Lincs Echo exposes council scandal

Echo: won battle to publish report

The Lincolnshire Echo has succeeded in its 10-week campaign to have a report into sleaze at Lincolnshire County Council made public.

Audit investigators have spent almost three years and £450,000 of taxpayers’ money probing allegations of bullying and illegal payments.

In February the Echo launched a campaign to have the findings published.

Last week, a copy of the 65-page report was handed over to the Echo. It confirmed revelations that councillors had threatened and intimidated officers into making a series of secret illegal payments, which cost taxpayers in Lincolnshire more than £1m.

It also urged the council to consider taking legal action to recover the money or discipline officers and councillors who were implicated.

A team of eight Echo reporters and designers, spearheaded by council correspondent Sharon Edwards, worked through the night to put together a special early edition for the next day.

The special carried details of the report across its first seven pages.

Editor Mike Sassi said: "We had a good idea the auditors had found some fairly damning evidence of sleaze. However, until the Echo got involved they appeared to have no great desire to tell anyone else about it."

By Jean Morgan

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