Public Servants With Attitudes (not nice ones, yikes!)

7th June 2013

Whitewash news…

The investigator into, “Why a senior Wirral Council Officer failed to declare an interest”, er…… fails to declare an interest https://t.co/alygqdiFlZ

— Wirral In It 2gether (@Wirral_In_It) June 19, 2013

Today, I discovered my local authority, Wirral Council, held “no information” to confirm Richard Penn (external investigator) had declared “no prior affiliation with the council” before taking up the investigation into four suspended senior officers:

  • Highways Director David Green; (paid off £103,000)
  • Director of Law Bill Norman; (paid off £151,000)
  • Acting Chief Exec. Ian Coleman; (paid off £82,500)
  • Deputy Director of Finance David Taylor-Smith (paid off £68,500)

      Total pay-offs: £405,000

Total invoiced to tax payers by Richard Penn for his services: £47,000

I thought I’d drop Richard a line, telling him that in the absence of this important information, his investigation was not independent, and therefore invalid.

Here’s my email, and the exchange of emails that ensued:

From: Paul C
Subject: Investigation NOT independent
To: Richard Penn
Date: Friday, June 7, 2013, 2:23 PM

Dear Mr Penn,

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/140391/response/396969/attach/html/3/628505.doc.html

It appears from the answers to the above FoI request that your investigation into David Green was not correctly independent and is therefore invalid.

I say this because you appear to have failed to provide a declaration prior to being commissioned to the effect that you held “no prior affiliation with Wirral Council”. Presumably the council do not hold this information because it was never supplied to them.

The public interest has not been served here.   In fact it’s been blatantly circumvented and sidelined.  I’d be pleased to receive any comments you may wish to make on this situation,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

Richard Penn’s response:

From: Richard Penn
Sent: 07 June 2013 17:37
To: Paul C
Subject: Re: Investigation NOT independent

I really don’t know what this has got to do with you, or why you take it on yourself to comment on my investigation. My instinct is therefore to ignore your intrusive emails. However, I am intrigued how you reach the conclusion that my investigation was ‘invalid’ because I appear to have failed to provide a declaration prior to being commissioned to the effect that I held ‘no prior affiliation with Wirral Council’.  This information wasn’t asked for formally, although I did confirm Wirral Council that I had no current or prior contact let alone any ‘affiliation’ with the Council or with any employee I was being asked to investigate.

How d you reach the lofty conclusion that ‘the public interest has not been served here’?  Who on earth do you think you are?  Please do not communicate with me again as I will not respond further.

Richard Penn

and my response…

From: Paul C
Sent: 07 June 2013 18:27
To: ‘Richard Penn’
Subject: RE: Investigation NOT independent

Dear Mr Penn,

I’ll respond more fully when I’ve had time to ponder the consequences of this situation.

For now, in answer to your query, “Who on earth (sic) do you think you are?” my response is…. I am a member of the public who is keenly interested in this area.

As such, you serve me…  and currently, I’m not happy with your performance,

Speak soon,

Paul

And this could be Mr Penn’s final word on the matter…

From: Richard Penn
Sent: 07 June 2013 20:25
To: Paul C
Subject: Re: Investigation NOT independent

Please don’t waste your time thinking about it. I answered your initial query openly and honestly but given your unjustified comments in your later emails I have no intention of entering into further correspondence with you.

Richard Penn

Sent from my iPad

I’m planning to contact Richard Penn again in the near future in order to flesh out the following propositions; that his investigation:

  • was not independent
  • is therefore invalid
  • is based upon an internal nod and a wink ‘confirming independence’ – which is not good enough, and can’t be seen and registered by his public paymasters
  • represents a foreseeable, avoidable and hugely expensive (approaching £half a million) whitewash

  There will be more to follow, hopefully…..

About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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2 Responses to Public Servants With Attitudes (not nice ones, yikes!)

  1. Anon. says:

    It would follow that Wirral council should have held this information, and also that RP would have at least expected this.

    If an investigation is to be held then the person carrying out that investigation (as is usual) must have the utmost of integrity; I would have expected RP if he was of such calibre to have pointed out that the council should have maintained on record a declaration of any interests from the appointed investigator.

    That RP then also fails to duly comment on the propriety of the process followed by the council in appointing an investigator is twice the cause for concern.

    The only thing I can think is confirm with Wirral council that they really do not have a declaration from RP of any related interests on record.

  2. Thanks for your comment. They’ve confirmed here that they don’t hold the information.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/140391/response/396969/attach/html/3/628505.doc.html

    Richard Penn himself confirmed that he wasn’t asked to declare it and it was all done on a kind of ‘nod and a wink’ – beyond public oversight.

    Huge sums in public money rode on this and it really isn’t good enough because we the paymasters can’t see what’s going on. So much for the much-heralded “openness & transparency” oft quoted by council leader Phil Davies – he of the new blog, so open and transparent that public commenting has been disabled.

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