Documents the council didn’t want you to know about over a blunder involving the appointment of a top contractor have come to light.

At a Wirral Council committee meeting on Wednesday, chief executive Eric Robinson assured members measures had been taken to ensure the situation that saw Stuart Halliday hired – and dropped – would not be repeated.

Mr Halliday was appointed as corporate director for economic and housing growth on an interim basis last year – eight days after officials knew him to have invoiced them as a contractor for huge sums being paid into a dissolved company’s bank account.

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Mr Halliday was hired on January 24 despite officers being made aware on January 16 that several payments had been made to a firm called Forge House Associates since September 2018.

It was revealed that after Googling the firm, council officials realised it was actually dissolved.

In January, Mr Halliday was dropped from the job after what the authority described as “financial irregularity” and later put down to “error.”

At Wednesday’s special meeting of the audit and risk management committee, attempts were made to exclude the press and public from sitting in on the part of the meeting to discuss the fallout from Mr Halliday’s appointment.

That was due to information contained in the report said to be “very personal to individuals” – although councillors voted unanimously to lift restrictions on part of the report.

The documents revealed a timeline of events that led to Mr Halliday’s appointment and the work he carried out, including on the Local Plan.

It showed the people responsible at each stage of the recruitment and the communication with Mr Halliday.

It also revealed he had been allowed to stay working for the council as a contractor since 2016 despite just “one check” having been done in over two years.

Committee member Cllr Jeff Green said: “How on earth could we only have done one check and let it just roll on as opposed to doing more?”

Cllr David Elderton said the situation “stinks of a lack of control.”

The meeting heard the sequence of events that saw Mr Halliday hired had been partly due to “junior” members of staff involved in the process.

Mr Robinson said the situation has caused “embarrassment to me and the council,” adding that it was a “fault in process.”

He accepted accountability adding that procedures had already been put in place to ensure a similar situation would not occur again.

“We are not going to haul anyone over the coals for this,” he said.

He added: “It’s about learning from it. We have looked at that internally and agreed if there are any issues of concern, for the director of finance to be informed immediately.

“Rather than people talking to each other about it, we have made a change, it’s clear we have learned from that.”