16th February 2013
Tonight, Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton appeared on the Stephen Nolan programme on Radio Five Live. He gave a compelling and at times disturbing account of the atrocious treatment he’d received both before and after going public with harrowing details of Wirral Council’s long term abuse against disabled people.
His treatment whilst still employed there involved savage psychological bullying by management; repeated intimidation; harassment; alienation; mobbing by groups of managers, the shredding of items from his personnel file, the writing and shredding of secret reports and later, an outrageous claim that he was ‘mad’. Such was the level of cruelty applied, Martin and his wife sank to an extremely low ebb, and with their health failing, even considered taking their own lives. At this low point, he signed a compromise agreement with a gagging clause – one which the council should have been aware breached the Public Interest Disclosure Act – the law drawn up to ‘protect’ whistleblowers and to enable them to make ‘protected disclosures’.
The whole sickening gamut of calculated, callous treatment was brought to his and his family’s door when he followed the ethical requirements within his professional Social Workers’ Code, and raised well-founded concerns about the financial abuse of Supported Living tenants in three accommodations in the Moreton area of Wirral. In time, practically all of his concerns, including those that listed many £millions in uncollected debt, were fully vindicated – in almost every detail.
Fast forward to the present day, and the council’s current crop of senior managers is now split between those who’ve been in situ for many years, and the new arrivals, who are only in place due to Martin’s public spirited actions – including Chief Executive Officer Graham Burgess. But despite being called in to carry out the changes that Martin highlighted were needed, they’ve fallen back into the old “Wirral Way” and are being less than gracious. Their response to the many years of sterling work Martin has put in appears begrudged, or even filled with indifference and resentment. Even with the LGA ‘improvement’ team in place, any form of accountability for the shocking decade of abuse and malpractice now looks like a distant dream.
Some might say these highly paid ‘new kidz on the block’ are even seeking the public’s gratitude for ‘discovering’ all the problems that Martin told the council about in great detail years ago.
And meanwhile, Martin remains unemployed; in legal speak, “suffering a detriment”, with his chosen Social Work career in tatters.
Most disturbing though is the fact that despite external, so-called independent investigations, many of the abusive officers have dodged accountability and have safely moved on. They’ve been handed the disgusting option of reaching into a ‘lucky dip’, in the shape of a bumper, bonus pot of upwards of £810,000 – a kind of public money slush fund for abusers. Two of the biggest offenders, who despite deliberately emptying the bank accounts of learning disabled people over many, many years, were never sanctioned. In fact at one point, the current council leader Councillor Phil Davies (a man who has repeatedly voted in favour of paying off suspected abusers) bizzarely cleared them of any wrongdoing. Despite Martin’s stated concerns being brought directly to them at the time, these two did absolutely nothing – and have got away with it. The council have done nothing either, helping the pair to enjoy and avail themselves of a mammoth £220,000 reward for failure.
To add insult to injury, following the signing of concealing compromise agreements with gagging clauses, they are free to be employed again (and potentially to abuse again) at a different employer in the future, who may unwittingly take them on. I suspect there will even be a “club over their heads” in the form of a penalty clause preventing them from talking to any new employer about their sordid histories. So within our modern democracy, the law has been used to protect and enable the abuse of disabled people.
Here’s the link: