A Spanish golf trip arranged by a Dundee City Council contractor and attended by two senior staff members was not declared on the authority’s gifts and hospitality register, it can be revealed.
Edmundson Electrical confirmed the council’s former head of Construction Services Mark Ross and colleague Kenny Muir attended a “customer event” it organised in May, just weeks after the company was awarded a lucrative smoke alarm contract.
Mr Ross and Mr Muir have both been involved in a major corporate fraud probe into the deal, which an investigation by The Courier established was awarded to Edmundson without ever going out to tender.
Official records show the golf trip, which was arranged by the firm, was never recorded on the authority’s gift and hospitality register, a list of items or services provided to employees by external organisations.
The register’s guidance note states staff must not accept any gifts or hospitality from a supplier or contractor.
Dundee City Council’s legal department and chief executive David Martin have both said Edmundson Electrical was subcontracted the deal by its Construction Services department, where both Mr Ross and Mr Muir worked.
It is understood documentation has been provided to the local authority to support claims the pair paid their own way for the trip. Mr Ross and Mr Muir have also claimed they were not involved in negotiating the supply contract.
Dundee City Council refused to comment on how such an excursion should be recorded when employees claim to have paid for themselves.
However, councillor Kevin Keenan – convener of the authority’s scrutiny committee – insisted staff should not attend any trips organised by council contractors and if they do, details should “at least” be properly declared.
Mr Keenan said: “It seems to me a company like Edmundson would realise they shouldn’t be offering a trip like this to council staff, whether they paid for it themselves or otherwise.
“The perception of hospitality is one thing but I would have thought some of these things would at least have to be declared.
“These events aren’t just about ‘can you come up to our warehouse and see how we stack our shelves’. The council needs to give a clear explanation of what’s going on.”
The guidance note attached to the gift register states any offers of hospitality “may not be accepted unless with the prior approval of the chief executive, who will also determine whether it should be declared”.
Dundee City Council refused to say whether Mr Martin was aware of trip prior to the fraud probe.
The authority also initially refused to turn over its gifts and hospitality register but was later forced to provide details using Freedom of Information legislation.
According to the document, no council employee recorded gifts or hospitality provided by Edmundson Electrical or its sister company the Electric Center at any point between May 2017 and late October 2019.
Mr Ross quit his role as head of Construction Services in the midst of the council probe, telling colleagues he was standing down due to ill health. Mr Muir was suspended after his name was passed to investigators by a whistleblower.
It is understood fraud officers are currently probing the alleged misuse of a council vehicle by Mr Muir, and that he is still currently employed by Dundee City Council.
A spokesman for the authority said: “The council does not comment on individual personnel matters and it would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Edmundson Electrical previously said Mr Ross and Mr Muir “covered their own expenses” for the trip and were not involved in negotiating the supply arrangement for the smoke alarms. It did not respond to a request for comment.
Mark Ross and Kenny Muir declined to comment.
Timeline: How The Courier broke the story
April 2019 – Edmundson Electrical begin supplying heat and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to Dundee City Council after the Scottish Government ordered authorities to improve safety in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell fire.
May 2019 – Two senior council employees attend a golf trip on the Spanish coast arranged by Edmundson.
October 19 – Council bosses are accused of putting up a wall of silence after an investigation by The Courier reveals the lucrative smoke alarm contract was awarded to Edmundson without ever going out to tender. The authority refuses to say whether a fraud probe has been launched.
November 8 – It is revealed head of Construction Services Mark Ross has resigned in the midst of allegations he attended the golf trip. Mr Ross told staff he was giving up the role due to ill health.
The convener of Dundee City Council’s scrutiny committee Kevin Keenan confirms he warned bosses about concerns passed to him by members of the public months earlier.
November 9 -Business in Dundee come forward to say they repeatedly tried to raise concerns about the awarding of the contract and attempted to submit rival bids.
The council corrects its previous statement and says for the first time Edmundson was subcontracted the deal by Mark Ross’ Construction Services department.
November 13 – It is revealed a second senior employee, Kenny Muir, has been suspended after his details were passed to investigators by a whistleblower.
November 29 – Edmundson Electrical confirms both Mr Ross and Mr Muir attended the trip buts insists the pair “covered their own expenses”. The firm says neither party was responsible for negotiating the supply arrangement for the smoke alarms.
Dundee City Council refuses to turn over its gifts and hospitality register for employees.