AFTER a six-year ordeal that cost him his career and led to financial ruin whistleblower Martin Morton has finally come to a settlement with his former employers.
Wirral Council has reached agreement over an undisclosed sum to try to recompense Mr Morton for the calamitous consequences he suffered after exposing a social services scandal.
The authority nowadays happily acknowledges the vital service Mr Morton performed in shining a light on the wrong-doers and bringing to an end a prolonged period when vulnerable care home tenants were being systematically "ripped-off."
But back in 2008, far from being applauded, Mr Morton was victimised, bullied and harassed out his job.
He suffered severe hardships and today reveals he has relied on food donations and shopping vouchers contributed by anonymous supporters in order to survive.
The affect on his health and family life has been no less traumatic.
Illness and stress have taken their toll, and Mr Morton is now trying to rebuild his life.
Mr Morton's problems began when he lifted the lid on the so-called "special charging policy" in the Department of Adult Social Services under which disabled tenants were illegally over-charged for their rent at several council-run care homes for many years.
After a series of exclusive reports in this newspaper a full inquiry was ordered, conducted by consultant Anna Klonowski.
Her examination of practices in Wirral triggered an unprecedented upheaval in the way the authority was managed.
An exodus of senior officers was followed by a new regime at the town hall, which has focused on changing a culture Ms Klonowski branded "corrosive" and "abnormal."
But Mr Morton says he remains entirely unconvinced anything of substance actually has changed - a charge refuted by chief executive Graham Burgess.
Mr Morton told the Globe: "It is now more than three years since a report was published that identified I had been bullied, harassed and subjected to abuse of power by Wirral Council officials.
"It was also agreed that the council would provide 'appropriate remedy' including my re-engagement.
"However, after the authority has spent a considerable amount of money on my case on a series of investigations, legal fees and compensation since I was bullied out of my job in 2008, I cannot in good conscience ever return to work for the organisation.
"I readily acknowledge that for council workers facing the threat of redundancy, this must be particularly galling to read."
He said a major consideration in this decision was detailed in a public accounts committee report published last week which stated: "whistleblowers who risk their careers to uncover wrongdoing within public services are being victimised by managers who nearly always escape sanction."
"Not only the fact that those who victimised me escaped any sanction - and indeed in some cases were rewarded with public money without the same due legal process I was expected to endure - is something that I simply cannot reconcile," said Mr Morton.
"Most importantly, I do not believe Wirral Council has changed its culture.
"I acknowledge a change in culture takes time. But I have specific examples where I am aware of ongoing cover-ups, giving the lie to any claim the council is now 'open and transparent.'
"Graham Burgess stated last November that with the endorsement of the Local Government Association, Wirral had been turned around and that 'having won the war, we must win the peace.'
"I have recently told Mr Burgess my family and I will never have any peace - but we must try to reconcile our horrendous experience and somehow start to rebuild our lives.
"Finally, I'd like to thank the Globe for their support these past six years and my family, friends and supporters - including those anonymous people who made kind donations of food, money and vouchers when times were very hard."
While this seems to be the final chapter in the saga, it may make the first pages of a new book.
"The first step I will be taking will be to complete work on a book where the full story can finally be told - unredacted and unexpurgated," Mr Morton dislcosed.
Mr Burgess said: "I regret Mr Morton feels there has been no change in Wirral Council, but many independent experts would disagree with him.
"We have in fact achieved a great deal; I am aware there is still a great deal to improve, but I am confident we will do that.
"I can see the major improvements having an effect in Wirral and those changes are supported strongly by the leader of the council, other elected members and officers and I look forward to continuing those improvements."
SPECIAL CHARGING SCANDAL:
The "special charging policy" Mr Morton exposed of elderly and vulnerable people living in homes at Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road, all in Moreton, went on for seven years.
He had raised his concerns several times with his managers, but 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 and we helped him tell his story.
Days after our exclusive report, two senior officers were suspended but after disciplinary hearings were reinstated.
The Globe never let the "charging policy" disappear from our columns - nor the scandal that surrounded it.
At first it was denied that any such policy even existed.
But eventually, after a series of investigations, the council was forced to admit its errors and repaid 16 care home residents £450,000.