EXCLUSIVE: Shocking revelations by Wirral whistleblower Martin Morton feature in major new Parliamentary inquiry (From Wirral Globe)
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EXCLUSIVE: Shocking revelations by Wirral whistleblower Martin Morton feature in major new Parliamentary inquiry
A MAJOR new Parliamentary inquiry into whistleblowing features a case study of Martin Morton - whose astonishing revelations in the Globe sent shockwaves through Wirral Council.
The review by the National Audit Office found there is no cross-Government strategy to assist whistleblowers.
And half of workers stay silent about misconduct they witness amid an "uncoordinated" approach, it warned.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said ministers should do more to support people who were trying to protect taxpayers' money.
The report will be used to form new Government policy to help workers blow the whistle.
Mr Morton was asked to contribute to the findings after his whistleblowing exposed the systematic overcharging of rents for vulnerable tenants in council care homes in 2008.
The former adult social services manager raised his concerns with his superiors, but was bullied out of his job and signed a gagging clause to prevent him revealing the truth.
But instead of staying silent, he came to the Globe and we helped him tell his story.
Our series of exclusive articles highlighting the scandal led to the local authority eventually agreeing to pay back around £700,000 that had been unlawfully collected.
Shocking as those revelations were, they were just the tip of an iceberg that triggered a devastating inquiry by consultant Anna Klonowski.
She found the town hall had become more concerned with its own internal machinations than the needs of Wirral people.
And she memorably recorded that "In Wirral, the abnormal had become commonplace."
The fall-out from the Klonowski review led to a root and branch reorganisation of the council which is still ongoing, and many of its most senior officials in post at the time left their jobs.
Mr Morton told the Globe today: "I welcome the publication of the National Audit Office report and the inclusion of my experience as a whistleblower within the case studies.
"There seems to be an increasing recognition within Parliament that there needs to be a 'rebranding' of whistleblowing as a resource - particularly within social care and health - to ensure both the safeguarding of vulnerable people and safety of patients.
"It is particularly telling the National Audit Office has published this report because beyond the personal cost to individuals like myself - which are incalculable - there are usually massive financial and reputational costs to public bodies who fail to address whistleblowing concerns properly.
"This ultimately impacts on front line services facing cuts as public money is diverted away from where it is needed most.
"This is another compelling reason why politicians - both local and national - should sit up and take notice."
He continued: "As I say in the report, I feel whistleblowers need to be more in control of the process in terms of timescales, outcomes and have the opportunity to take their concerns externally without fear of reprisal.
"I also strongly believe that there needs to be real accountability and the imposition of sanctions for those who try to silence or victimise whistleblowers or reward wrongdoing."
Mr Morton said he is hoping as a result of the probe, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee will make strong recommendations to Parliament that will ensure the imbalance of power that whistleblowers face can be addressed.
Ms Hodge said: "It is extremely worrying therefore that half of workers stay silent about misconduct, possibly because they fear what will happen if they speak out.
"Government must do more to support those workers that try to protect taxpayers' money.
"Government's uncoordinated, piece-meal approach to whistleblowing is simply not good enough and it is completely unacceptable that almost two-thirds of those who speak out receive no response at all from their management.
"The longer this goes on, the more likely it is that patterns of wrong-doing will be missed - undoubtedly resulting in taxpayers' money being mis-spent or even lives being put at risk."
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