The Scotsman

Bell inquiry: revelation­s nine years ago


A whistleblo­wer at the heart of Edinburgh City Council’ s inquiry into the actions of Sean Bell, a social work manager who died while awaiting trial on historical sexual assault charges, has revealed he raised issues about an alleged assault involving Mr Bell almost a decade ago, but they were ignored.

The former council employee also raised concerns with senior managers about intimidati­on and bullying of staff by Mr Bell as well as inappropri­ate use of public funds.

Letters seen by The Scotsman reveal how the whistleb lower highlighte­d an assault allegation, and the internal concerns of staff about how their department was operating under Mr Bell. The whistleblo­wer has said he will now speak to the independen­t investigat­ion launched by the council in the wake of Mr Bell’s death, but that no-one had yet contacted him.

Mr B ell was found dead at Edinburgh' s Salisbury Crags in August, a month after he was charged with historical crimes.

The council has since agreed to launch two investigat­ions - one into the administra­tion’s actions over Mr Bell and a second, wider inquiry into the current and past culture and practices of the local authority.

A senior social work manager, Andy Jeffries, has already been suspended as a "precaution­ary measure”.

In his letters from 2011, the whistle blow er tell show a woman at that time joined his team in a temporary position, but that so on after star ting she came to him “distressed", alleging she had been physically assaulted.

He writes: “She disclosed to me that on the previous evening she and Sean Bell had a disagreeme­nt about a trivial matter … she was visibly shak

en and in tears during this disclosure and showed me a mark on her neck that had occurred during the assault she was alleging.”

He goes on to say the female member of staff had told him this was “not an isolated incident”, but that she wanted to get “medical help” for Mr Bell.

He writes that he advised her to seek help from a women’s aid organisati­on, but also that given her role, and the fact Mr Bell oversaw the team, he would raise it with a senior manager.

The whistleblo­wer did take the matter further while still employed by the council, and raised a Fair Treatment at Work complaint.

It found “fault on both sides”. The council’s then monitor

ing officer, Alastair Maclean, also looked at how that investigat­ion had been carried out and admitted that“in hindsight are view by another department would probably have been preferable”.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokespers­on said: “The council is committed to ensuring that any allegation­s or concerns are investigat­ed thoroughly and as quickly as possible.

"Asset out in the report to committee last month, we’ve already taken steps to begin a full review into these matters and we will shortly be announcing the appointmen­t of an independen­t chair to lead the inquiry.”

 ??  ?? 0 Edinburgh City Council has launched two inquiries into the conduct and culture of its staff
0 Edinburgh City Council has launched two inquiries into the conduct and culture of its staff

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