Information held regarding Operation Nightingale, partner Organisations (specifically Defence Archaeolgy Group) and external contracts.
Dear Defence Infrastructure Organisation,
Dear Sir or Madam,
May I refer you to a previous Freedom of Information Act request - FOI2017/05744, 7 June 2017, and your respective reply, 3 July 2017, and the content therein.
Your reply gave adequate explanation of the points raised within the initial enquiry and no request was raised at this juncture for an independent internal review. However, the last few month's, our enquiries have raised further concerns , detailed herein, and I ask you to review, and respond to these new concerns; which may be considered to be within the 'public interest'.
We request the Ministry of Defence, DIPR, and specifically Defence Infrastructure Organisation (hereafter referred as DIO) to make information available contained within documents, for example, but not restricted to: records of meetings, minutes, applications, registrations, and information within the public domain. Which cannot be classified as 'restricted' or subject to any other Act, preventing public disclosure, for example, Section 42 (1), where it can be deemed the information is in the 'public interest' and, publication of such would not in any way be considered 'harmful' or 'prejudicial' to any legal party involved.
The nature of the enquiry forms five key areas of enquiry:
i) The initial concept and implementation of 'Operation Nightingale' as a defence programme from 2011-12 to present, and its protection as a 'brand' for defence use, and subsequent copyright of the name. With a request for information on which organisations are 'officially' partnered with 'Operation Nightingale' activities... if their excavation's and associated activities are authorised under sub-contract (private) or MOD contracts.
ii) The Instigation of the Defence Archaeology Group, its date of official registration, partner organisations, and method of 'membership'. If details of this organisation were made public and by what media, and its current role in association with 'Operation Nightingale' and its partner organisation's. Finally, as an entity what formal registration process did it operate under prior to 2017 and registration as a Private Limited Company outwit the MOD, (see below for further explanation).
iii) What exercises (as they are referred too) or excavations have been undertaken by Operation Nightingale from its conception to present date, within the United Kingdom, European Union or overseas country. Specifically, where conducted, roughly what date's, number of veterans, serving military personnel involved, and if conducted under the auspices of the Defence Medical Services or similar support programme.
iii, a) Did the MOD, DIO, DMS or similar organisation or 3rd party agency conduct any evaluation on the programme as a whole, the benefits of the programme in supporting Veterans, benefits to community Archaeology and external programmes. Were, the participants offered access to further educational studies or employment skills development as part of the programme, and if possible to indicate, by what Educational establishments, or organisations.
iii, b) Where such evaluation was undertaken, is the resulting report within the public domain, and could DIO, indicate the name of the report and registry under which it is held. If such as report is for internal review only, you could indicate such was undertaken, or that a report was commissioned by an external party, and the month/year it was undertaken.
iii, c) If such a report or study was undertaken, were participants anonymised and their permission requested? In a similar fashion, were media publications involving participants (unless by an unknown source such as social media or a private blog), vetted by MOD Media and again permission given to provide personal details (names) or photographs. Where such was undertaken, can DIO confirm that permission given was in the form of a signed document by the participant?
iii, d). Did such permission extend to the use of such details or photographs (unless express permission given for that specific purpose) to their use for private presentations on the programme and the benefit of Archaeology with WIS/Veterans. These include presentations at Archaeology Conferences or Registered Societies, Community Groups, by members of DIO, and were any of these presentations sanctioned and approved by the MOD or DIO?
I refer you to official (as in MOD copyrighted) photographs, pertaining to Operation Nightingale, which contain individuals with Serving Personnel and Veterans on various MOD sites.
iv). What military estates where these exercises conducted upon, although we respect that specific locations can be subject to non disclosure, and under what authority? Where veterans where engaged on these exercises, under whose authority were they engaged and what monitoring organisation supervised their involvement? This could include details of any support organisations, such as charities or 3rd Party organisations involved, for example, but not restricted too, Archaeology Companies, Universities or Community Interest Groups.
v). Where veterans or civilians where engaged on such exercises and excavations, for example, university students or contracted personnel (Director of Operations, Site Supervisors etc). Under what method of contract were they engaged, for example, was Operation Nightingale or DAG ever a 'membership organisation' into which membership fees were paid. Have participants ever been asked to contribute to the costs of these exercises, either in terms of travel, accommodation, etc. When on site, as veterans, students of contractors, what Insurance was in place for their safety while on the Military Estate, within accommodation on Military Bases (UK and Overseas) and or use of Military Transport, for example transport to Akrotiri, Cyprus.
Information requested under the above key areas of enquiry.
a) In your initial reply of 3 July 2017, you indicated:
"Operation Nightingale as a programme has been a defence programme from the outset. An initial meeting on this subject between Defence Archaeology Group (DAG) and Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), Environmental Support and Compliance agreed that the Operation Nightingale "brand" should be protected for defence use. MOD officials where present and representing DAG at this meeting. Registration of the Operation Nightingale brand for defence was unanimously agreed by those present. Subsequently a meeting was held with major stakeholders where registration of the brand for defence was also approved."
Please could you clarify some of these points in more detail. Although, it is a matter of public record that two individuals, both employed by the Ministry of Defence conceived the programme, and that subsequently it was approved by the MOD, how was Operation Nightingale as a 'brand' initially registered.
It is public record that, the Trade Mark or Copyright Registration of the name was not made until 13 January 2017 (filed 21 October 2017) [UK00003192564] upon an attempt by one of its founders to register the Trademark of Operation Nightingale and Operation Nightingale Heritage on or about the same period.
Previous exercises had been conducted by members of Operation Nightingale Heritage, involving accommodation on Military Estate, with attendance by representatives of DIO and DAG, and senior military representatives, with membership (by fees) of the Defence Archaeological Group. Can DIO or its representative organisations explain, why no previous objections where raised as to the use of the name 'Operation Nightingale Heritage' prior to these events or during? Why were some of these events publicised by MOD Media Services, and attend by serving military personnel and officials, if no formal objection was made?
If the registration was not filed until October 2017, under what common or statutory law was the 'brand' initially protected?
Can the DIO conform or deny that information received from reliable third parties (unnamed at this time) but connected with the MOD, indicate that objections where raised to Copyright the 'brand' at this time. That they as members of DAG or DIO did not give their permission for programme to be copyrighted in such a manner: as it contravened the initial concept fo the project.
b). Under what authority was DAG instigated, under what department of the Ministry of Defence or partner organisation did it conduct its duties and, to whom was it directly responsible? Could you clarify details of its membership structure, format of membership and application process, from the signing of the Constitution in 2012, in terms of partner organisations (not specific individuals). Was membership open to specific groups of individuals, such as veterans, civilians (for example students) or Academic Institutions (as partners), and what was the method of application? Were records of membership held by the MOD, separate agency or an individual (Membership Secretary)and, where membership fees applicable? If a membership organisation, were public meetings held, for example, an AGM, and are records of these meetings accessible for public record, under FOI or DPA.
i) In an initial enquiry raised regarding reports that DAG had been disbanded or at least a majority of its membership had resigned their roles, you replied: "DAG has not been disbanded". "The current programme of Operation Nightingale activity is delivered by a number of partner organisations in agreement with DIO who grant uses of the Operation Nightingale title.
Therefore, you implied that DAG was in existence as an entity, (to be defined by previous question) and, as such had a governing body or general membership. The minutes of such if open to veterans and civilians (as participants where asked on occasion to become members) must be 'open' record (subject to restriction of personal details under DPA). Therefore, there must be a record (perhaps minutes) available which indicates that the membership where requested to consider the 'registration of the brand' and 'copyrighting of the name 'Operation Nightingale'.
Could the DIO or its senior advisors also explain why if DAG existed as an entity from 2012 to current period, and was never disbanded, it has been recently 'registered' as a Limited Company by a serving Army Officer and his Wife (assumed relationship) on 22 August 2017, as the 'Defence Archaeology Group Ltd.', Company number 10927718.
The registration address is that of a Company Formation Organisation and not associated with the MOD or an official representative, and the personal addresses of the Director and Secretary (names withheld for privacy) are related to an Army Barracks associated with the Defence Medical Services. This implies a link to the Defence Medical Services and in affect the owner and sole director of this Company is a serving Army Officer and not the MOD?
Could you indicate if DIO was aware of this registration and can you confirm if it 'officially' approved by the MOD and if there is no conflict under Queens Regulations and or Standing Orders for an serving Officer to be a Director of a 'Public Limited Company'?
May I also draw your attention to the fact that for a other year or so a website (in the public domain) 'dag.org.uk', has indicated it operates as the official home page of the 'Defence Archaeology Group', with the same contact address for the aforementioned Company registration in London.
The deep concern is that this site is still operational (we assume with the approval of the MOD) and on its 'Donation' page states (we also assume with MOD approval):
"To enable our Veterans attend Op NIGHTINGALE collaborations, requires an superfluous amount of financial support, potentially to provide flights, accommodation, feeding, excavation tools and in some historical cases even clothing. That said, the returns of benefit to these individuals and to those who support our programmes, far outweigh any economic factors. As a Not for Profit organisation, the Defence Archaeology Group currently signposts potential candidates to the enormous array of Military Charities to assist with their potential funding."
"It is intended that the DAG will be able to directly Sponsor individuals in future with your help, any donation toward this worthwhile cause would be vastly appreciated. If this is something that you would like to contribute to, then please use the PAYPAL link below or email [email address] for further queries."
There may not be anything sinister as regards this website, its operation or request for donations, but under the current climate of 'Walter Mitty' or bogus operations as highlighted in the national media and Veteran Support Groups' and Charities. Can the DIO confirm or deny that this site is linked 'Officially' to the MOD or DIO, and that all donations (if any) have been accounted for and supplied to Operation Nightingale participants? If it is legitimate, it must have made these donations to the MOD 'branded' programme in some format, and thus open to public record, if DAG existed as an entity prior to its registration go August 2017 to the same Company Address?
If the site is considered bogus and the Company registration of DAG was not approved by the MOD, DIO or its legal representatives. Could DIO acknowledge both my own and concern's of fellow veterans, and investigate this matter further or pass our information to the relevant authorities for further investigation. In respect of the FOI, if the website is approved and officially represent's DAG as an MOD organisation, can you explain under what authority it was instigated, registered, and details of any funds raised by this site under its donations page, subject to public record?
c) In relation to 'exercises' (excavations or related activities) conducted by 'Operation Nightingale' and its partner organisations from its concept and branding in 2012 to date. Can you clarify the number of exercises undertaken, there exact dates or approximation (month, year), there exact or general location (if need to protect site information), by whom authorised and if possible indicate by whom supervised. For each exercise, could you indicate (approximations satisfactory in terms of percentage) how many people involved, number of veterans, civilians, for example, students or support personnel, outside agencies involved (subject no privacy ruling). What institutions supported these excavations, for example, English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, CADW, or Universities, Colleges, and if the latter established at the time or offered a formal mode of study or educational programme to the participants involved?
Was Operation Nightingale, ever involved in any formal evaluation of skills programme or institution registration programme as offered by, for example but not limited to, the 'Skills Passport' (BAJR), or CIfA (Chartered Institute of Field Archaeology)?
Where candidates went onto Academic studies or similar programmes offered where their fees subsidised by the MOD as part of any form of ELC credits, or bursary programme?
Under what authority where applicants (if non serving) allowed access to Military Estate, either as excavation sites, with military accommodation or use of transportation services, and how where (in general terms) these funded? If accommodation was provided on military premises, were the participants charge for these services or funded by the MOD or its agencies, outside charities? Was Insurance cover provided for participants, with support by Defence Medical Services or similar agencies for Physical and Mental Health, where appropriate and, was screening of candidates (in general terms) undertaken to assess suitability for the project or develop a suitable 'work programme' or 'self development' programme of activities.
Where exercises were conducted by any derivative of Operation Nightingale and its Partners, for example, Operation Nightingale Heritage, Breaking Ground Heritage or Wessex Archaeology. Where formal objections ever raised as to these exercises (excavations) being conducted, there access to Military Estate or accommodations, use of Transport (example being Akrotiri in Cypress).
Where any complaints made (in general terms) regarding the conduct of any officials or representative partners during these exercises, in particular, bullying, racial discrimination or sexual discrimination, or unsafe working practices resulting in injury?
If such complaints where made (no specifics need be indicated as to the actual complaint) where they fully investigated at the time of the event or subsequently? Where Operation Nightingale or its representative organisations ever requested by a National, Public or MOD authority, within the UK or overseas, not to further participate in excavations on a particular site?
Where you previously stated: "No Contracts or financial payments have been granted to Breaking Ground Heritage by the MOD." Could you clarify how its participants were allowed access to Military Estate, and accommodated within Military Accommodation with access (reliably informed) to military transportation. Indeed, we are aware that some participants where sponsored by various Veteran Support Agencies, and could have been funded by Breaking Ground from there fund's.
However, unless the participants were under the jurisdiction of 'Operation Nightingale' and thus the MOD and, in consideration that they where asked to become members of 'Breaking Ground Heritage'. How, where they allowed onto Military Estate (England and Scotland) and conduct excavations if there is no formal contract with DIO or the MOD (paid or unpaid)? If their 'members' conduct or assist in excavations on Military Estate, there must be MOD Insurance for the work undertaken and members 'onsite', thus a form of contract must exist!
They state there are a partner organisation of 'Operation Nightingale' which implies a formal contract, so could you explain, how an organisation is made a 'partner'? If there is a formal application procedure, available for general access by 'interested' parties? Unless public record's have not been updated, would it not be subject to normal business practices and or MOD/Civil Service Guidelines for the Director of Operations for Operation Nightingale, not to formally disclose his association to Breaking Ground Heritage as a signatory to the CIC mandate?
d) Finally, in your previous response you indicated two key points which raise further questions.
"Under Section 16 of the ACT (Advice and Assistance) you may find it helpful to note that there is no intention of opposing any organisation/group undertaking community archaeology with or without the WIS/Veterans unless there is inference that it is being undertaken under the MOD registered trade mark or as an MOD supported activity."
"MOD officials are unaware of any evidence of bullying or harassment by MOD staff. If there is a complaint you wish to raise..."
Ok, so if there is no objection and the Ministry of Defence of defence is unaware of any 'bullying' by MOD Staff to any group or organisation undertaking community archaeology with or without WIS/Veterans. Can DIO explain, when evidence can be shown that one of more Archaeological Organisation's in England and Scotland have been contacted to discourage their participation with 'Operation Nightingale Heritage' and the forming of an organisation with a name not contravening the Copyrighted 'branding'? This being in writing by a representative of Operation Nightingale and DIO?
Yes, there is the similarity with the name. However, unless a formal objection was raised as to the conducting of excavations and projects by this group prior to the TM registration and subsequent, and to best of my knowledge, no objections have been raised. Why contact these individual organisations and 'pressure them to dissociate from these projects?
Moreover, conferences and publications have been contacted asking for presentations or papers to be removed by one of the founders of the original programme, which use the name 'Operation Nightingale' in a historical context of the development of the programme.
However, as stated previously, it is in the public record that certain individuals representing 'officially' or independently have been made at major conferences, presentations to Royal Societies and Professional Institutions, or Community Archaeological Societies and Groups, with no similar objections?
Can the DIO confirm if it is aware of any such official contact with outside organisations or Academic Institutes on this subject area or an individual is making these statements independently with the authority or jurisdiction of the MOD or DIO?
To this end can the DIO state on record if any contact had been made with Archaeology Scotland or Historic Environment Scotland or there representatives regarding proposed projects or programmes under development which may involve WIS/Veterans, by one of its employees?
As outlined in my previous question, if a group or organisation are able to apply to become an approved partner of 'Operation Nightingale'. Why has a group (details can be provided if required) based in Scotland, been discouraged from applying for assistance from 'Operation Nightingale' for possible excavations - adjoining (no upon) a former military site.
It has been brought to my attention at two recent conferences that two persons (one identified as representing DIO or the MOD) and one associated with the current Operation Nightingale, have stated in open conservation that in principal, no studies or excavations will be undertaken in Scotland unless by Operation Nightingale or its partners. When questioned if this meant only on MOD estate land, it was indicated this meant not only on estate land, but any project which deemed to support WIS/Veterans as not part of an approved MOD Sanctioned Project.
Understanding a lot of interrelated questions have been asked and lot of information requested, which may rest with partner organisations or require further legal consultation(s).
However, you are formally asked to reply to the request within the statutory period or indicate your request for a delay or why certain information cannot be made available.
Dear Mr Spence,
Your request has been logged under our reference 2017/12912 and the target date for response is 10/01/2018.
Please find attached letter in relation to your recent FOI request.
Defence Infrastructure Organisation
Dear Defence Infrastructure Organisation,
Ref: FOI 2017/12912
Dear Sir or Madam,
May I refer you to your letter of 10 January 2018, and the content therein in response to the current FOI request as referenced.
In your reply you requested a continuance of 20 working days under Section 42 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act: Information Subject to Legal Professional Privilege, where in all cases an assessment of the information held, must be made to establish the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
You indicated a date of 7 February 2018, for your reply or request a further continuation if a decision could not be reached by that date. Although, only 24 hours have elapsed this deadline has not been adhered too, now making it over 40 days for a response to a simple FOI request.
Although I acknowledge certain questions were raised which may involve legal counsel, the activities of third partners or individuals associated with the MOD and its partner organisations. A proportion of the information requested is in the public domain, for example, official MOD media resources, public media (newspapers, TV reports), Archaeology and Heritage Publications or Conference Reports and Paper's.
All that was requested were answers to specific questions which consolidated this mixed data, and certain issues raised which have an interest to Veterans Support Groups, Charities, Archaeological, Heritage and Commercial organisations who may wish to review, support and or develop similar models. For example, Operation Nightingale USA, which has existed from 2105-16, and appears unlisted as a partner organisation.
It has been suggested by certain individuals involved with this programme and its partners, the previous and current FOI requests ... are "a means to discredit Operation Nightingle..." or "merely vexative, by a former member of the programme, disgruntled and attempting to discredit its membership..." (q. v.)
The above statements made by an individual associated with a partner organisation at a public conference held recently. Which for the record hold no bearing in fact, as these requests are made without malice or similar intent. It is our intention to merely establish and clarify certain information held which is considered to be of interest to the Archaeological and Heritage Community, Service Veterans, Supporting Charities and Groups and the wider public.
Where Veterans are provided a support programme by the MOD, supported by 3rd party organisations -which may or may not be receiving assisted funding via formal contract. Where it is established (withholding details for privacy), known issues of conduct and or safety have occured or been raised with appropriate authorities.
Would it not be considered in the public interest to at least acknowledge and respond to the general questions raised, for example, how the programme started, its format, prior to copyright, what department oversaw the programme. How was it assessed, etc. Why only recently copyrighted? What is DAG, how operates, and again why only recently registration made as a Company (Public Record)?
Legal counsel have advised that baring the possible exemption of sensitive questions raised, for example, if certain complaint's raised, or methods of contract, funding, partner organisations etc. Those questions on numbers of participants, exercises, assessment of the programme, educational and work skills opportunities etc., are of a wider public interest regarding the programme, and its suitability for referring veterans or supporting its activities.
To claim Section 42 - legal privilege would imply that questions have been raised which may have legal aspects; either as current investigations or future. If this is indeed the situation, it would still be in the public interest to acknowledge certain concerns exist and are at leat being investigated. Failure to respond to certain questions on copyright issues, Operation Nightingale and DAG as an entity prior to recent Copyright and Registration as a Company (Public Domain), have implications that concerns exist which the MOD and DIO wish undisclosed.
What is privileged that the MOD cannot disclose basic statistics, etc., unless these records do not exist. Why fail to acknowledge if DAG existed as a membership entity and who controlled by prior its recent registration, if a public entity, and providing funds for such 'exercises' it must have accountable records.
If currently programmes are being run on DIO administered estates with outside organisations such as Breaking Ground Heritage and Wessex Archaeology (Scotland). Subject to privacy under contractual law, why can DIO not even confirm if these veterans are protected by MOD or third party liability insurances (especially using MOD transportation and premises), or if subject to formal medical (physical and mental health) support programmes while undertaking these exercises.
What skills development is offered, training or educational courses, how is this assessed, how do you approve and monitor the quality of training given. These are not difficult questions to answer, although I acknowledge can require a lot of collated information (which should already exist if monitoring is in situ). Why claim legal privilege if no issues exist?
Certain Scottish Veterans Charities, Support Organisations and Groups, SMP's, senior serving and Veteran Officers, are further concerned with a former reply to the initial FOI request of June 2017, whereby you also claimed Section 42.
Your office stated that no objection would be raised to the establishment of any programme or events which utilize Archaeology or Heritage as a medium for Veterans or WIS. The only Provision '... it must not imply it is part of an officially sanctioned MOD programme or use part of the name Operation Nightingale.'
Furthermore, you indicated no awareness of any bullying and intimidation of members of outside organisations, for example, Operation Nightingale Heritage or Project's Scotia, etc. However, documentable evidence can be provided that indicates individuals indicating they act on behalf of both Operation Nightingale and its Partner organisations: Breaking Ground Heritage and Wessex Archaeology; have made potentially libelous and inflamed remarks and allegations against members of other Organisations at public Conferences and meetings.
In addition, please clarify if DIO officially sanctioned or were aware of requests made to Conferences, Seminars, Publications and Academic Papers, also contact with Archaeological Trusts and Charities (including my former employer) to remove papers or presentations which reference Operation Nightingale in a historic context, participation in (by a member) or as model for similar projects within the community sector. However, such sanitized presentations can be made by DIO staff and its partners!
It can be shown that interference has been instigated by at least three individuals to discourage such projects being developed, and a statement made that Operation Nightingale and its Partners are the only 'Official' programmes! So again we ask how is project or organisation approved and 'monitored' as an 'Operation Nightingale Partner Organisation', if such Organisation's, for example Operation Nightingale Heritage (now restructured and renamed) or Projects Scotia, Heritage Warrior, could not be approved?
Are partner Organisation's under the management of DIO and the MOD if on military estate or using military services, subject to review if there may be issues if conduct, welfare or safety issues?
To which department should any complaint of such be addressed for investigation.
This further delay is considered unsatisfactory and ask that you advise with 48hrs of your intentions regarding this current request. Failure to comply, may result in further legal counsel being sought and escalation to higher authority and request for Internal Review.
Awaiting your reply at your earliest convenience.
Thomas E. Spence
Dear Mr Spence,
Your FOI request (ref 2017/12912) is in the final stages of clearance, and
we hope to be able to respond shortly.
Dear Mr Spence,
Please find attached the response to your recent FOI enquiry to the
Ministry of Defence.
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