Claim that Tanner inquiry findings prompted Edinburgh City Council manager's resignation

An Edinburgh council employee at the centre of an investigation launched after the death of a social worker who was due to stand trial on historical sexual abuse charges, resigned after he was shown the content of the inquiry report.

Andrew Kerr, chief executive of the City of Edinburgh Council. Picture: Greg Macvean

Andy Jeffries, a senior manager in the Children and Families department, had been suspended on a “precautionary basis” after the local authority launched an investigation into the handling of complaints against social work manager Sean Bell.

It was revealed Mr Jeffries resigned last week, ending his 32-year career with the local authority. Council sources claim his departure came after he was shown the findings of an independent inquiry report.

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Susanne Tanner QC is investigating how the council handled internal and external complaints made against Mr Bell, who was found dead on the Radical Road at Edinburgh' s Salisbury Crags on August 27 last year.

He had been facing a criminal trial for allegations of historic sexual assault, domestic abuse and rape, and the woman at the centre of the criminal case said she had raised her concerns about Mr Bell three times with the council since 1998, yet "nothing was ever done". It is not known if she ever spoke directly to Mr Jeffries.

However, another whistleblower alleged Mr Jeffries, who had been Mr Bell’s manager, did not act when internal complaints about his behaviour were made. He had raised issues about an alleged assault involving Mr Bell almost a decade ago, which were ignored.

He had also raised concerns with senior managers about intimidation and bullying of staff by Mr Bell as well as inappropriate use of public funds.

Edinburgh council’s chief executive Andrew Kerr is understood to be the only council employee who has read the full report, although standard protocol requires people mentioned in it, such as Mr Jeffries, are shown the relevant sections. It is believed he was shown those sections two weeks ago.

An internal disciplinary procedure against Mr Jeffries was also halted on his resignation, despite council policies stating that such processes can continue in the event the member of staff quits.

He is the second senior council official to resign amid the Tanner inquiry. Last October, eight days after Mr Jeffries was suspended, Alistair Gaw, the-then executive director of communities and families, resigned with immediate effect for “personal reasons”.

Iain Whyte, the Scottish Conservative group leader on the council, said: “Sudden and immediate resignations are all too often what happens in serious council disciplinary cases.

"The council itself now needs to be given every reassurance that all options have been explored. Anything less erodes public confidence in the council.”

There has also still been no confirmation of when the report will be made public, as while it was originally meant to be made available to councillors later this month, that timescale has now shifted and it will be “presented in due course”.

A council spokesperson said: “The chief executive commissioned Susanne Tanner QC to lead a full and independent inquiry into the late Sean Bell’s conduct and the council’s response to that. She is being supported by a highly experienced investigations team from law firm Pinsent Masons. The inquiry is now in its final stages and Ms Tanner’s report will be presented to councillors for their consideration in due course.”

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