Swindon Council sacks whistle-blower

A Swindon social worker who set up a website criticising the
performance of the social services department was sacked last week
at a council disciplinary hearing.

Deborah Rees described the hearing as a farce and said that the
council had already decided to sack her and were not interested in
any of the reasons behind her whistle-blowing.

Rees had been suspended from her job as a planning officer for
adults with learning difficulties at the Wiltshire council six
months ago, after she went to the local press with her complaints
and six days after the website she set up – www.swindonboroughcouncil.com
– went live (news, page 14, 30 January).

On the website, she accuses council leaders of ineffective and
incompetent management and says a strong blame culture is in
operation. It also alleges that institutional bullying,
discrimination and victimisation are rife in the housing and social
services departments.

She criticised the lack of protection for people working in social
services who choose to whistle-blow and said that she had received
many e-mails from other employees keen, but too scared, to do so.

“I would like there to be a support network for people working in
social services so that they don’t fall into my situation,” Rees

She is still considering whether to appeal against the decision.

A Swindon Council spokesperson said Rees had been dismissed for
“failing to exhaust the internal complaint procedures that were
open to her” before going public with her criticisms, but refused
to make any further comment until after any appeal procedure had
been completed.

An internal investigation into Rees’s actions reported that the
site was “unbalanced” and “damaging to the council” with
“inappropriate references to its officers and members”.

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