Council bosses in Dundee have been accused of operating “behind a curtain” over a major corporate fraud investigation which has now embroiled a number of authority employees.
Dundee City Council has been urged to provide clarity over a probe into an £8.3 million deal to supply heat and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors after repeatedly rebuffing direction questions.
A series of investigations by The Courier has established the lucrative public contract was subcontracted to Edmundson Electrical by the council department Construction Services without ever being put out to tender.
Head of Construction Mark Ross quit in the midst of a probe into allegations he was taken on a golf trip to the Spanish coast by bosses at Edmundson. Mr Ross told colleagues he was standing down due to ill health.
It was revealed yesterday electrical estimator Kenny Muir has been suspended after having his name passed to investigators by a whistleblower. It is understood a number of other staff members are also the subject of ongoing inquiries.
The local authority has had more than four months to deal with allegations after being warned by the convener of its scrutiny committee Kevin Keenan in July, council leader John Alexander in August and a whistleblower in September.
Dundee City Council refused again yesterday to say whether details had been passed to police or to offer a response to growing calls for answers, instead reissuing the same statement it has put out since the story first came to light.
North East MSP Bill Bowman highlighted the strain on other council staff and said the authority “cannot allow the uncertainty to drag on”.
“The way the matter has been dealt with – behind a curtain for months – leaves a sour taste,” he said.
“I don’t think that approach is doing anyone any favours. As it is, the employees of Dundee City Council are being left in the dark. The effect this will have on morale, among small teams and departments, is hard to overstate.”
Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra also hit out at the lack of information and said it is “about time Dundee City Council clarifies what is going on”.
Council bosses admitted for the first time last week they had launched an investigation into the claims but have been accused of keeping Dundee group leader Kevin Keenan “in the dark” after he raised concerns in writing four months ago.
Mr Keenan said he raised the issue because he was not prepared to have a situation “where this is being talked about in every pub and every street corner in Dundee and the only place it isn’t being discussed is in the council chambers”.
It is understood Dundee City Council did not pass details of its investigation to Audit Scotland but the watchdog said it is now “aware of allegations of fraud” and will give “appropriate consideration to this as part our 2019/2020 annual audit of the council”.
Police Scotland have confirmed there is “no ongoing investigation” by officers into any of the individuals named.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said it “does not comment on individual personnel matters and it would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation”.