A WIRRAL MP fighting for justice for a group of whistleblowers claims council chiefs are "deliberately stalling" publication of an inquiry report into their treatment.

Frank Field accused unnamed officers of an "abuse of power" and called for them to "face their moral responsibilities."

The council says it has asked the inquiry leader for further information and it would be "inappropriate" to comment further at this stage.

The row centres around a probe overseen by retired judge Nick Warren.

Back in January, he was tasked with examining how the whistleblower group had been treated by the local authority - after assessing the evidence, he would rule whether they should receive compensation.

The move was the latest twist in a long-running saga after the group of former council employees voiced concerns over alleged "irregularities" in a £40m outsourced contract with highways maintenance company Colas.

Mr Warren completed his investigation in April and forwarded his findings to the town hall, apparently with the understanding an executive summary report would be published shortly afterwards.

But since then, says Mr Field, nothing has been heard.

He told the Globe: "I am deeply troubled by this delay.

"It is almost ten weeks since the report was completed and filed, and we are clearly getting nowhere.

"Officers within the council need to face up to their moral responsibilities and realise that these delaying manoeuvres are an abuse of their power.

"It is an insult to the whistleblowers and to the people of Wirral, who have a right to know what has been going on.

"The debt Wirral owes the whistleblowers is considerable and yet they gained no compensation for the damage that has occurred to their careers."

We put the Birkenhead MP's claims to the council.

A spokesman said: "We have kept Mr Field updated.

"He will be aware that we have received a draft report from the investigator and have asked him to consider further matters arising from his report.

"We anticipate his final report soon, until then it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

A spokesman for the whistleblowers said: "After all we have been through we should be used to being treated in this shabby way by the council.

"But we genuinely thought that this time - after both sides had agreed the terms of the review - we would finally get an answer.

"Despite all the crowing about the council being the most improved in England, it seems to us nothing at all has changed."

After the group raised the alarm in 2012, four chief officers were suspended from work while an investigation was carried out by local government watchdog the Audit Commission.

The commission's report, published in October 2012, found EU rules "probably had been broken" by the manner in which the highways contract had been handled.

However, a further inquiry was ordered by the then chief executive Graham Burgess and conducted by outside consultant Richard Penn.

Mr Penn found there was "no case to answer" and cleared the authority of any wrongdoing.

The four officers later left the council under a management restructure, either through voluntary severance or early retirement.