THE whistleblower whose revelations in the Globe set a bombshell under Wirral Council saw him come face to face with leading local government officials at a specially-called public meeting this afternoon.

Martin Morton was applauded by supporters when he explained it is vitally important that those who come forward to lift the lid on wrong-doing are guaranteed to be treated with dignity and respect.

The meeting at Wallasey Town hall had been set up to discuss changes made in way the local authority is run.

The event was in response to a report by an overseeing "Improvement Board" suggesting that, after 20 months of upheaval, Wirral has taken sufficient steps to return to autonomy.

Mr Morton, a former social services manager, blew the whistle in 2008 on systematic over-charging of rents paid by vulnerable adults in council care homes.

But far from of responding positively, the authority instead attempted a cover-up.

Mr Morton was ostracised and bullied out of his job, having signed a gagging clause prohibiting him from making the scandal public.

However he came to the Globe with his story, and our exclusive reports eventually led to an inquiry being set up by independent investigator Anna Klonowski.

Her shocking findings set in train events that led to the improvement board being brought in to oversee the council as it strived to return to normality and regain its reputation.

Mr Morton told members of the board today: “It’s strangely circulatory for me, because it was in this room in 2008 that I was first allowed to speak to the audit and risk management committee.

“It’s interesting that the phrase ‘we’ve won the war’ was used by the chief executive [Graham Burgess] last week because, to use another related phrase, I’m suffering from battle fatigue.

“This authority needs to review the way it deals with whistleblowers.

"Until you change that culture, whistleblowers cannot feel safe.

"Whistleblowers are your friends.”

Mr Morton was offered his job back in 2011 by the then leader of the authority, Tory group chief Jeff Green, who also apologised on behalf of the town hall for the whistleblower's "appalling treatment."

To further applause Mr Morton concluded: “The question I would ask today is, would the board recommend that I returned to for work for Wirral Council?”

Chief executive Graham Burgess told the Globe: "Significant changes have taken place within the council since Mr Morton raised serious concerns about the department he was working in seven years ago.

“I want employees to feel able to challenge decisions, policies and working practices and as chief executive of this organisation, can assure whistleblowers that they will be treated sympathetically and their issues will be investigated thoroughly.

"We have revised our whistleblowing procedure to make it more robust, and I am committed to ensuring that staff who raise concerns are able to do so without fear of reprisals.”

Addressing the wider issues, he said: "A lot of progress has been made at the council since the improvement board was established.

"Today was important in that it enabled local people to air their views about a number of issues addressed in the board's draft report.

"This feedback will be considered by the board and be taken into account when they finalise their report which will be discussed at the end of the month.

"This council is emerging from one of the most difficult periods in its history and inviting external people to scrutinise improvements demonstrates our willingness to open ourselves up to challenge."

The board is chaired by former Wigan Council chief executive Joyce Redfearn, who said: “The improvement board was the right mechanism about 18 months ago.

“What we have done with the report is to test what the council is doing to tackle the themes going forward.

“The report says there is progress, and there is a need to improve.

“It highlights the next steps Wirral Council need to take.

“We are not saying it’s a done deal - we are saying that there needs to be improvements.”

The final version of the board's review will be presented to council on Thursday, November 28.