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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Council to appeal 'whistleblower' case
Andy Sutton and legal team
Andy Sutton, second left, arrives for the meeting
Councillors in north Wales have voted to appeal against the decision of an employment tribunal, which ruled a former internal auditor was prevented from carrying out his work.

At a meeting last night, Flintshire Council was warned there could be "serious repercussions" if the authority failed to challenge the judgment in favour of "whistleblower" Andy Sutton.

Flintshire County Council sign
The council will meet at the end of September

Mr Sutton attended the meeting on Monday night, which was held behind closed doors.

Earlier this year, a tribunal found Mr Sutton had been compelled to quit his job after being stopped from accessing documents linked to alleged fraud at the council.

After looking at its options, Flintshire council leader Alex Aldridge announced the decision to appeal.

Mr Aldridge said failure to do so could send the authority into a "financial maelstrom", as other former employees are beginning actions against them.

He added acceptance of the tribunal's findings may set a precedent.

Andy Sutton
Andy Sutton: 'Not suprised by decision'

Mr Sutton resigned in April 2001 after he was taken ill with stress and anxiety.

Following the Flintshire council meeting on Monday night, Mr Sutton said: "It does not surprise me at all that the council is appealing."

The earlier tribunal hearing at Shrewsbury ruled the former auditor had been constructively dismissed after being blocked in his attempts to uncover the truth about scandals within the Flintshire authority.

The tribunal had criticised the authority's chief executive Phillip McGreevy, the county secretary Andrew Loveridge and another senior officer Kerry Parry.

The panel said the officers had "appeared unconvincing witnesses".

Freedom to Care, a support group for whistleblowers has now called for the suspension of the three senior officers pending an independent inquiry.

'Golden handshake'

Cases Mr Sutton investigated included how an administrative officer had allegedly become the second highest paid employee in Flintshire during the inquiry by Sir Ronald Waterhouse into abuse in children's homes in north Wales.

He was also exploring why an employee entitled to 12,000 received a 32,000 golden handshake deal.

Other cases include the controversial purchase of a 600,000 farm in Malpas, after a tenant farmer was moved from land marked for development on Deeside.

But the business development later fell through and North Wales Police were called in to investigate the matter.

After winning his case, Mr Sutton, from Wrexham, had said he could not "turn a blind eye" to incidents at the council.

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Andy Sutton
"It does not surprise me at all that the council is appealing"

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