A TOWN hall blunder saw local government watchdogs being sent the wrong paperwork for an investigation into a complaint against Wirral councillors.

The mistake will be hugely embarrassing for the council as the allegations are in connection with an issue already branded "appalling" and "a disgrace" by the authority's own leader.

Standards for England had earlier this week dismissed the complaint saying no further action was required.

But now the complaint is being re-examined.

The probe is into allegations against councillors Moira McLaughlin, Denise Roberts, Pat Williams and Ann Bridson.

It centres around adult social services' "special charging" policy - a regime for which the council was forced to repay £250,000 to care home residents.

A statement issued on Wednesday by Standards for England said it had "received a referral relating to the alleged behaviour of councillors Moira McLaughlin, Denise Roberts, Pat Williams and Ann Bridson with regard to the continuation of special charging policy operated by the council.

"Having carefully considered the information provided to it, Standards for England has decided...that no further action be taken."

However it has emerged today that that position has changed.

The Globe can reveal that someone in the town hall sent the wrong documents to the SFE for its inquiry.

An SFE spokeswoman said this afternoon: "I can confirm we have been made aware by Wirral Borough Council that there may be an issue with the information previously supplied to us in relation to the complaint against councillors McLaughlin, Roberts, Williams and Bridson.

"We are currently awaiting further clarification on this matter."

She said SFE is unable to comment further at this time.

The four councillors were members of a town hall review group which in 2005 scrutinised the various charging and financial schedules operating within the local authority for residential care provision.

The scandal of the "special" charging policy was exposed in the Globe in 2008.

Whistleblower Martin Morton, a senior social services manager, uncovered a regime in which vulnerable adults in the care of the local authority were systematically overcharged for their accommodation during a period of seven years.

Mr Morton raised his concerns several times with his managers, but was first ignored then bullied and driven out of his job.

He was paid £45,000 to leave the service and told to keep quiet.

Instead, in November 2008, he approached the Wirral Globe and after our exclusive reports, two senior officers of the council were suspended but, after disciplinary hearings, reinstated.

Eventually an investigation was carried out and the council forced to admit its errors, repaying £250,000 between 16 care home residents.

Last month, council cabinet studied another 270-page independent report into Mr Martin's bullying claims.

The review, although confidential, was of such a damaging nature that council leader Cllr Jeff Green was moved to issue an unprecedented apology on behalf of the authority.

It was made to both Mr Morton, for the "appalling" manner in which he had been treated, and to the 16 care home residents, whom he said had been "ripped off" by the council.

Councillor Green said the former employee was treated disgracefully, offered him his job back and issued a warning those responsible for the bullying will be disciplined.

A further, wide-sweeping investigation into the overcharging has been conducted and its findings are scheduled to be published at the end of May.