A weekly newspaper’s exposure of a council’s wrongdoing led to 16 care home residents being paid a total of £250,000.
Three years ago the Wirral Globe revealed that Wirral Council had been systematically overcharging vulnerable and disabled residents living in council care homes after a tip-off from town hall whistle-blower Martin Morton.
This led to an independent investigation which found that the council was in the grip of a “corrosive” and “inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its bureaucratic machinations”.
Mr Morton’s claims of bullying, cover-ups and maladministration have now led the independent inquiry to conclude that the authority needs a root and branch change in its culture.
Editor of the Newsquest title Leigh Marles said: “Mr Morton had raised his concerns several times with his managers, but he was ignored, bullied and driven out of his job.
“He was paid £45,000 to leave the service and keep quiet. Instead, in November of 2008, he approached the Globe who helped him tell his story.
“Days after their exclusive report, two senior officers were suspended but, after disciplinary hearings, were reinstated.
“The Globe never let the overcharging policy nor the scandal that surrounds it disappear, and eventually the council was forced to admit its errors and repaid 16 care home residents £250,000.”
Added Leigh: “Mr Morton has suffered an awful lot to get these revelations into the public gaze. He lost his job yet continued though our columns to press home his revelations of wrong-doing.
“Today he stands totally vindicated – as we always knew he would – and we are happy to have played a part in this.”
Council leader Steve Foulkes told the newspaper: “This is a highly-critical report, but I welcome it because it is the ultimate wake-up call which gives all of us the chance to change.
“As leader, along with my senior management team, I fully accept that I have not always seen what I should have seen, and I have not challenged officers as rigorously as I should have. From today that changes. This now takes total priority.”