THE leader of Wirral Council has made an unprecedented apology on behalf of the authority for "ripping off" vulnerable people in its care.
He also promised swift disciplinary action against those responsible for bullying a social worker out of his job - and has even offered him his position back.
A clearly furious Cllr Jeff Green writes on his blog: "I want the people responsible for this shameful, disgraceful episode in Wirral’s history to be disciplined."
The astonishing turn of events took place at last night's meeting of the council cabinet, when a confidential report finally revealed the disgraceful treatment of whistleblower Martin Morton.
Mr Morton said: “I’m a bit shocked. I think that from a very negative position, something very positive can come.
“I’ve had my issues with investigations in the past, because I think we’ve been ill-served by them in terms of getting to the bottom of just what happened.
“Everything that’s being investigated now is what should have been investigated and checked through the proper internal processes at the beginning.”
He added: “For me, it’s the start of a new beginning. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. But what we’ve been looking for is justice.
"I didn’t know what justice felt like, but I’m beginning to see it now on the horizon.”
The "overcharging 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 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 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 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.
Last night, council leader Cllr Jeff Green was clearly shocked and angry that a public servant could have been so poorly treated.
Writing that Mr Morton was "treated disgracefully", he says: "On behalf of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, I apologise for the mistakes of the previous administration to both Martin Morton and the people we ripped off.
"Martin Morton worked for the council since 1990 in a department that exists to protect people who cannot always look after and protect themselves.
"He tried his best to fulfil that duty but was prevented from doing so.
"The report into the allegations Martin Morton made was considered by cabinet, albeit ‘in secret’ due to the impending disciplinary action we will be bringing against those responsible.
"I want the people responsible for this shameful, disgraceful episode in Wirral’s history to be disciplined."
He continues: "I can say that for as long as I am leader, there will be no whitewash in Wirral and no more cover ups.
"The future Martin Morton’s of Wirral Council should have the confidence to use the Whistleblower Legislation to full effect.
"However, we did agree to lift the secrecy on the covering report.
"I was delighted that Martin had the courage to attend tonight’s meeting and, when I invited him to speak, he was clearly moved and possibly relieved that a traumatic part of his life is almost over. But not quite.
"Cabinet tonight agreed to offer to re employ Martin Morton. Why?
"Because we should stick by the people who do the right thing for our residents."