NI Water: Did whistle-blowing lead to a switch in contract?

I’ve uploaded this whistleblower correspondence. What passes as acceptable practice in DRD at the most senior level, does not measure up to its own policy standards. Here we have a complaint to the Permanent Secretary from the owner of Contracting Out, Sue Holmes. The original complaint is not included, but you can see from the paper trail that despite an explicit request from the complainent that the correspondence not be shared with anyone but the addressee.

Within three hours on a Sunday afternoon, the correspondence has been shared with the very person who is being complained about such that in the follow paper trail he, Laurence MacKenzie suggests alternative contractors for the work that Holmes was then undertaking for DRD. That Contractor, Deloitte, did indeed take on CO’s work on the Steria contract racking up a bill several times the size of CO’s for an action that was eventually pulled at a considerable but as yet unknown cost to the public purse.

(Note that there is no question over Ms Holmes’ bona fides, either here or anywhere else in this story. Indeed, Slugger understands that she was carrying out work for no less than the NI Audit Office right up until Midnight before the PAC meeting on July 1st).

It’s an extraordinary conversation, but it is not the first time that DRD have by one means or another disclosed the identity of a whistleblower to the person or organisation being complained about. In one complaint about the running of the Rathlin Island Ferry contract the department, in contravention of its own whistleblower policy, clearly identified the person making the complaint in public documents.

Finally, can I say that I had originally planned to make this correspondence available on Monday. That I hadn’t owes much to my own family situation at the moment which means I am and will continue to spend much time away from  Slugger. Can I appeal to people to be moderate and reasonable in their remarks.

If you wish to complain about any individual comments, could you direct them to my colleague Paul Evans at as I may have difficulty in picking up mail over the next few days.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty