When a whistleblower reported that he believed he had been witness to “the deliberate sabotage” of the Rural Payments system, the Scottish Government responded by attempting to close the matter with a terse letter from the Head of HR.
On the 16th February, 2015 the head of HR wrote to the whistleblower as follows:
“I am writing in relation to the concerns you raised in emails to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment on 29 November 2014 and the First Minister on 1 December 2014. You also raised related concerns in a number of emails to [an assigned] HR Business Partner all of which were submitted under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. In [the absence of the assigned HR Business Partner who is] on annual leave, I am writing to advise you that, after thorough investigation, this matter is now closed.”
The letter went on to say:
“I would also like to remind you that you should not disclose your concern to anyone else outside the Scottish Government.”
Appalled at the attempts of Scottish Government to “gag” him, the whistleblower passed the full letter straight on to the Economic Crime Unit who had been instructed by The Crown, and back to the First Minister and Richard Lochhead who had both forwarded his original whistleblower report to the Scottish Government.
In the email of 16th February 2015, which has been seen by ourselves, the whistleblower reiterated his concerns that he believed he had been witness to “the deliberate sabotage” of the project. He also believed that the Scottish Government was attempting to gag him from reporting his concerns to the regulators and Government Ministers.
Despite some 20 witnesses subsequently coming forward and offering to testify for the Economic Crime Unit, only two people have reported that they had been interviewed in relation to the Rural Payment IT System.
In subsequent correspondence and statements with and to the authorities, the whistleblower stated that he believed that the farmers would pay the ultimate price if the behaviour he was reporting continued unchecked.
Police Scotland recently confirmed that the investigation has been passed back to the Home Office for them to continue.
The Rural Payments System which has now cost some £200million pounds has since been described as unfit for purpose and the farmers are indeed paying the price, as are their suppliers.
A senior developer who worked on the project commented, “If the First Minister and Richard Lochhead had taken seriously the reports that were made to them, perhaps the rural economy would not be in such a mess now.”
The whistleblower recently contacted the office of Tavish Scott, offering to testify at a Public Inquiry and produce evidence to support his reported concerns.