PR boss departs as Wigan Council inquiry into documentary nears end

An investigation by Wigan Council into its participation in an embarassing documentary on ITV is expected to conclude later this month, after the council said its head of PR had resigned shortly before Christmas.

Wigan Town Hall: Who was to blame over the ITV documentary?
Wigan Town Hall: Who was to blame over the ITV documentary?

The June 2015 documentary led some viewers to suggest ITV's portrayal of council workers as lazy and the council itself as ineffective was deliberately negative, while others questioned the council's decision to let the documentary go ahead.

Shortly after its airing, the council opened an "independent investigation" into the documentary, and placed its chief executive in temporary charge of its PR team, after head of PR Chris Dunbar was suspended from his duties.

Another director at the council who had been involved in the documentary resigned in September, and then shortly before Christmas the council released a statement saying that another employee had resigned.

The statement from Sonia Halliwell, assistant director for HR and OD, said: "Wigan Council can confirm that it has received and accepted the resignation of an employee in relation to the programme Don’t Blame the Council.

"This follows an in-depth investigation into their part in the production and airing of the programme. None of the employees who have left the council's employment following the programme have received any payments, neither have any agreements been entered into."

Dunbar confirmed to PRWeek that he had left the council, but declined to comment further.

A member of the council PR team today (Tuesday) told PRWeek the investigation was nearing its conclusion and should be complete by the end of January.

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