WALTHAM FOREST: Council ordered to release secret report into fraud claims

First published in Waltham Forest

A SECRET report into allegations of fraud against the company which used to manage schools in Waltham Forest must be made public, it has been ruled.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has upheld a complaint by Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith concerning the council’s refusal to release the findings of a fraud probe into private contractor EduAction.

The council between 2004 and 2006 paid the company £240,000 from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) to help 100 vulnerable children under the Youth At Risk programme.

An investigation was launched when a number of whistleblowers claimed the pupils had not received any support.

Revelations about the mismanagement of NRF and the Better Neighbourhoods Initiative, which were designed to help the most deprived parts of the borough, eventually led to widespread financial chaos within the council being uncovered.

But the authority has refused to make the findings of its EduAction investigation public, initially claiming it would hinder the council’s own investigation into the affair.

When an investigation was launched by the Information Commissioner, the council then argued that parts of the report should be withheld on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.

It later emerged that this argument originated from EduAction itself.

The Commissioner rejected these arguments, but ruled that certain information in the report relating to EduAction employees, council officers and “peripheral individuals” should be withheld as disclosure of their involvement “would be likely to cause them significant distress”.

However, the names of those responsible for the council investigation should be revealed, it was decided.

Following the ruling on June 30, the council must make the report public within 35 days or launch an appeal.

Andrew Kilburn, who as council chief executive ordered the first independent report into the council’s mishandling of millions of pounds of taxpayers money, was recently forced out of his job.

Iain Duncan Smith said: “The public has a right to know what happened with these contracts – particularly in the wake of Andrew Kilburn’s departure.

“There are questions that need to be answered. The council cannot put this off any longer – it must now release the report so that we can get to the bottom of this.”

A police investigation into the allegations found there was a lack of evidence to prosecute EduAction.

Comments (7)

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12:32pm Mon 5 Jul 10

Heartlysmum says...

What is the betting they appeal?
What is the betting they appeal? Heartlysmum
  • Score: 0

3:08pm Mon 5 Jul 10

NT says...

I understand that the allegations which the Council's Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team made are now described as "serious". Given what we already know about the relationship between LBWF and EduAction, and the documents that have already been disclosed, the use of this word, in this context, is surely very significant.
I understand that the allegations which the Council's Corporate Audit and Anti-Fraud Team made are now described as "serious". Given what we already know about the relationship between LBWF and EduAction, and the documents that have already been disclosed, the use of this word, in this context, is surely very significant. NT
  • Score: 0

7:30pm Mon 5 Jul 10

Walthamster says...

Is it possible that finally, finally, we may see some justice being done?

I have lost count of how many investigations have uncovered serious wrong-doing inside the council, and how many contracts have been discovered to have broken the rules, and how many millions of pounds have gone missing.

The worst of it all has been that there were no penalties, no money had to be repaid, no one lost their job (except the whistle-blowers), and no one was ever prosecuted. They must have just laughed at each new set of revelations. There was never any comeback, no matter what they did.

Good for Iain Duncan-Smith if he gets some action taken. But if an MP can do this, why did our Labour MPs never speak out about this abuse?
Is it possible that finally, finally, we may see some justice being done? I have lost count of how many investigations have uncovered serious wrong-doing inside the council, and how many contracts have been discovered to have broken the rules, and how many millions of pounds have gone missing. The worst of it all has been that there were no penalties, no money had to be repaid, no one lost their job (except the whistle-blowers), and no one was ever prosecuted. They must have just laughed at each new set of revelations. There was never any comeback, no matter what they did. Good for Iain Duncan-Smith if he gets some action taken. But if an MP can do this, why did our Labour MPs never speak out about this abuse? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

9:29pm Mon 5 Jul 10

Techno2 says...

Walthamster wrote:
Is it possible that finally, finally, we may see some justice being done? I have lost count of how many investigations have uncovered serious wrong-doing inside the council, and how many contracts have been discovered to have broken the rules, and how many millions of pounds have gone missing. The worst of it all has been that there were no penalties, no money had to be repaid, no one lost their job (except the whistle-blowers), and no one was ever prosecuted. They must have just laughed at each new set of revelations. There was never any comeback, no matter what they did. Good for Iain Duncan-Smith if he gets some action taken. But if an MP can do this, why did our Labour MPs never speak out about this abuse?
Very good question. Why is Stella Creasy MP, former Mayor and Labour Whip at Waltham Forest Council so astonishingly silent about all these issues regarding the financial malfeasance at a council of which she was once a leading member and where people who stood on the same party ticket as her are still in charge?
[quote][p][bold]Walthamster[/bold] wrote: Is it possible that finally, finally, we may see some justice being done? I have lost count of how many investigations have uncovered serious wrong-doing inside the council, and how many contracts have been discovered to have broken the rules, and how many millions of pounds have gone missing. The worst of it all has been that there were no penalties, no money had to be repaid, no one lost their job (except the whistle-blowers), and no one was ever prosecuted. They must have just laughed at each new set of revelations. There was never any comeback, no matter what they did. Good for Iain Duncan-Smith if he gets some action taken. But if an MP can do this, why did our Labour MPs never speak out about this abuse?[/p][/quote]Very good question. Why is Stella Creasy MP, former Mayor and Labour Whip at Waltham Forest Council so astonishingly silent about all these issues regarding the financial malfeasance at a council of which she was once a leading member and where people who stood on the same party ticket as her are still in charge? Techno2
  • Score: 0

11:07pm Mon 5 Jul 10

md-j says...

'.. disclosure of their involvement “would be likely to cause them significant distress”.

Handcuffs can be SO uncomfortable, after all.
'.. disclosure of their involvement “would be likely to cause them significant distress”. Handcuffs can be SO uncomfortable, after all. md-j
  • Score: 0

8:41am Tue 6 Jul 10

myopinioncounts says...

And to think that council workers such as school staff and school coach drivers who received little gifts from grateful parents were supposed to hand them in to the 'Mayors Fund'.
And to think that council workers such as school staff and school coach drivers who received little gifts from grateful parents were supposed to hand them in to the 'Mayors Fund'. myopinioncounts
  • Score: 0

8:33pm Sun 11 Jul 10

stevewhite says...

Private management: good, pubic management: bad. That was the mantra of the Labour government and councils. The answer to this from the Tory government will be to have even more private management, this includes Ian Duncan Smith.
The giant mess that the Tories will make of education in this and every other borough will make the Eduaction fiasco look like good management. That said they do need to be held accountable for the missing money and if found guilty, they need to pay every penny back. It might be a good idea to get rid of VT as well and hand all services back to the council. At least we can vote them out when they mess up.
Private management: good, pubic management: bad. That was the mantra of the Labour government and councils. The answer to this from the Tory government will be to have even more private management, this includes Ian Duncan Smith. The giant mess that the Tories will make of education in this and every other borough will make the Eduaction fiasco look like good management. That said they do need to be held accountable for the missing money and if found guilty, they need to pay every penny back. It might be a good idea to get rid of VT as well and hand all services back to the council. At least we can vote them out when they mess up. stevewhite
  • Score: 0

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