UPDATED: Career destroyed, depressed and facing financial ruin - whistleblower Martin Morton is now seeking justice for himself (From Wirral Globe)
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UPDATED: Career destroyed, depressed and facing financial ruin - whistleblower Martin Morton is now seeking justice for himself
SOCIAL services whistleblower Martin Morton’s case still has no end in sight – almost two years after Wirral Council agreed to find a suitable resolution.
His legal team claim council chiefs have failed to respond to urgent requests to settle the matter - leaving Mr Morton in severe financial straits and suffering from depression.
In 2008, Mr Morton approached the Globe seeking help to expose a scandal in which vulnerable adults had been systematically overcharged for their rented accommodation.
The former adult social services manager had repeatedly warned his bosses about the scandal but was first ignored, then bullied out of his job having signed a gagging clause forbidding him from revealing the overcharging to the press.
However the whistleblower's desire to see justice for the tenants persuaded him to speak to our journalists - and the Globe's shocking revelations caused a bombshell in the town hall.
They led to a series of damning independent top-level inquiries being commissioned - and several senior officers in post at the time are no longer employed by the authority.
The campaign eventually persuaded the council to apologise to the vulnerable residents it had "ripped off" and also saw it making a full apology to Mr Morton offering "appropriate remedy including possible re-engagement with the council."
But that was two years ago - and it appears little has been done to help Mr Morton since.
Mr Morton, 50, said: “Five years after I first exposed the abuse of vulnerable people in council care, I am unemployed and on anti-depressants, with my home in jeopardy and recurring thoughts of taking my own life.
"Meanwhile, those implicated in serious malpractice have been rewarded with six-figure pay-offs.
“I agreed in good faith with the council’s legal department not to pursue the proven case matter of harassment via the courts in 2011.
"We now find ourselves in the ludicrous situation that despite Wirral Council paying legal costs since this time I may now have no option but to do so."
David Kirwan, managing partner at Kirwans law firm, is insisting the council take steps to resolve the matter – or face the consequences.
He said although the town hall originally pledged to pay Mr Morton’s legal fees, senior managers have so far refused to engage with Mr Kirwan and discuss Mr Morton’s claim for compensation.
Mr Kirwan said: “Back in April 2011, Wirral Council made a very public apology to Mr Morton for the disgraceful way he had been treated after bringing the appalling cases of abuse to its attention and recognised that his public-spirited actions had ultimately destroyed his life.
"The council also promised to remedy the situation.
“However, despite repeated efforts by myself to contact both Graham Burgess [chief exceutive] and Surjit Tour [chief legal officer] for assurance that the council still intend to both remedy Mr Morton’s situation and pay his legal fees, I have yet to hear from either.
“This inexcusable delay and procrastination has left Mr Morton’s life in tatters.
"His reward for highlighting the abuse of vulnerable people has been unemployment, depression, and recurring thoughts of suicide."
Mr Morton said: “The fact the council destroyed my career, my future, my family life, my health and well-being is simply unquantifiable.
"However, my bottom line is this, Wirral Council destroyed my future – they need to atone and secure it.”
Mr Morton said that he could no longer consider returning to work for an employer who has caused him such considerable harm.
A council spokeswoman said: “Wirral Council has to date funded legal fees in excess of £14,000 relating to Mr Morton’s case.
"Discussions related to ongoing legal fees are continuing with Mr Morton’s legal representatives."
The spokeswoman continued: "On a number of occasions, the council has expressed extreme regret for what happened to Martin, and has thanked him for drawing the matters to our attention.
"We have offered Martin a job back with the council, but understand that this isn't something he wishes to accept.
‘We are now keen to ensure that Martin has all the support that he needs and that a resolution to this is found as quickly as possible.
"To that end the chief executive did offer to meet him, and that invitation still stands.”
UPDATE: David Kirwan responds: “Any legal payments made so far have been to Mr Morton’s previous legal firm, Ralli, in Manchester – not to Kirwans.
"Kirwans has yet to be paid by Wirral Borough Council for the legal advice I have given to Mr Morton.”