Whistleblower treated as 'criminal'
Published 23/01/2013 | 18:45
A whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption within the Northern Ireland Fire Service (NIFRS) has said she has been made to feel like a criminal.
Linda Ford, a senior accountant, was suspended from her job after making 13 allegations about the service.
She won £20,000 in compensation after taking a case against her employers and has since returned to work at fire service headquarters in Belfast.
Giving evidence to the Stormont health committee, Ms Ford claimed she had not been permitted to resume her old duties and was banned from speaking to former colleagues in the NIFRS finance department.
"For doing the right thing I believe I am being punished," she said.
Before returning to work, Ms Ford also received a letter of apology from Department of Health Permanent Secretary Andrew McCormick.
Ms Ford said: "When I received the apology I believed I was vindicated.
"When I returned to work and I continue to be treated like a criminal I find it very difficult.
"My treatment for doing the right thing has been appalling and continues."
Last October, health minister Edwin Poots called for urgent and fundamental change at the fire service. Alleged fraud, unapproved bonuses and failure to deal adequately with staff grievances had been highlighted as cause for concern by three investigations.
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