media & legal strategies
confidential hotline 0845 528 0706

Council Whistleblower

Evening Standard Newspaper - October 2012

Council whistle blower Peter Duncan contacted us claiming that that accounts were being manipulated and this had affected policy.

We helped Mr Duncan get legal representation and had his story placed in the Evening Standard newspaper.

Evening Standard article.

Westminster council’s finance chief allegedly manipulated accounts to paint a falsely bleak picture that helped force through cuts to jobs, pay and public services, a tribunal heard.

Barbara Moorhouse, chief operating officer at London’s most powerful town hall, ordered staff to “doctor the numbers” and “hide” up to £18 million to make it seem like finances were in disarray, according to a whistleblower.

Peter Duncan, a former financial analyst at the council, claimed Ms Moorhouse ordered that cash be moved between accounts without approval, which helped to “manipulate the reality of an underperforming department”.

He told London Central Employment Tribunal Ms Moorhouse provided misleading figures to councillors which influenced decisions such as job cuts, withdrawal of services, and performance-related pay. He said her accounting was “effectively fraudulent”.

In two years Westminster has made budget cuts of £100 million, slashing adult daycare by half and home care by a quarter. Mr Duncan was at the council from 2008 until last year, when he says he was victimised for whistleblowing. He filed a statement with the tribunal but the case was dismissed after a ruling that he brought it two days late.

Mr Duncan, 32, who was represented by lawyer Paul Grant of Bernard, Chill & Axtell, said Ms Moorhouse told him to implement “unlawful” manipulation: “The financials were being adapted to match Ms Moorhouse’s pitch to Cabinet members.” When he raised this with his immediate boss, deputy finance director Anna D’Alessandro, he claims she “kept screaming at us”, saying “just f***ing do it … that is career-limiting”.

Westminster said: “Peter Duncan was a contractor. Around the time he was notified his contract would not be renewed, he brought allegations against other staff and the council. There was no supporting evidence and the claims were contradicted by other staff.”