Council chiefs have thrown up a veil of secrecy around the awarding of a lucrative public contract to an electrical firm who treated senior staff to a golf trip on the Spanish coast.
Members of Dundee City Council’s scrutiny committee met on Wednesday to discuss a report into the scandal but were left without answers to a number of key questions.
A series of investigations by The Courier uncovered head of construction Mark Ross attended the so-called “customer event” with colleague Kenny Muir.
The trip was arranged by Edmundson Electrical just weeks after it was handed a deal worth more than £4 million to supply heat and smoke alarms.
Mr Muir was also found to have removed branding from a council vehicle and used it for his own private use.
The pair were charged by police under the Bribery Act but prosecutors dropped the cases last year citing “insufficient evidence”.
Talking behind closed doors
Almost three-and-a-half years after we first revealed details of the trip, council bosses say they are only willing to discuss some of the most important details of the case behind closed doors and away from the public.
During the scrutiny committee meeting, head of democratic and legal services Roger Mennie said it is policy not to comment on individual personnel cases in public.
He said correspondence from prosecutors outlining why legal cases against Mr Ross and Mr Muir were dropped could not be made public but that he was “happy to share the letter with members in confidence”.
It is understood prosecutors believe there was insufficient evidence the pair were directly involved in awarding the contract to Edmundson Electrical.
Mr Mennie rebuffed questions relating to who did sign off on the supply contract with Edmundson and how senior a member of staff would have to be do so.
He told committee members that his advice was that “any information which is to be shared should be shared in confidence separate from this meeting”.
Unanswered questions on vehicle
Councillors were told it would also not be possible to publicly address how council branding was removed from the vehicle used by Mr Muir.
They would not say how he was able to keep it for personal use for so long or how the council later discovered this was the case.
Labour councillor Kevin Keenan, who is convener of the committee, confirmed he raised concerns four years ago.
He said: “I raised with the former chief executive the fact that people were on golf outings, or that I’d heard that.
“And I also raised the fact that a vehicle was being used for private use, that the liveries had been removed, and I even identified the type of vehicle.
“I’m wondering why it’s not forming part of this report and why there’s not a bit more detail in relation to that.”
Four years on and no answers
Mr Keenan said it is his understanding the vehicle used was a Ford Ranger and would have carried leasing fees of around £500 a month.
He said he was told the vehicle was regularly refuelled at a council facility at the expense of Dundee residents.
The Labour councillor added: “I was looking for more detail from officers around that vehicle given that I raised it.
“I also raised it at a confidential briefing that we had, and that I kept confidential, and I was told my questions would be noted down and that I would be given answers.
“A former chief executive and other members of the management team around the table were at that meeting.
“I don’t have answers and we’re now four years on.”
Chief Executive Greg Colgan said he would be happy to confirm with Mr Keenan “outwith the meeting what those questions are so we are responding fully”.
But Robert Emmott, the council’s executive director of corporate services said the report had deliberately been written so it can be presented publicly.
He said some details requested by Mr Keenan could only be made available privately.