Back from London this morning to a 'gathering storm' ...
... I've mentioned this ongoing saga on a couple of occasions before; in August 2010 here and in October 2010 here.
Well, today it took a whole new twist that is really nothing to do with the previous issue of the single debt repayment, but more to do with the very integrity of the political leadership of the City of Edinburgh Council.
The Scottish Parliament Public Audit Committee report into the whole fiasco (published today - here) raises some very serious questions about just how the City of Edinburgh Council is currently being led.
Detailed written evidence, now publicly available, from both the Council's former Head of Communications and also from the Council's current Media Manager, directly contradicts oral evidence provided by the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council. Both sets of evidence simply cannot be accurate (see notes below) and this led the Scottish Parliament Committee to conclude that they had "serious concerns regarding the quality of the oral evidence from the Council witnesses and does not consider their evidence to be credible."
This is a damning indictment of the current Council Leadership and the oral evidence they presented, especially when one considers that the Parliamentary Committee that approved this report, did so on an all-Party basis with no division of opinion.
I believe it is now essential that the Council's own Audit Committee is allowed to undertake an investigation, as basically requested by the Parliament, to ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned from this damaging episode and that proper procedures are in place to prevent such a situation from ever occurring again.
The full Scottish Parliament report can be accessed here
(1) Paragraph 188 of the PAC report states: The Committee also considers the Council handling of the clearing and issuing of the press release to be unacceptable. The Committee hopes that the Council will undertake an investigation into the circumstances leading to the contradictory evidence it provided. The Council may also wish to clarify its lines of accountability and procedures for clearing press releases.
(2) Paragraphs 160-163 of the PAC report outline the Council Leader and Deputy Leader's oral evidence about the approval of the 15th October 2009 Press Release; paragraphs 169-173 outline the entirely contradictory written evidence of Council Officers on the very same issue.
(3) Paragraph 187 of the PAC report states: The Committee has serious concerns regarding the quality of the oral evidence from the Council witnesses and does not consider their evidence to be credible.