. You know all the sordid details. 

I have absolutely no political ambitions, so I tend to fire straight from the hip. Whereas some campaigns are suspect, because they’re partly ‘on message’, somewhat compromised, not wanting to rock the boat too much, not wanting to damage the status quo, and by extension their own future prospects. Such powderpuff antics tend to pull their punches and settle for a whole lot less.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Carry on Paul, 
You seek accountability and evidence of lessons learned….and Wirral are still fish wrestling! I admire your tenacity and really cant understand the “draw a line” attitude. People who were bullied cant just draw a line that easily! There was corruption here which was eye watering and accountability must result. 
All best wishes 

John Hannigan (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

They seek him here they seek him there
They seek the S P everywhere
Mr. Cardin who is this Scarlett pimpernal 
If he thinks Wirral Adult SS were evil and rotten years ago, then wait for the outing of Wirral Childrens SS of today 2012.
These people are worst then ever, all our children of Wirral could soon be suffering and become victims of their vile corruption cover-ups and incompetence.
This is about vunerable childrens actual lives Paul not just abuse.
Let Scarlett investigate and comment on the real evil that is Wirral SS of 2012 not years ago.
You all might have stopped the abuse of adults whilst unwittingly missing the Children’s plight of today. They need your help NOW!!!!!!

****NOTE*** As forecast by John Hannigan, Wirral Council Children’s Services later plunged into the mire, went through a public scandal, underwent a serious case review which was rendered SECRET, and was inspected by  OFSTED and deemed INADEQUATE. A number of senior officers and councillors were forced to fall on their swords.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

“The difference between you and me Scarlet Pimp is I’m not so easily pleased. ” 

Well put it this way, when you’ve seen violence used against your family and you’ve been made a political prisoner on trumped up allegations (and seen the same done to close family) you may realise that the prejudice towards those with a disability is so deeply entrenched in the public sector on Merseyside that it’s difficult to know where to start to change it. 

“I don’t regard “embarrassment” or a change of leader or the deduction of a trifling amount of small change from some councillors as a reckoning. Far from it. ” 

Leaders set the culture of an organisation, a culture developed amongst the political class that allowed this to happen on a rationale I find hard to put into writing. Even after some councillors were retrained they carried on with abuses of power and showing their prejudices as clear as day in plain sight. Some display attitudes at times that are so old-fashioned I wonder if I’ve gone back in time. 

“This was disgusting, outlandish, atrocious and contemptible abuse, carried on in a calculated manner over many years, backed up by bullying and harassment. You know all the sordid details. ” 

Sadly, due to the way I’ve been treated (which is in no way meant to minimise the way others have been treated), I seem to be heading inexorably down a path that leads to somewhat problematic personal consequences. 

“I have absolutely no political ambitions, so I tend to fire straight from the hip. Whereas some campaigns are suspect, because they’re partly ‘on message’, somewhat compromised, not wanting to rock the boat too much, not wanting to damage the status quo, and by extension their own future prospects. Such powderpuff antics tend to pull their punches and settle for a whole lot less.” 

Such ideological crusades you are entitled to persue if you so wish, but I went “off message” a long, long time ago, maybe the message to me even got lost in the post. As to powderpuff antics, I haven’t used powderpuff since my days on the stage at the Glenda Jackson theatre, but then this whole sorry saga does have its share of drama queens, who have done their best to shed crocodile tears and blame others when the finger of blame is pointed at them.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here is a link to an article, setting out what I feel is the background and true motivation behind Wirral Council’s very poor response times. 

Notably, there are just 2 people dedicated to Freedom of Information and Data at this council (one professional and one admin assistant) – which says it all really. 


Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

June 2018. 
As predicted, both of these proven abusers have secured senior roles in “caring” positions. 

Mike Fowler at the charity Brook Young People 


Maura Noone as Head of Adult Social Care at Reading Council 


Despite Council, ICO and tribunal assurances, a dangerous safeguarding emergency is indeed now unfolding at Reading Council. 

Both councils have blocked me on Twitter.

Update on 23rd January 2021

From 8 years ago today…in the Wirral News.

Posted in General | 17 Comments

“Most Improved” Wirral LABOUR Council are spreading a pack of lies across the careers market, in their search for a new Legal Director

A friend kindly forwarded the following advert to us, spotted recently on the www.local.gov.uk website. 


15-1-2017 - Wirral Council ad for legal director monitoring officer


  1. “Most Improved Council”.  This was awarded by the media publication arm of the body that acts as the “Trade Union” for local authorities such as Wirral Council, namely, the Local Government Chronicle and the Local Government Association respectively.  So…  when untrustworthy organisations such as these award their paying members (with our cash) worthlesss little badges, proclaiming bogus leaps of progress or wonderful, but in reality, worthless, phantom achievements, we can safely ignore it.  This award occurred 3 years ago.  Since then, it’s been repeatedly overwritten and drowned out by scandal upon scandal – such as the independent OFSTED investigation’s “INADEQUATE” for Children’s Services and the (conveniently secret) Serious Case Review for the Rajenthiram brothers child abuse case.  Despite these failures being overlaid across the top, the term “Most Improved Council” is still emblazoned shamelessly and dishonestly across every email, letter, and JOB ADVERT, (see above) jostling for our attention.

  2. “A Progressive and Driven Partnership Galvanizer”.  No comment, apart from ….WTAF?  The lurch to impenetrable jargon continues apace, and remains a surefire indicator of an organisation with its collective, away with the fairies head rammed firmly up its collective, tight as a duck’s arse sphincter.

  3. “Create a Legacy for Yourself in the Process”.  Here is another  clear insight into the whacky, out of kilter motivations of this basket case.  Forget old fashioned service to the public.  At Wirral, they do things differently.  You can shove all that public service bollocks to one side, and strike out on your own, in your own selfish interest, carving out your own miserable ‘legacy’.  And we’re here to shield and sustain you in that, and to passionately wave some palm fronds and beat the path ahead of you in your honour as you proceed…

  4. Transformation.  Do you get it?  Does anybody get it?  It’s another chuckaway term that despite forensic analysis, remains utterly meaningless.  Transformation to what?  Transformation from what?  It echoes the deep insincerity of that old chestnut, ‘moving forward”.  Moving forward from what?  Moving forward to WHAT?  The next scandal in the pipeline?



The skills and qualities you will actually require…

  1. The ability to attend court, molest a bible and bust a religious oath
  2. The ability to ‘forget’ inconvenient truths, and instead, to only recall events or details that are advantageous to oneself and the corrupted body corporate
  3. The ability to take copious notes every single day as part of your council role, as they will be required in order to successfully achieve 1 and 2 above
  4. The ability to state in court that you were not actually taking notes on ‘that particular day’, because such an admission would have the effect of damaging one’s chances of winning the case and endangering the reputation of oneself and the body corporate
  5. Er…
  6. 7. 8. 9.  …………….Lots more, but I don’t want to bore you.  You get the picture…       

10. That’s it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Discretionary Housing Payments. Wirral Council foreseeably and avoidably broke the law for 18 months

06 12 2017 DHP redacted

Links to previous Discretionary Housing Payments posts:

  1. FOI Request to Wirral Council ~ Discretionary Housing Payments
  2. UPDATE: Leaked Wirral Council email: Discretionary Housing Payments Unlawful for 18 Months
  3. “Most Improved” Wirral Council. Breaking the law on Discretionary Housing Payments – and now an FOI failure – have vulnerable families been evicted?
  4. Wirral Council Fails to Withhold Crucial Discretionary Housing Payments Report
  5. Information Commissioner Publishes Discretionary Housing Payments Decision Notice

We’ve reached the next crucial stage in this long-running FOI request that was originally made in February of this year.

Tellingly, last month, the Information Commissioner disagreed with Wirral Council and forced it to reveal information which it had previously withheld under a Section 31 exemption.

We’d disagreed with the council’s position right from the outset, and had asked for an internal review.  When this failed to prise them open, we appealed to the Information Commissioner.  Here is a link to the ICO’s subsequent Decision Notice which painstakingly listed the reasons why Section 31 was not fundamentally relevant in this case.


This starts with a determination giving the council 30 days to release the information to the public or potentially have themselves referred to the High Court.

The Council responded ‘at the last minute’ – yesterday – with three separate and fairly extensive pieces of information, although much of it has been obliterated behind large, black rectangles.

Here is a link to the council’s response on the WhatDoTheyKnow website:


Due to the amount of information contained, we will not be analysing this just yet.  That will come in a future post.  But we know readers will be keen to see the information for themselves, set out in a readable format.


Here are the three responses in .jpg format, with links to the .pdf documents below:

Response 1

05 12 2017 - DHP - redactedLADLFeb 17 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response

Download here:



Response 2

05 12 2017 - DHP - redacted Oct 16 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response2

Download here:



Response 3

05 12 2017 - DHP - redacted May 16 - Discretionary Housing Payments - response3

Download here:



Next, we’ll be comparing Wirral’s responses above with the advice laid out in the ICO’s #FS50684466 decision notice in order to clarify whether the data controller had the scope to obliterate so much of the information… including what looks like the investigation reports’ cover pages, titles and original dates of issue.

Once this is done we will update readers of this blog and make a decision on whether to appeal the case to the First Tier Information Tribunal after checking the lay of the land with the Information Commissioner.


Posted in Discretionary Housing Payments, FoI Requests | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Information Commissioner Publishes Discretionary Housing Payments Decision Notice

Wirral ICO decision notice FS50684466

Here is the link to this decision notice.


Following allegations of Wirral Council’s abuse of vulnerable benefit claimants, DHP audit failure and an ongoing breach of statutory law, this was a successful Freedom of Information request we placed with the Council on 9th February 2017.


The ICO found in our favour and Wirral Council have been given 35 days (early December) to furnish the requested information or potentially have the matter referred to the High Court.

The following four links provide the complete background of this case:


  1. FOI Request to Wirral Council.  Discretionary Housing Payments
  2. UPDATE: Leaked Wirral Council email: Discretionary Housing Payments Unlawful for 18 Months
  3. “Most Improved” Wirral Council. Breaking the law on Discretionary Housing Payments – and now an FOI failure – have vulnerable families been evicted?
  4. Wirral Council Fails to Withhold Crucial Discretionary Housing Payments Report


Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Wirral Labour Party Ex-Councillor and “Britain First” Admirer Receives Suspended Sentence for Making a Death Threat


Crabtree (Jumbo) receives words of encouragement and support from party backer, colleague, one-time council leader, and later Mayor, Councillor Steve Foulkes

11th January 2017

Following this afternoon’s trial at Birkenhead Magistrates Court, former Wirral Labour Councillor

Jim Crabtree was given a 12 week prison sentence suspended for a year.


Crabtree appeared on one count of sending “a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” to his former party colleague Councillor Louise Reecejones on 16th June 2016. He also received a restraining order banning him from contacting her.

For context – and crucial to the case – is the date of the offence i.e. 16th June 2016 – the same day Jo Cox MP was murdered, stabbed 15 times and shot 3 times, in the street, in her constituency of Batley and Spen.

Her killer, Thomas Mair, had shouted “Britain first” as he carried out the attack before calmly walking away from the scene. Mair was jailed for life in November 2016.

The wording of the message Crabtree sent is chilling:

“You need to pay back the £19,000 bitch, or I will do what happened to that MP today.”

A possible indication of Crabtree’s motivations appears in his Facebook account, details of which don’t appear to have been considered by the court today.

As we can see from the following screenshots, complete with dubious quotations, Crabtree, like Thomas Mair before him, appears to be either a supporter or an apparent sympathiser with the aims of this right wing group.crabtree-facebook2

Leaving aside the disturbing notion that a one-time Labour councillor may have held far-right sympathies, this suspended sentence has implications for current Wirral Council leader Phil Davies – particularly given his and his colleagues’ long term failure to apply any disciplinary restraint upon Councillor Crabtree, who served as a prominent member of Wirral’s “Inner Ring” of Labour councillors – yet at the same time appeared to be a maverick and ‘beyond control’.

Davies had also forced through changes to committee structures following Labour’s / Crabtree’s success in the local elections of May 2012, allowing Labour members to increase their showing, to dominate as chairs and to outnumber their opponents in all the key Wirral Council member committees.crabtree-facebook4

This calculated action – coupled presumably with Phil Davies’ consent – permitted Crabtree to become Chair of the council’s most prominent, high profile body, the Audit and Risk Management Committee in 2013, the low point of which was his chairing of the ARMC meeting of 8th October 2014.

But even before the incident of June 2016, Crabtree had frequently displayed grudging disdain for rules right across the board, be they party, Town Hall, central government or data related, and appeared contemptuous of having to be bound by them.

As the people of Bidston & St James ward were all too familiar, Councillor Crabtree – ‘a man of good character’ – so the court was told, was regularly courting trouble even before this incident.

His conduct both within the council chamber and without keyed in with an apparent unhealthy disregard for the need for calm, respectful, businesslike behaviour in the service of the public.

In other walks of life a tendency to rebel against officialdom might be seen as an admirable trait, but with Councillor Crabtree, the public looked on in horror as his shabby ongoing conduct was either passively endorsed by his seniors’ failure to act … or actively rewarded with swift promotion through the ranks.crabtree-facebook1

There was a clear distinction with Crabtree that was very revealing.  All his apparent grievances and rebellious motivations appeared grounded either in self-interest or in his own self-promotion, rather than any burning desire to help others.

This worked for him personally because up until his alleged deselection in May 2015, despite his atrocious behaviour and the widespread public misgivings, he was never pulled up.

So on he went, queuing behind the rest to be freely bestowed with the trappings of public office by his own party’s protectors and power brokers, Councillor Steve Foulkes, Councillor George Davies, and the current leader, Councillor Phil Davies, with the entire circus dancing and cowering by turns beneath the whip hand of ringmaster and controller Frank Field MP. 

Crabtree’s frequent rewards for foul conduct may even have been carried out cynically to deliberately rub salt into the wounds of Labour’s alleged political opponents on the benches opposite.  In fact it’s inadvisable here on Wirral to try to conceive of any other motivation.

This Wirral Leaks article describes how – quite disgracefully – Crabtree was selected to represent Wirral Council by attending a royal garden party on the invitation of the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the spring of 2016. It’s not known whether he made it to London or not.crabtree-facebook3

As hindsight kicks in, which it now must, Crabtree’s one-time controllers and reckless promoters may well be doing a swift double-take and trying to outdo their colleagues by jockeying for position as – whaddya know -‘architects of Crabtree’s downfall all along’.

Whereas in truth, they’re more likely to be regretting how they’d sat on their hands for many years, allowing Crabtree carte blanche to fill his boots, and full scope to get away with …

  • The troubling contents of his Facebook page with open support for Britain First – not punished
  • The derision he dished out towards politically engaged members of the public – Link 1 below – not punished
  • His selfish exploitation of defenceless, special needs children for party gain – Link 2 below – not punished
  • His reckless, abusive behaviour in public – Link 3 below – not punished


Link 1 – 62 Wirral Councillors now registered with the ICO – but you are paying


Woeful email sent to this writer in October 2012 – followed by ALL 66 Wirral Councillors being forced to register as data controllers under the Data Protection Act 1998

Link 2 – Rotten to the Core


Wirral Council makes Private Eye Rotten Boroughs yet again

Link 3 – Don’t Stand by, Stand Up!


And finally…


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

BIG Fund – The Wirral Council Leader’s Dishonesty Becomes Compounded

21st December 2016

See 10:47 onwards. Item 5 on the agenda.

Thanks go to John Brace for filming the event and providing the footage. Also deserving of praise is Nigel Hobro who attended to ask a very pertinent question regarding BIG fund grant recipients who went bust –

See here, herehere and here for the recent build-up to this.

This was a question which had to be submitted several days earlier to allow the leader to prepare his li(n)es.  Mr Hobro asked a supplementary question which Phil Davies ‘completely refuted the premise of’ before promising to respond by letter in greater detail.

It looks like the council leader lied through his teeth once again on this video.

The personal and corporate dishonesty is now becoming compounded.

Why would we make such a serious charge? Because although we can’t see his face, the leader can be heard taking the opportunity to move the goalposts in response to the question and in order to suit his own devious ends.

As we can see at the following link, there was absolutely no mention in Phil Davies’ Media Statement dated 1st July 2013 that the contents were confined to just 5 companies.

These 5 businesses were simply NOT SPECIFIED in the statement.

As is plainly obvious, the Phil Davies’ Media Statement was seized upon as an opportunity to ‘blow the trumpet’ for the council and on its officers’ behalf, to draw a line under it, and to clear them of any dishonesty or malpractice.

However the statement took careful and calculated steps to make it very clear that it was referring globally and in the round to the BIG fund in its entirety i.e. ALL BIG fund recipients:


Here’s the pertinent bit that they even underlined and put in large font to assist us:


So… the council leader is bringing the whole council into disrepute through his refusal / inability to put an honest sentence together.  He is dragging any up ’til now non-implicated colleagues along with him by seeking their support and approval publicly.

Genuinely sordid stuff.

The official Wirral Council public position now would NOT stand up in court. After 5 minutes digging, the lies would be laid bare and Councillor Phil Davies would potentially be charged and found guilty of perjury.

And the idea that fellow conspirator Councillor Adrian Jones never showed the Timmins Report to his leader, Councillor Phil Davies – the one controlling the show, issuing false statements and trotting out lies in public – is just laughable.

So with this in mind, when will Davies take the honourable (lol, we know) course of action, resign his position, give some honest, good faith people a fair crack of the whip, depart gutter politics once and for all and allow the dirty cloud of corruption and malpractice that descended over Wirral decades ago to finally lift and clear?

Questions transcribed






Posted in BIG Fund Scandal | 45 Comments

Scandal-torn Wirral Council, has no “External Investigations Policy”.

4th October 2013

Some unsettling news arrived today, tucked away in an email from the Information Commissioner’s Office.  This revelation concerns a Freedom of Information request placed 16 months ago, way back in May 2012.  Wirral Council and the ICO have corresponded on it recently…


4 October 2013

Case Reference Number: FS50496446

Dear Mr Cardin
Your information request to Wirral Borough Council (council) dated 12 May 2012.
I write further to my letter dated 23 August 2013 regarding your complaint about how the council dealt with your request for information of 12 May 2012. You advised that you were not satisfied with the response to question 5 of your information request, which is part of your full request made on the whatdotheyknow.com website at the following link:


I advised I would write to the council in relation to question 5, in which I asked them to revisit the question and reconsider their response.

The council have now reconsidered its response and advised me that there is no council policy for external or independent investigations and has carried out searches on its system and checked this with the Chief Internal Auditor.

The council conclude that the response it gave you to question 5 should have been that it does not hold the requested information.
With this in mind I ask whether this concludes the request in respect to question 5. If you are content with the steps now taken by the authority, you do not need to take any further action and I will assume that you have withdrawn your complaint. However, if you would like the Commissioner to conclude the case through issuing a decision notice regarding the breach in time for compliance, or if you remain dissatisfied with the steps taken, please advise me within 10 working days, namely by 18 October 2013.
If I do not hear from you in this timeframe, the case will be closed.
Yours sincerely
Christopher Kay

The original Freedom of Information request is here.  See the response to point 5:


This, along with the emails reproduced at the end of this post, gives some insight into how for many months, I was given the runaround, sent up a blind alley, and packed off on a wild goose chase; all, I believe, in a futile attempt to frustrate and confound.

This involved Jane Corrin, Information Manager, sending me links which were supposed to furnish a copy of a non-existent Independent Investigations Policy and Procedure, which predictably came up with nothing at all.  How astonishingly cynical.  As you can read in the ICO email above, after laying down a false trail for so long, they were eventually forced to search their own systems, and surprise, surprise, came up with nothing.

It took almost a year and a half for the above ICO email to arrive – and still, the regulator appears to have breezed past and glossed over how I was given the runaround for 16 months.  The important part is reproduced in underlined bold black, and shows how the council eventually did a kind of double-take, deciding to “realise” they didn’t hold the information.

The external Investigations Policy / Procedure just didn’t exist, and I’m assuming it never has.

So the result is…  another vacuum that lets in abuse.  How will the LGA ‘Improvement’ board react to this?  Those highly paid consultants who’ve spent many months congratulating the council and each other.  What will they now do about a scandal-bound, abusive council spending untold hundreds of thousands of pounds of council tax payers’ money on external investigations which were never truly independent and are now rendered invalid?

In the normal world, occupied by well-run, competent and businesslike local authorities, the investigating party would need to be carefully vetted to ensure that they have absolutely no prior / current connections or affiliations with the investigated party – and no opportunity to feather their own nest during their deliberations or reach a biased outcome.  This would be achieved through specific declarations given before the outset.  It’s a valuable and necessary form of safeguarding, done in the wider public interest.

So let’s analyse 3 recent examples of Wirral Council’s externally commissioned investigations, all declared by the council as ‘independent’:

1.  Anna Klonowski Associates.

Brought in by Wirral’s Tories on 12th July 2010, who at that time, along with the Lib Dems, held the balance of power at the Town Hall.  Actually mentioned in plain sight at the above link is a prior connection between Wirral Council and AKA.

Due to this association with the council, which started a few years before, and involved the provision of governance training to senior officers and councillors, the investigator stood to either gain or lose from any given outcome.  This loose remit placed AKA as the party calling the shots, and in a position which gave them the potential to manipulate an outcome suitable to the organisation, Anna Klonowski Associates.  I’m not saying this happened, but it could have done so easily – because of sloppy oversight and the fact that there were no visible safeguards put in place.

And as history tells us, Klonowski’s investigation stopped short of looking into not just Balls Road (and other locations’ unlawful charging), which would have sent the levels of financial abuse rocketing (she said she ‘didn’t have the time’)

but crucially, the conduct of the relevant elected members.

Councillors, who hold the organisation’s purse strings, should have the final say on who’ll be called in to provide training to themselves, senior and junior officers in the future.  So it might not do to turn your attentions upon them?

Such enquiries could end up in an unwanted reaction, and an impact on one’s income streams.

Did former Law Director Bill Norman have a hand in the fact that councillors like former mayor Moira McLaughlin were never even investigated?

Klonowski repeatedly refused to tape record or take minutes during the most crucial stage of her investigation: the witness interviews.  Note-taking was controlled, and done in isolation by her company.  “No dual-tape recording” was also the approach AKA subsequently used at Rochdale Council, in the matter of….  grooming and child abuse…

May 2013 – Rochdale Klonowski email

This calculated approach on Wirral amounted to a failure to preserve a verbatim record.  And history tells us that just before and after AKA had left their full report in the hands of the council, complete with ‘escape hatches’, many grateful people clambered out of them, before forming an orderly queue to collect their public money pay offs.

And what of openness, transparency, accountability?  Despite Bill Norman invoking ‘due process’ and the ‘right to reply’, transparency only travelled ‘so far’, and the AKA report remains largely redacted, years later, with code numbers substituted for persons’ names.

Total public money paid to Anna Klonowski Associates – £377,000+

2.  Rob Vickers.

Brought in to do two separate investigations into Wirral Counci’s dangerous 4 week delay in care – a money-saving move that was the brainchild of Rick O’Brien – who, when the heat rose, was quickly packed off to the NHS to take up the role of National End of Life Care Lead.

Vickers’ sole trading company delivered two whitewashes, the second one courted and feted the senior managers behind the delay, but failed to interview whistleblower Andy Campbell, and when the dust had settled, came forward to collect what looked very much like a reward – a senior interim post within DASS…  which pays handsomely.  In return for its troubles, his sole trader company now banks the equivalent of a hefty £100,000 plus ‘salary’ per annum.

Part of Mr Vickers’ history was a senior role within Social Services at St Helens Council, but the important question with regard to this blog post is… did he have a prior connection to Wirral Council?

Steve Rowley email about Vickers

So the public don’t know, and probably never will; because, although both his pieces of work had the term ‘INDEPENDENT REPORT’ emblazoned across them, he didn’t have to declare any prior connections to Wirral Council in order to prove his independence, secure the gig and the eventual “nice little earner”.


Because Wirral Council had no external investigations policy or procedure to set down any guidelines.

The end result?  Two invalid, non-independent whitewashes into a money-saving, life-threatening 4 week delay in essential care, courtesy of the coming together of Rob Vickers and Wirral Council.

3.  Richard Penn.

Mr Penn unsuccessfully represented Sharon Shoesmith, senior council officer in trouble, and former head of Haringey Social Services during the Baby P case.  Here on Wirral, he was brought in to investigate 4 senior council officers in trouble:  suspendees David Green, Bill Norman, David Taylor-Smith and Ian Coleman.

Mr Penn works for ALACE, the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives.  He’s the man you call upon to defend you if you’re a senior council officer in trouble, like for example, David Green, Bill Norman, David Taylor-Smith and Ian Coleman.

Read here, how he was never asked to declare “no prior connection” to the council.  After some encouragement from me though, he deigned to admit, in between huffing and puffing, that he did make a declaration, done as a kind of nod and a wink, with absolutely no public oversight, and as we now know to our cost, no requirement under any External Investigations Policy – because it didn’t exist.

So, all this gave our troubled quadrumvirate a fair wind, as they soon found to their delight that they’d come up trumps with an investigator whose track record was peppered with battling for senior council officers in trouble…

Meanwhile, the image of Richard Penn presented to the public was one of….

  • banging the table;
  • demanding answers;
  • battling in the public interest;
  • without fear or favour, ploughing a direct course towards the exposure of crookedness

And what was the eventual result?  Step forward Mr Whitewash, followed by Mr Payoff, timeserved and trusted servants to our council through thick and thin, and through so many long, arduous and expensive (to the taxpayer) battles.  Followed by a cheque made out to Richard Penn in the sum of £47,000.  Very nice.


I wonder what these people think when they arrive at Wallasey Town Hall to find they’re ‘in the clear’ even before they’ve interviewed their first senior management ‘witness’?  Maybe that they’ve been transported back in time to a forgotten epoch?  Where there are no pesky obstacles like checks, balances or safeguards…

The image I can’t dismiss from my mind is that of Richard Penn, Anna Klonowski and Rob Vickers dancing about in a victory jig, rubbing their hands together in glee, knowing they’ll soon be in the money.

Here’s how I was sent all around the houses…

From: Paul C Sent: 30 April 2013 12:22 To: InfoMgr, FinDMT Cc: Hodkinson, Graham R. Subject: External investigations

Dear Jane Corrin,

I was browsing the following page on the council website:


…and came across a written assurance that policies / procedures would be provided if they could not be found under the various headings on the website.

Please supply as soon as possible all the relevant policies and procedure(s) in the following areas:

“External and internal investigations commissioned by the council”

e.g. the ones which relate to the Rob Vickers “4 week delay in care” investigations and the Anna Klonowski external review relating to failures in governance.

I look forward to receiving the information or a link to it very quickly, as this method is being promoted as a more effective alternative to placing an FoI request.  Here is an example of an FoI request placed 11 months ago, but which remains unanswered:


The Director of Social Sevices, Graham Hodkinson, highlighted this alternative to me some time ago, but failed to update or expand on it,

Best regards,
Paul Cardin

…almost two weeks later…

From: Corrin, Jane Sent: 13 May 2013 11:27 To: Paul C Subject: External investigations

Good Morning,

Thank you for your email below.  The publication scheme exists to help enquiries find a wealth of information which is published on our web pages; I have copied and pasted the extract below.  If a member of the public is unable to find the information they require on our publication scheme/via our website then they can of course email Informationmanager@wirral.gov.uk


Policies and procedures for conducting Council business This information can be found in Part 4 of the Constitution.

Policies and procedures for delivering our services Where published these will be available on this website under the various service headings. If you are unable to find the information you require please contact us at informationmanager@wirral.gov.uk

Kind Regards – Jane Corrin
Information Manager – Wirral Council

From: Paul C  Sent: 14 May 2013 20:55 To: ‘Corrin, Jane’ Cc: ‘grahamhodkinson@wirral.gov.uk’ Subject: RE: External investigations

Dear Ms Corrin,

Thank you for your response.  I followed the link you provided (Part 4 of the Constitution. ), however I was blocked.

Please view the attachment (which was the screen I was greeted with) and endeavour to open up access to your publication scheme.  Please advise me once this is done, or explain why I am not permitted to view the documents,

Kind regards,
Paul Cardin

and later…

From: Paul C  Sent: 14 May 2013 23:47 To: Corrin, Jane Cc: Hodkinson, Graham R.; Burgess, Graham Subject: FW: External investigations

Dear Jane Corrin,

Eventually, I did manage to find the Council Constitution and the Part 4 ‘Procedure Rules’.

But I’m afraid you’re mistaken.  There is no reference to external investigations policy / procedures anywhere within this document.

Please advise whether they DO actually appear within the council’s publication scheme, or whether they DON’T – and furnish them to me as soon as possible.

Social Services Director Graham Hodkinson was good enough to reassure me a long time ago that this method would be a good alternative to making FoI requests.  However, this is an inauspicious start and if this drags out for months (e.g. 11 months so far for this failed FoI request): https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/consultant_anna_klonowski_declar

….I’ll be referring this to the ICO,

Many thanks,
Paul Cardin

The Jane Corrin response…

From: Corrin, Jane Sent: 15 May 2013 09:23 To: Paul C Cc: Hodkinson, Graham R.; Burgess, Graham; InfoMgr, FinDMT Subject: RE: External investigations

Good Morning,

Thank you for your email below, please see my previous reply which stated “The publication scheme exists to help enquiries find a wealth of information which is published on our web pages; I have copied and pasted the extract below.  If a member of the public is unable to find the information they require on our publication scheme/via our website then they can of course email Informationmanager@wirral.gov.uk

If an enquirer is unable to find the information they require on our publication scheme/web pages, as it seems is the case from reading your email, then a request can be made via information manager.  I will take your email below as a request for information under The Freedom of Information Act 2000.  I have copied in Information Manager’s email address on your behalf.

Your request will be processed and you will receive a reply within 20 working days from today’s date.

Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral council

So, the conclusion appears to be: you can always email the information manager, but as we know to our cost, after 16 months of banging our head against a wall, the information didn’t even exist.

Cheers !

Posted in FoI Requests, General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


First, read this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Council:


…..Here’s how the Don Latham, “local government consultancy” worked:

To set a new (i.e. increased) allowance rate for councillors, Wirral leader Steve Foulkes operated an Independent Remuneration Panel, back in 2002 – but it was anything but ‘independent’.

The structure was calculated, questionable and shamelessly self-serving….

The then Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions advised that under the Local Government Act (2000), councils appoint a panel to decide a “fair rate” for councillors’ allowances. The panel members must be ‘truly independent and picked to represent the diversity of the local community‘. Local Authorities may have wished to ask particular stakeholders, e.g. the voluntary sector or the local business community.

The panel for this period was made up of the then Bishop of Birkenhead, David Urquhart (had lived and served on the Wirral for the previous 2 years); Pauline Brown (Business Adviser for British Printing Industries…based in Salford); Nunzia Bertali (the Italian Consul). Gerry Hare, works director at Unilever (ah, at last, someone with a local connection), but what’s this? he was part of the North West business leadership team based in Warrington……. and finally, Don Latham, a former Council Chief Executive, but now a journeyman private ‘local government consultant’ but only charging £2,000 a time for his services – (this was eleven years ago remember).  Don also travelled around (and still does to this day), doing a spot of honest toil on the remuneration panels of Exeter City, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire Health Authority at the same time – nice little earners.

OK, the panel didn’t exactly “represent the diversity of the local community”, but why were there questions over the panel’s independence?  Because the levels of pay of the panel were decided by ‘The Local Democracy Working Party’.

Who were they?  Steve Foulkes; George Davies; shameless, unapologetic, inveterate liar (see hereherehereherehere, and herePhil Davies; Jeff Green; John Hale; Stuart Kelly; Hugh Lloyd and Pat Williams – all councillors who stood to gain from a good level of allowances.  In fact, this completely circular arrangement ensured that the more of our cash these councillors paid to the panel, the more they themselves stood to gain.

And so it came to pass ~ on top of his basic allowance increase, Steve Foulkes creamed a 36% rise in his Special Responsibility Allowance at the time.

On top of his basic allowance increase, The Leader of the Opposition John Hale creamed himself a bumper 30.5% rise

The rest of the councillors, all 64 of them, were handed a 16% rise.

Since then, all councillors have ‘generously foregone’ a small rise in their allowance – but they could afford to do that couldn’t they? having already been in receipt of their inflation busting hike in 2002…

Not bad then, and compares very favourably with the 3% rise that the council workforce struggled to prise from the employer at the time…   it seems there was one rule for a lucky few, but a starkly different one for the majority…..

And even today, as this Wirral Globe article strongly suggests, the workforce continue to be placed under serious threat – but there are no stated plans to reduce either the number of councillors or the obscene level of personal allowances they collect.

In fact an effort to put the brakes on councillor greed was tabled by a councillor who recently quit his party to become independent, but this was unceremoniously thrown out when councillors, usually at each other’s throats, but with their backs against the wall and pound signs in their eyes, joined forces in a rare moment of cross party unity.

More here… “The Gravy Train”, Issue One………


Fast forward to October 2019 and Nunzia Bertali, mentioned above, has joined her Independent Remuneration Panel colleague David Urquhart with the awarding of Freedom of the Borough of Wirral.

Link: Council Tax Cash for Honours. We can clearly see how this works…

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