Dame Julie Mellor's evidence to PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation costs

The request was partially successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::

The information required:

Request Title within scope.

::

In her January evidence to PACAC , Dame Julie Mellor seems to be roughly referring to the comparative table of ombudsmen in other countries, ( World Table) which I worked out last time PASC asked for evidence - when she states '£88k a case', as the amount she gives is in line with mine.

My figure was slightly less than hers : £83,333
(Unit resolved case cost - which is the total cost of organisation divided by resolved cases)

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

Which made the PHSO bottom of the World Table.

::::

This year she says...

'If you take cost per investigation as a crude measure of value for money in terms of the efficiency of an organisation, we went from costing £88,000 per case to now costing £6,800 per case. Where we were a significant outlier in terms of cost per case among public ombudsman services, we are now in the middle. Yes, we do think we can bring that down further and the 24% reductions will mean that will come down to about £5,000 a case' .

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

::::.

This time, I worked on a new comparative table( via Annual Reports and emails) replacing World ombudsmen with UK ombudsmen...being more relevant to costs to the UK taxpayer.

The PHSO's comparative figure this year was -stated by Dame Jukie Mellor- was £7515, so the PHSO was still at the bottom of the UK table being much more expensive than:

The Welsh Ombudsman: £1829
Scottish Ombudsman: £653
and the Financial Ombudsman:£534 - (which recoups its expenditure).

My statistics were from the PHSO's own 2014/5 report and from other 2014/5 annual reports and private emails.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

Which, of course is a better indicator - but the figure doesn't match.
So Dame Julie Mellor must be referring to a table of the PHSO's own devising.

:::

I would therefore like to read the information which enabled Dame Julie Mellor to use such a ' crude efficiency measure ' as comparison to show that the PHSO is now ' in the middle' ..of (presumably) a table - or list.

And the background figures and information used to construct this 'middle' comparison offered as evidence to PACAC.

This would include internal emails, or specific reference links to Annual reports, from or to other Ombudsmen to check the comparative statistic presented.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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D. Speers left an annotation ()

Will be very interested in reply to this Excellent FOI request.....thank you for asking Jt!

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

EXCELLENT request!

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Bravo! Too many MP's were laid back at that PACAC meeting. Your request demonstrates the level of scrutiny that the public sought from our elected representatives.

"If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed."

FionaWatts@magnacarta300

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248100)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 15 February 2016 in which you
asked for all information relating to a statement made by Dame Julie
Mellor in the January PACAC scrutiny session relating to the cost of

 

As you may be aware, section 10(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA) allows a public authority to extend the 20 working day limit for
responding to an information where it requires more time to determine
whether or not the balance of the public interest lies in maintain an
exemption.

 

In this case, we are considering the exemptions at section 36(2)(b) (i)
and (ii) FOIA which relates to the effective conduct of public affairs and
need some additional time to determine where the balance of public
interest lies.  We will provide you with a further response by 13 April
2016.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316692 email]]
Sent: 15 February 2016 22:00
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Dame Julie Mellor's evidence to
PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation costs

 

     Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
    
     I am writing to make an open government request for all the
     information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
     Act 2000.
    
     Please send me recorded information, which includes information
     held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
     documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.
    
     If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
     clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
     understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
     assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).
    
     If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
     all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
     will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
     the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
     charge excessive fees.
    
     If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
     can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
     necessary.
    
     If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
     grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
     copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
     information should not be treated as confidential if such an
     agreement has not been signed.
    
     I would like the above information to be provided to me as
     electronic copies, via WDTK
    
     I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
     the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
     grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
     this request.
    
     ::::
    
     The information required:
    
     Request Title within scope.
    
     ::
    
     In her January evidence to PACAC , Dame Julie Mellor seems to be
     roughly referring to the comparative table of ombudsmen in other
     countries, ( World Table) which I worked out last time PASC asked
     for evidence - when she states '88k a case', as the amount she
     gives is in line with mine.
    
     My figure was slightly less than hers : 83,333
     (Unit resolved case cost - which is the total cost of organisation
     divided by resolved cases)
    
    
[3]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     Which made the PHSO bottom of the World Table.
    
     ::::
    
     This year she says...
    
     'If you take cost per investigation as a crude measure of value for
     money in terms of the efficiency of an organisation, we went from
     costing 88,000 per case to now costing 6,800 per case. Where we
     were a significant outlier in terms of cost per case among public
     ombudsman services, we are now in the middle. Yes, we do think we
     can bring that down further and the 24% reductions will mean that
     will come down to about 5,000 a case' .
    
    
[4]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     ::::.
    
     This time, I worked on a new comparative table( via Annual Reports
     and emails) replacing World ombudsmen with UK ombudsmen...being
     more relevant to costs to the UK taxpayer.
    
     The PHSO's comparative figure this year was -stated by Dame Jukie
     Mellor- was 7515, so the PHSO was still at the bottom of the UK
     table being much more expensive than:
    
     The Welsh Ombudsman: 1829
     Scottish Ombudsman: 653
     and the Financial Ombudsman:534 - (which recoups its expenditure).
    
     My statistics were from the PHSO's own 2014/5 report and from other
     2014/5 annual reports and private emails.
    
    
[5]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     Which, of course is a better indicator - but the figure doesn't
     match.
     So Dame Julie Mellor must be referring to a table of the PHSO's own
     devising.
    
     :::
    
     I would therefore like to read the information which enabled Dame
     Julie Mellor to use such a ' crude efficiency measure ' as
     comparison to show that the PHSO is now ' in the middle' ..of
     (presumably) a table - or list.
    
     And the background figures and information used to construct this
     'middle' comparison offered as evidence to PACAC.
    
     This would include internal emails, or specific reference links to
     Annual reports, from or to other Ombudsmen to check the comparative
     statistic presented.
    
     Yours faithfully,
    
     Jt Oakley
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
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     [6][FOI #316692 email]
    
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     Information requests to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman?
     If so, please contact us using this form:
    
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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I'm really surprised that Dame Julie Mellor could inform PACAC using statistics - but when a request is made for these statistics there seems to be a problem in providing them.

Surely Dame Julie Mellor was quoting authoritatively?

So why would these statistics then become secret?

D. Speers left an annotation ()

I believe these statistics MUST be in the public interest and therefore MUST be made available!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Since FOIA request responses have to be approved by External Affairs and there are one or two problems the 39 of them are working on at the moment, this might be a reason or the delay in providing the stats that Dame Julie Mellor gave in evidence to PACAC.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Dame Julie Mellor's evidence to PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation costs'.

Qualified person’s opinion is needed to engage the exemption
15. The qualified person is required to give a reasonable opinion about the likelihood of prejudice or inhibition under section 36(2). The qualified person’s opinion is crucial in order to engage the exemption. If the opinion is not given by the appropriate person, then the exemption cannot apply.

16. As section 36 is a qualified exemption, the public authority may, if necessary, under section 10(3), extend the 20 day time limit in order to consider the balance of public interest, but they must still, under section 17(1), inform the requestor within 20 days that section 36 is engaged and why.

No proper explanation given as to the 'why' this request has not be answered.

Just quoting S 36 and 'public interest' is too vague.

There is clear evidence of a public interest since Dame Julie Mellor has made a public statement on this tabke, so at least the table should be readily supplied even if some internal communications are witheld.

So why isn't it in the public interest that the basis for publicly given evidence to be supported with the factual information on which it was given?

Section 36 can only be engaged when the qualified person has given their opinion. This means that the public authority should obtain that opinion within 20 days before they can extend the time limit to consider the public interest test. However, section 36 can still be engaged if the qualified person gives their reasonable opinion by the completion of the internal review (see below under Internal reviews).

Therefore the opinion must have been obtained within 20 days, before the extension can take place.

17. Therefore, public authorities wishing to apply section 36 should identify who their qualified person is and obtain their opinion in good time in order to carry out the public interest test.

The qualified person has not been identified. Aand, as a PHSO qualified person, surely Dame Julie Mellor must be able to make a quick decision on whether or not she was telling the truth about the table?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your correspondence.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Dame Julie Mellor's evidence to PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation costs'.

Review on the grounds that if Dane Julie Mellor is quoting statistics to PACAC with authority, then the figures should be available quickly.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your correspondence.

++Feedbackaboutus@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

 

We are writing in response to your email of 22 March 2016.

 

We are sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your
information request.

 

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to
our Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve
Brown.

 

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once
his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review
that we will undertake.

 

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

 

Kind regards

 

 

Customer Care Team

 

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248100)

 

I am sorry you are unhappy with our handling of your information request. 
Unfortunately we are still awaiting a decision in relation to the
application of s36 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 

 

We will respond to your request as soon as possible and I hope to be in
touch again shortly.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316692 email]]
Sent: 22 March 2016 10:38
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Dame Julie
Mellor's evidence to PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of
investigation costs

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Dame Julie Mellor's
evidence to PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation
costs'.

Review on the grounds that if Dane Julie Mellor is quoting statistics to
PACAC with authority,  then the figures should be available quickly.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[4][FOI #316692 email]

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

At this stage it very much looks like that this mystery table was handed to Dame Julie Mellor without her checking its veracity.

Because otherwise, as a QP she could very quickly de use on the public interest of producing her own quoted table for scrutiny,

Whether or not it ever existed - or how it was contrived if it did - is open to examination, since her evidence was public and given to PACAC. Therefore her public statement puts it into the public domain. And so does its veracity.

The QP's in this case are Dame Julie Mellor and Steve Brown.

Both of whom could be examining whether it not the public -and PACAC - should know how the mystery table was drawn up.

The PHSO seems to be marking its own public statement homework -yet again.

I'm sure that the public can draw its own conclusions as to why this evidence is being kept secret.

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

.... hang on? I thought that our elected representatives might have asked for the stats too?

J, did PACAC make ANY attempt at scrutinizing the stats?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I think they just take her word for it assuming that she is telling the truth.

Here's her evidence :

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

WHY? WHY? WHY?

...... Is this sloppy management of accounts and complaints acceptable with the majority of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee ...?

Turning a blind eye? WHY?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Looks like yet another embarrassment for the PHSO - unable to substantiate its public statements .

As it states, PACAC monitors complaints about the ombudsman on behalf of the public and the ombudsman is supposed to give a truthful account, backed up with the relevant stats to this committee.

What if PACAC members, on behalf of the public, had asked 'What table?' 'What stats?'.

Presumably Dame Julie Mellor had the stats at her fingertips and could reply instantly to any questions - to have made such an assertion.

So why is a 'public interest' determination even being considered?

On this basis, and with an extended public interest determination in mind, I can see why there have already been calls for Dame Julie Mellor's resignation.

::::::::

Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee -
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) examines constitutional issues and the quality and standards of administration within the Civil Service.

It also scrutinises the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We are a committee of Members of Parliament appointed by the House of Commons and drawn from the three largest political parties. We work principally by undertaking inquiries. We choose our own subjects of inquiry and seek evidence from a wide range of groups and individuals with relevant interests and experience. We produce reports setting out our findings and making recommendations to the Government. We monitor complaints about the Ombudsman as a way of scrutinising the work of her office and identifying systemic problems, but we will not consider individual cases.

Diana Smith left an annotation ()

What happened about the Select Committee' s involvement regarding the senior counsels opinion over the gagging of 20,000 complainants a year by the PHSO over a decade, where it was stated two pieces of government legislation was used in circumstances where it should not have been. I know the Select Committee were going to put questions to the PHSO , but nothing more appeared to come out. This is also indicative of the " disengagement process" , introduced in 2008 by Land Registry , that was used against me by Robbie Crane ( Head of Civil Bills at Legal Services Commission, now the LAA) , in July 2009. All the staff at LSC then wrote to Mr Crane for a copy of his letter disengaging me, so they could send same to me rather than answer for their failures over TEN YEARS, for not correcting the Legal Aid Charge for someone else on LSC forms, filed in error in the caution register at Land Registry, in order to record a " caution" , for property / land ( 50 acres) , recorded as me being the proprietary owner ( proprietary register). Mr Crane ( who previous to 2002 , headed up the Land Charges Division for LSC), was the person who in 2002/2003, together with Cathy Ayton ( now still part of the LAA but with Crown Prosecution Services), was meant to be assisting with made up charges against me for costs l did not owe. In Early June 2002 , District Judge Toombs , at a hearing not disclosed to me, found in my favour over the costs and no one told me. At that time two- thirds of the correct published ( on an ADMIN 1FORM) legal bill had been paid with a written offer from myself to pay the difference up to the amount on the Admin 1 Form. It was FORTY- THREE STAFF at LSC who covered up for over thirteen months and my taking the initiative taking it back to Court on 1st July 2003 , to find out l had by then overpaid my legal bill by £500.00p. I still have the letter from LSC in 2003 promising reimbursement of my expenses for the further hearing, that in 2009 Carolyn Reegan as their Chief Excutive promised would be sent to me, then she resigned suddenly and l was disengaged with. The PHSO were meant to take up my complaint to them in March 2009 , whereby my investigating officer was to investigate Land Registry / LSC and the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry. Instead a commissioner for LSC sat as a deputy adjudicator over a Land Registry Hearing that should not have happened. Mr Crane admitted to me in July 2009 that none of this should have been allowed to happen and it was now a conflict matter. Great when you consider the live in partner of this barrister/ commissioner/ deputy adjudicator , is none other than the Director of Legal and Governance ( person who handles conflict of interest matters involving LSC staff), being Ruth Wyatt , who is Mr Cranes boss. Quite apart from anything else l copied in all agencies , including Land Registry, and LSC and Land Registry's Privacy Statements at that time meant lodged complaints were held and referred to for a period of six years. If my complaints letters lodged by recorded delivery to both Land Registry and LSC in 2003, why then was no one listening in February 2007 when l further complained? Why was property / land , confirmed in writing and verbally in February 2007 , then allowed to be included into a First Regstration Claim on 26 th July 2007 , when only the day before there was an adjudication against Land Registry sending literature to me and others in the UK by The Advertising Standards Authority? The PHSO were informed prior to the Land Registry Hearing of the CAR CRASH SITUATION of the previous involvement of Land Registry and LSC and the involvement of Mr Crane to assist in getting information under the Data Protection Act , and stood by while a barrister with a definate conflict of interest , was glib in ridiculously handing away my recorded registered land, of which other parties were also seeking to deprive me or properties / land , rising off the back of a supposedly " totally paperless claim, based solely on declarations " that Land Registry did not release to any of the Five Parties , raising objections to such a claim.

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248100)

 

When I wrote to you on 14 March 2016, I explained that we needed
additional time to consider where the balance of public interest lies in
relation to this request.  I advised that I would respond again by 13
April 2016.

 

I am afraid it has not yet been possible to reach a decision on some of
the information which is relevant to your request.  However, we hope to
have reached a conclusion on this issue shortly and in any event no later
than 13 May 2016.

 

I am able to provide you with some information today, however, which you
can find in the attached document.  This details information derived from
annual reports which informed the statement made by Dame Julie at the
PACAC scrutiny enquiry of 12 January 2016 in relation to investigation
costs.  I hope it is helpful. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for the annual report information but may I remind you of the terms of the request.
It is specific to the statement that Dame Julie Mellor gave to PACAC and the evidential statistic, which she gave to the committee - .£6,800.

'If you take cost per investigation as a crude measure of value for
money in terms of the efficiency of an organisation, we went from
costing 88,000 per case to now costing 6,800 per case.

:::
You have provided this information:

Cost per completed investigation £36,809k/4159 = £8,850

Cost per case investigated or resolved without needing a full investigation £36,809k/5,058

= £7,277

Therefore you have not provided the requested comparative list to which Dame Julie Mellor referred in her evidence to PACAC, or how her figure of £6,800 was compared - via the list criteria - to other Ombudsmen.

:::

In addition, I do not require sight of Ombudsmen's annual reports - which have now been put online.

Some of my research was collected just before PACAC - and mostly from emails from the ombudsmen, as the Annual Report statistical information was not available online for 2015/6.

:::
As this is an FOIA request, the request specifies the file information that Dame Julie Mellor had pre-PACAC , so that she could a truthful statement could be given to PACAC .

And expand on the information on the comparative table - if questioned by PACAC members.

::::

Please therefore either confirm or deny that the £6,800 case comparison list was, or was not - on PHSO file at the time that Dame Julie Mellor gave her evidence to PACAC.

If it was, please provide it.

And, if not, where did Dame Julie Mellor get the evidential figure of £6,800?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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Diana Smith left an annotation ()

Hi J T Oakley,
this is reminiscent of my being able to obtain confirmation from The Adjudicator to HM Land Registry ( Kevin Sadler) in late October 2009 , that misleading literature was provided to the UK Public and same misinformation being on their on line website for the same timelines ; and both corrected at the time it was confirmed to me. Statistics on how many received this misleading information were blocked by The Information Officer at the AHMLR vacating his post ( after sending me confirmation that my FOIA was a valid one and that he would comply with it). The Information Commissioners Office advised resending my FOIA to the Office Manager at the AHMLR , who was Andrea Gardiner at that time. Ms Gardiner totally ignored me for my FOIA and also in the matter of a member of staff at the AHMLR failing to raise matters of my involving the PHSO that l had coped the AHMLR into , that then because it was ignored, allowed for a Deputy Adjudicator ( barrister) that had a conflict of interest to sit over the Land Registry Hearing ( 2 day hearing). The ICO would only advise chasing up the Office Manager at the AHMLR , by this time a Margaret Haig. Again my FOIA request was not replied to , but in theory she looked into the other aspects involving the member of her staff who failed to flag up the involvement of the PHSO, that was still allowed for the totally overlooking of the conflict of interest involved. It would appear the wheels move all at the wrong speeds, as in Dame Julie Mellor and her stated figures. In my case issues could not have proceeded to allow already involved parties at Legal Services Commission ( now The Legal Aid Agency), because of my stating their already involvement to the PHSO through my MP , and my MP confirming my involving LSC head of Civil Bills as the " best course of action". In the SEVEN YEARS of my involving the PHSO , I have yet to receive any credible response.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

FoiAct
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations.

::::

The information that I require was held BEFORE (or on )Dame Julie Mellor gave evidence on January 12.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

::::

In addition the Scottish Ombudsman has already publically criticised the evidence given by the PHSO on comparative statistics .

Written submission to PACAC on behalf of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (PAR 66)

Following your recent scrutiny session with the PHSO, we wanted to correct a misunderstanding about our practice that might arise from the answer given to question 102. Ronnie Cowan MP was asking about the relative efficiency of the offices. Mr Mick Martin was correct to answer that it can be difficult to assess this because of different terminology and, indeed, we are operating in different contexts and with different legislation. Mr Martin said we concentrated on “decision statements” and suggested these were different from what they would call providing an investigation report. I can confirm that we did investigate in full the 944 cases last year referred to by Mr Cowan and that in each of those cases the individual and organisations received reports of those investigations. They all received a detailed decision with a clear statement as to how we had investigated, whether or not the individual points of complaint were upheld or not, the facts on which that decision was made and recommendations for redress/improvement if we found problems. We followed up on all of those recommendations. (1,444 in 14/15).

We think it is important that as much of our work is transparent. We publish each month a compendium of information about our work and the decisions we have made. This includes reports of most of our investigations (928 for 14/15). Most of these are short summaries which highlight only the main points of the detailed investigation letter which will have been sent to the parties. We do publish the most significant or public interest investigations in full (ie the entire report is put in the public domain). There were 46 of these last year. In order to explain the difference between the types of public reports we refer to the summaries as decision reports and the full reports as investigation reports. This is to help people navigating our website and does not mean that people who have received a detailed investigation report but not had the full contents published have received a significantly different service or that we did not investigate. It seems to us likely that Mr Martin has confused the way we publish our work with the service we are providing. We understand PHSO (in 14/15) published quarterly reports of some summaries of selected cases. The summaries they published were very similar in length to the decision reports we publish and PHSO clearly refer to these as summaries of cases they investigated and, we understand, do not differentiate between those and cases they put in the public domain in full when reporting on how many investigations they have completed.

It would not be our normal practice to comment on the evidence given by PHSO to the Parliament and we do appreciate this will have been a genuine misunderstanding on Mr Martin’s part but did think it was important to clarify this point when it might, unintentionally, have given a misleading view of the work we undertake.

January 2016

::::

So it us a justified request to ask how Dame Julie Mellor arrived at her evidence.

:::

As all the PHSO's Foia requests have to go through the External Affairs department, it appears someone has trawled the Internet for information presented to the public at a later date - and is presenting it as comparative table information - held before January 12 by the PHSO, which was what was requested.

The FoiAct is quite plain:

Recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

Note :
That doesn't mean information specially researched and written, so placed on file, after the request is made.

So where is Dame Julie Mellor's briefing for PACAC on this comparative table?

And why would this be a matter of secrecy - and not in the public interest?

Surely PHSO should be open and transparent about the evidence already placed in the public domain, via the PACAC hearing?

::
And it is for this reason that I now always include the paragraph to the PHSO:

'Please note : This request does not require a letter, drafted by the External Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees, and purporting to be the response to a FOIA response'.

Because reputational defence letters of response seem to have replaced the criteria set out in the FoiAct...the information held in file.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

JT Oakley,

The highly unusual intervention by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to correct evidence Mick Martin presented before an important parliamentary committee was a very interesting read.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

It's the crib note given to Dame Julie Mellor to enable her to give evidence to PACAC.

What's so difficult about that?

Just amazed at the length the PHSO will go to hide it,

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

1 Attachment

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-248100)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 15 February 2016 in which you
wrote:

     I would therefore like to read the information which enabled Dame
     Julie Mellor to use such a ' crude efficiency measure ' as
     comparison to show that the PHSO is now ' in the middle' ..of
     (presumably) a table - or list.
    
     And the background figures and information used to construct this
     'middle' comparison offered as evidence to PACAC.
    
     This would include internal emails, or specific reference links to
     Annual reports, from or to other Ombudsmen to check the comparative
     statistic presented.

I wrote to you on 14 March and 13 April 2016 to explain that we needed
some additional time to consider where the balance of public interest lies
in relation to your request, as allowed by section 10(3) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA).  With my email of 13 April 2016, I included
the publically available information on which Dame Julie Mellor’s
statement at the PACAC inquiry of 12 January 2016 was based.

 

I am sorry for the delay in providing you with a comprehensive response to
your request.  However, I am happy to be able to advise that we have
concluded that the public interest weighs in favour of disclosing the
information falling within the scope of your request.  I can confirm that
the attached information comprises everything relevant to your request and
I hope it is helpful.

 

Please note that the contact details of some staff members have been
redacted in line with section 40(2) FOIA, which allows for the protection
of third party personal data.

 

In your further email of 13 April 2016, you asked us to ‘confirm or deny
that the 6,800 case comparison list was, or was not – on PHSO file at the
time that Dame Julie Mellor gave her evidence to PACAC’.  I hope the
attached information answers your further question.

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][email address]

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316692 email]]
Sent: 15 February 2016 22:00
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Dame Julie Mellor's evidence to
PACAC that the PHSO is now 'in the middle' of investigation costs

 

     Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
    
     I am writing to make an open government request for all the
     information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
     Act 2000.
    
     Please send me recorded information, which includes information
     held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
     documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.
    
     If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
     clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
     understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
     assist requesters.(Section 16 Regulation 9).
    
     If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
     all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
     will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
     the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
     charge excessive fees.
    
     If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
     can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
     necessary.
    
     If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
     grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
     copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
     information should not be treated as confidential if such an
     agreement has not been signed.
    
     I would like the above information to be provided to me as
     electronic copies, via WDTK
    
     I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
     the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
     grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
     this request.
    
     ::::
    
     The information required:
    
     Request Title within scope.
    
     ::
    
     In her January evidence to PACAC , Dame Julie Mellor seems to be
     roughly referring to the comparative table of ombudsmen in other
     countries, ( World Table) which I worked out last time PASC asked
     for evidence - when she states '88k a case', as the amount she
     gives is in line with mine.
    
     My figure was slightly less than hers : 83,333
     (Unit resolved case cost - which is the total cost of organisation
     divided by resolved cases)
    
    
[3]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     Which made the PHSO bottom of the World Table.
    
     ::::
    
     This year she says...
    
     'If you take cost per investigation as a crude measure of value for
     money in terms of the efficiency of an organisation, we went from
     costing 88,000 per case to now costing 6,800 per case. Where we
     were a significant outlier in terms of cost per case among public
     ombudsman services, we are now in the middle. Yes, we do think we
     can bring that down further and the 24% reductions will mean that
     will come down to about 5,000 a case' .
    
    
[4]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     ::::.
    
     This time, I worked on a new comparative table( via Annual Reports
     and emails) replacing World ombudsmen with UK ombudsmen...being
     more relevant to costs to the UK taxpayer.
    
     The PHSO's comparative figure this year was -stated by Dame Jukie
     Mellor- was 7515, so the PHSO was still at the bottom of the UK
     table being much more expensive than:
    
     The Welsh Ombudsman: 1829
     Scottish Ombudsman: 653
     and the Financial Ombudsman:534 - (which recoups its expenditure).
    
     My statistics were from the PHSO's own 2014/5 report and from other
     2014/5 annual reports and private emails.
    
    
[5]http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...
    
     Which, of course is a better indicator - but the figure doesn't
     match.
     So Dame Julie Mellor must be referring to a table of the PHSO's own
     devising.
    
     :::
    
     I would therefore like to read the information which enabled Dame
     Julie Mellor to use such a ' crude efficiency measure ' as
     comparison to show that the PHSO is now ' in the middle' ..of
     (presumably) a table - or list.
    
     And the background figures and information used to construct this
     'middle' comparison offered as evidence to PACAC.
    
     This would include internal emails, or specific reference links to
     Annual reports, from or to other Ombudsmen to check the comparative
     statistic presented.
    
     Yours faithfully,
    
     Jt Oakley
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
     [6][FOI #316692 email]
    
     Is [7][email address] the wrong address for Freedom of
     Information requests to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman?
     If so, please contact us using this form:
    
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     web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
    
    
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J Roberts left an annotation ()

Given that the number of individuals with multiple cases almost doubled in 2014/15 from what it was the previous year, I suspect the effect would have been to lower the cost per case:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you.

But the statistics presented as a 'comparative table' ' appear to be taken from three different financial years.

And therefore Dame Julie Mellor has inadvertently misled PACAC, as presenting it as an accurate comparative improvement to the members of the PACAC committee.

:::::

This is what is stated in the table - provided in the FOIA request response.

'PHSO: Budget £33.2
Cost/ investigations 4159
Investigations/resolutions 5058
Cost/inv/ resolution £6563'.

The figure quoted in this table response is £33.2m,......which are the PHSO's net operating costs in 2011/12.
(Actual :£33,192)

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

:::

The £33.2 figure wasn't taken from 2013/4 either...

'It is noted that operating costs have not risen much £33.4 m in 2012/13 compared to £33.2m in 2011/2012' .

The PHSO' s Net operating cost in 2013/14 - actual £34,793... so this figure it is not even a near miss yearwise.

Data assets
http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

::::

This is from your 2014/5 annual financial report.

The Annual report and Accounts on which Dame Julie Mellor was being questioned by PACAC when she made the comparative table statement.....

'In 2014-15 our net operating costs were just under £37m and we delivered 5,058 investigations and resolutions'.

So the number of investigations(5058) stated in the response table relates to 2014/5.

.....But the net operating cost doesn't - as it relates to 2011/2.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/pdfs/publica...

In addition:

The 2014/5 net operating costs:

Cost to taxpayer( funded by the taxpayer)
PHSO: £37m (stated in the response table to be £33.2m)
WO: £4.2m (stated in this response table..£4m)
SO: £3.2m ( stead in this response table £3.5m)

The net operating cost for the Welsh Ombudsman in 2013/4 was £4,029m , so it looks like these comparative figure was for this previous year....2013/4

https://www.ombudsman-wales.org.uk/~/med...

The Scottish Ombudsman's likewise, as the operating costs were £3.49m in 2013/4 - which also the previous accounting year ( and £3.43 in 2012/3) .

http://www.spso.org.uk/sites/spso/files/...

So the Scottish and Welsh ombudsman budgets are also wrong as comparators

As they come from a different financial accounting year.

::

I can see why the PHSO might have not considered this information not to be in the 'public interest' .

And clearly has spent a long time time before divulging it in response to this FOIA request..

However, in the light of this misinformation, are their any plans for Dame Julie Mellor be apologise to PACAC for misleading the committee?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

foiofficer@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your correspondence.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thanks J Roberts.

It appears that Dame Julie Mellor's stats were from three different years

What a mess.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

At the end of the day PHSO Dame Julie Mellor MUST take responsibility for the mess!!

Diana Smith left an annotation ()

I put in a FOIA reques for Dame Julie Mellor to answer on 26 th June 2014 , handed personally to Nick Martin and other PHSO staff, and have even chased it up several times.... Still no answer

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

You could put it on WDTK ..files can't get 'lost' then.

Diana Smith left an annotation ()

Just what l was thinking.
Perhaps l could also include what l could not previously?
After all l hoped there would be investigation into the death of my fiancé , that was something else the PHSO never came back to me on. Devastating in May 2013 after my visiting him and giving hospital staff my contact details for me to be contacted, to not hear from them or him , and on ringing being passed through several wards to eventually the records office and someone just blurting out " he' s dead" , before slamming the phone down.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Sounds like the NHS.

But think you might be timed out on a complaint by now .

And any complaint still has to go through your MP.

The PHSO will have probably binned your original complaint, as it destroys some files after three months.
So it will probably state that you have never made a complaint.

But don't let me stop you.

Just be very careful not to put any names in your request.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The 'improved ' stats using the wrong budgetary years are a moot point anyway.

Even if Dame Julie Mellor has forced the cost per case down from £83k investigated case :

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

..by investigating more cases and rushing them through to hit arbitrary targets using £700-a-head closed case, caseworkers, the quality has to have dropped. NHS cases, in particular, are hugely complex and very many would take much longer than £700's worth.

To prevent more embarrassment after being the most expensive( £83k ) of all the ombudsman surveyed, and to prove management 'capability' and her own 'leadership' , It's been a policy of 'never mind the quality feel the width'.

Meanwhile, the 20 percent exit of staff continues, employee survey rating remains poor and the deputy ombudsman has had to resign over the sex-text case.

:::

As for the complete shambles of the research shown by this request .... this is what the PHSO nowlooks like close up.

The PHSO strategy is - if you point out a complaint case mistake like this - it closes a complainant down by and refusing to reply at all, so 'ghosting' its now angry complainants.

Presumably that's to maintain the PHSO's place in its own imaginary ' inter -ombudsman table' and so to provide the parliamentary committee with this sort of bent evidence.

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

4 Attachments

 

 

Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

.....How hard it is get a FOIA response on ANYTHING involving Dame Julie Mellor.

This request should of been a straightforward - with the provision of factual stats used to support Dame Julie Mellor' s evidence to PACAC.

The request was asking the PHSO to provide the research for the statement that the Dame gave to Parliament on how well the PHSO was now doing....compared to other ombudsmen.

.... By notching up to the middle of a mystery comparative table, rather than lingering extensively at the bottom, as it had done before in a comparative ombudsman table.

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidenc...

The Scottish Ombudsman had already weighed in and told Parliament that deputy Ombudsman Mick Martin's evidence was based on a misconception.

An unusual move - between Ombudsmen - for one to criticise another publically, so he must of regarded it as serious breach of evidential standards.

:::

15 February : Request date.

14 March : Ms Gasston will not respond to the request and argues that she is contemplating a Section that will prevent the disclosure.

::

NB This is because the stats Dame Julie Mellor had presented to PACAC were incorrect. They were based on three different financial years...instead of the one on which she was being questioned.

The PHSO is very reluctant to provide any FOIA information which could damage its 'reputation'.

So all FOIA responses have to be run past External Affairs, which is where the 'discussions if whether or not the PHSO could avoid disclosure might of taken place.

:::

March 18 : I ask Mr Brown for a review...twice.

March 23: Request logged as a review

March 23: it appears that Ms Gasston still trying to find a Section to apply to the request, so as not to disclose the embarrassing information.

April 13:Ms Gasston still struggling with the Sections.
She replies.. but the information she gives me doesn't respond to the request or dovetail with the evidence Dame Julie Mellor gave to PACAC.

April 13 : I object to being given the wrong information,which simply doesn't add up. Wrong stats.

April 26: Ms Gasston finally responds to the request - presumably having thoroughly investigated all the FOIA Sections which could be used to prevent disclosure.

:::::

From this response it transpires that Dame Julie Mellor's PACAC evidence on the new 'comparative table' was based on badly researched information.

The Ombudsman has been placed in a position where she has misinformed Parliament. Which, whatever anyone thinks of politicians, is a serious business.

:::

May 16: Mr Brown mysteriously responds to the request for a Review.

:::

So either Mr Brown was already reviewing when Ms Gasston finally ran out of FOIA Sections to prevent disclosure for reputational defence and he told her she must disclose the withheld information....

.......Or he wasn't reviewing the request ...and he has only decided to review the PHSO's response - after she has disclosed the information.

.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-256327)

 

Thank you for your email of 27 April 2016. 

 

Dame Julie did not mislead the committee.  As she stated in her evidence,
these figures were used in order to establish a rough estimate of
efficiency.

 

We therefore hold no recorded information relating to your request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #316692 email]]
Sent: 27 April 2016 16:55
To: InformationRights
Subject: Re: Your information request (FDN-248100)

 

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you.

But the statistics presented as a 'comparative table' '  appear to be
taken from three different financial  years.

And therefore Dame Julie Mellor has inadvertently misled PACAC, as
presenting it as an accurate comparative improvement to the members of the
PACAC committee.

:::::

This is what is stated in the table  - provided in the FOIA request
response.

'PHSO: Budget 33.2
Cost/ investigations 4159
Investigations/resolutions 5058
Cost/inv/ resolution 6563'.

The figure quoted in this table response is 33.2m,......which are  the
PHSO's net operating costs in 2011/12.
(Actual :33,192)

[3]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

:::

The 33.2 figure wasn't taken from 2013/4 either...

'It is noted that operating costs have not risen much 33.4 m in 2012/13
compared to 33.2m in 2011/2012' .

The PHSO' s Net operating cost in 2013/14 - actual  34,793...  so this
figure it is not even a near miss yearwise.

Data assets
[4]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

::::

This is from your 2014/5 annual financial report. 

The Annual report and Accounts on  which Dame Julie Mellor was being
questioned by PACAC when she made the comparative table statement.....

'In 2014-15 our net operating costs were just under 37m and we delivered
5,058 investigations and resolutions'.

So the number of investigations(5058) stated in the response table relates
to 2014/5. 

.....But the net operating cost  doesn't - as it relates  to 2011/2.

[5]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/pdfs/publica...

In addition:

The 2014/5 net operating costs:

Cost to taxpayer( funded by the taxpayer)
PHSO:  37m (stated in the response table to be  33.2m)
WO:      4.2m (stated in this response table..4m)
SO:       3.2m ( stead in this response table 3.5m)  

The net operating cost for the Welsh Ombudsman in 2013/4 was 4,029m , so
it looks like these comparative  figure was for this previous
year....2013/4

[6]https://www.ombudsman-wales.org.uk/~/med...

The Scottish Ombudsman's likewise, as the operating costs were 3.49m in
2013/4  - which also  the previous accounting year (  and 3.43 in 2012/3)
.

[7]http://www.spso.org.uk/sites/spso/files/...

So the Scottish and Welsh ombudsman budgets are also wrong  as
comparators  

As they come from a different  financial accounting year.

::

I can see why the PHSO might have not considered this information not to
be in the 'public interest' .

And clearly has spent a long time time before divulging it  in response to
this FOIA request..

However,   in the light of this misinformation,  are their any plans for 
Dame Julie Mellor be apologise  to PACAC for misleading the committee?

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Dear InformationRights,

Thank you.

But I rather think that the committee will be the judge of that.

And will able to decide the accuracy of Dame Julie Mellor's evidence themselves.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your correspondence.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

How interesting....

'Dame Julie did not mislead the committee'.

After answering a previous press enquiry, the FOIA department are now making external probity statements.

Presumably after consulting the external affairs department, which is noted in board documents as processing all FOIA enquiries.

Perhaps the 39-strong external relations department was busy.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

In 2015-16 the PHSO received almost 2,000 requests for review:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

This is a high proportion of complainants dissatisfied with the outcome of their cases. For the PHSO To properly deal with theses decision complaints about themselves would add a considerable amount to the overall cost per case.

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