Declarations of external interests register for board, committee and employees

The request was 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:

NB Request Title within scope.

1. As there does not appear to be a list of this information in the 2014/5 Annual report, I would like to view the PHSO's current list of the external interests of the any of the PHSO board and committee members..

2. And previous declarations of interests - from the financial year 2012/ 2013 onwards.

My reason for asking us that the last list under the PHSO's 'Openess and Transparency' policy, on its Internet site appears to be :

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/annual-repor...

Where I have found it impossible to view any interests, only the board members.

In addition, some of the the board members stated are no longer in the employ of the PHSO.
And there are new members.

Therefore it is the updated lists that I require - published or otherwise.

3. I would also like to view the signed file declarations by any of the PHSO's directors and audit committee members.

4. And the list on file of declared external interests by PHSO employees in the same period - as public availability is stated on the PHSO s Internet site.

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.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Interesting FOI....will await the outcome with interest!

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

Your information request (FDN-250078)

 

I am writing further to your email of 28 February 2016 in which you asked
for copies of declarations of interest provide by Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Board Members and employees.

 

First of all, you state that Directors’ interests are not available at the
following link:

[1]www.ombudsman.org.uk/annual-report-2012-13/about-us/our-board-and-leadership-team

 

However, this information is available at that link, above the photographs
of members of the then Unitary Board.  We are in the process of updating
the information available on our website and you will find current
information available in our Publication Scheme shortly.

 

In the meantime, we have uploaded all additional declarations of interest
obtained from Board members since 2012/13 to our Publication Scheme
[2]here.  I hope that this information is helpful.

 

You have also asked for declarations of interests made by other members of
PHSO staff.  These are maintained on individual HR records and it would be
too costly to search through all these records even for one year (far
above the appropriate limit of 18 hours).  Therefore the exemption at
section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) applies to this
part of your request.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your information request,
it is open to you to request an Internal Review.  Beyond that, it is open
to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office
([3]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [4]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [5][email address]

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #318968 email]]
Sent: 28 February 2016 12:31
To: foiofficer
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Declarations of external
interests register for board, committee and employees

 

     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:
    
     NB Request Title within scope.
    
     1. As there does not appear to be a list of this information in the
     2014/5 Annual report, I would like to view the PHSO's current list
     of the external interests of the any of the PHSO board and
     committee members..
    
     2. And previous declarations of interests - from the financial year
     2012/ 2013 onwards.
    
     My reason for asking us that the last list under the PHSO's
     'Openess and Transparency' policy, on its Internet site appears to
     be :
    
    
[6]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/annual-repor...
    
     Where I have found it impossible to view any interests, only the
     board members.
    
     In addition, some of the the board members stated are no longer in
     the employ of the PHSO.
     And there are new members.
    
     Therefore it is the updated lists that I require - published or
     otherwise.
    
     3. I would also like to view the signed file declarations by any of
     the PHSO's directors and audit committee members.
    
     4. And the list on file of declared external interests by PHSO
     employees in the same period - as public availability is stated on
     the PHSO s Internet site.
    
     Yours faithfully,
    
     Jt Oakley
    
     -------------------------------------------------------------------
    
     Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
     [7][FOI #318968 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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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:

'Declarations of external interests register for board, committee and employees'.

:::

Thank you for your response to the 2012/13 link - it is now working and I can read the information.

However, please accept my word that if I state I can't read the link - or its not working for me, even temporarily - that it isn't.

And I would see absolutely no point in 'gaming' a request in this manner.

::::

However, this request asks for the updated information on the external interests REGISTER.

As you will be aware, directors and senior officers are required to list interests to their employees - as part of an organisation's governance.

For instance, entirely hypothetically, an employee may favour an an ex-colleague to undertake an investigation into allegations against a senior member of staff. There may be, or may not be, a pecuniary interest involved.

Which is why a register of interests is supplied by public authorities. To make sure that no bias is involved.

:::

It is stated in the PHSO's own Conflict of Interest Policy that category business interests and personal conflicts must be disclosed for the PHSO's Resource Accounts.

You will have noted the criteria of 'senior managers and other decision makers' as the criteria of employees about which I have asked in this request. Because that is the category of employees who must be on any updated Declarations of external Interests register.

Certainly to go forwards to the disclosure on the Resource Account register, as employees, with financial decision-making powers, join an organisation.

Yet you state :

You have also asked for declarations of interests made by other members of PHSO staff. These are maintained on individual HR records and it would be too costly to search through all these records even for one year (far above the appropriate limit of 18 hours). Therefore the exemption at section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) applies to this part of your request.

However, if you refer to the title of the request, it specifies the 'REGISTER ' ......and NOT 'all individual employees and their personnel records information '.

A basic inflationary mistake, which has been made before...on increasing a specifically entitled( 'Executive Office ' ) FOIA request to 'all PHSO staff' .

With the following court verdict, the FOIA handling of the request, criticised by the Tribunal and unnecessarily expensive to the public purse.

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB... name redacted]%20EA.2014.0093%20(19.01.2015)%20.pdf

I would be obliged if the PHSO would, this time, direct its response to the scope of the request.

Therefore Section 12 is inapplicable, as the requested Register must already exist and it will not certainly not be necessary to scan each employees' personnel file for the requested register information.

:::

Here is the PHSO's own guidance on the matter:
A conflict of interest may arise from an employee’s own interests or activities or from that of a member of their family or an individual with whom they have a close personal relationship.

Governance and accounting requirements mean that certain types of interests that need to be declared under this policy must also be disclosed in PHSO’s Resource Accounts. This is normally restricted to the financial and commercial interests of senior managers and other key decision makers.

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

(NB Clearly as I have specified the Declaration of interests register, as the summary/title within scope in that the register only pertains to those making financial decisions which affect the PHSO's expenditure.

I would also draw your attention to the National Auditors report on the PHSO, prepared under Section 7 of the National Audit Act 1983.

Part One: Managing Interests

A conflict of interest can be defined as a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest. A primary interest is typically a decision taken for the benefit of the organisation. A secondary interest is one that may result in other benefit, such as personal financial gain or gains for friends, family or associates. Interests therefore need to be identified and managed so that any perceived conflicts can be dealt with in an appropriate manner, for example by removing oneself from a decision. Conflict of interests, whether actual or perceived, if not properly managed leave an organisation open to accusations of a lack of transparency or, at worst, of wrongdoing or potential fraud.

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

I am clearly therefore not interested in ( as an example) an employee's declaration, whose partner has a small business, and who would not be on the required register anyway.

:::

You have stated ( from the information provided) that the Resource account declarations register has not been updated since Helen Hughes worked for the PHSO. (2012/3)

Surely the PHSO has new directors - such as Mick Martin - who must have declared their interests in the interim?

This is the only link I can find to the current board members but there seems to be no register of interests, or any linked to this information.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/who...

I have also searched the Resource Accounts of the last 2015/6 Annual report.

Yet I cannot find a Declaration /or Register of Interests list in it.

Please therefore direct me to the correct page.

:::
You will also be aware of The First Tier Tribunal’s decision in John Greenwood and Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council v Information Commissioner (EA/2011/0131 and EA/2011/0137)(17-2-2012)........on Directors and others financial interests.

'It comes without surprise that those in more senior positions tasked with strategic decisions about the expenditure of public funds should be subject to a greater level of scrutiny about their pay, job title and job role. As a matter of law it is also required by regulation 7 of the Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011 for “senior employees”.

The commissioner therefore allowed the following to be released:
Names;
Department;
Section;
Name and address and nature of additional business, or other employment;
Name and address of Company, firm or other body or individual of whom consultancy is undertaken and nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or volume of such work;
Name and address and nature of business of each company or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity;
Name and address and nature of business of each firm with which you are a partner;
Name and address and nature of business of each company in which you hold shares;
Name and address of the organisation to whom you are engaged on a retainer basis and nature of the retainer.

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

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.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

PHSO Conflicts of Interest Policy states information should be 'openly available' and 'updated every year'.

10. Advisory Board, Audit Committee and Senior Staff

10.1 For governance reasons Advisory Board and Audit Committee members are asked once a year to confirm that their potential conflicts of interests have not changed.

10.2 The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available.

The section for all other employees is not published.

However, PHSO reserves the right to disclose interests on request or as necessary, subject to the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.

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

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

Dear JT Oakley

 

We are writing in response to your email of 30 March 2016.

 

We are sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your
information request regarding 'Declarations of external interests register
for board, committee and employees'.

 

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

 

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

Dear JT

Is it a conflict of interest when my long standing complaint of collision by PHSO is sent to customer care who have now sent it to Ms Fox to 'comment' on.
I think she has an interest in seeing this does not go to external review as I have asked.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The PHSO is still allowing employees to investigate complaints about their own work?

Extraordinary.

It seems to be the only organisation that does..barring the ICO - which allows the bloke in the next desk to do so - so I would complain.

Dear ++[email address],

I would draw your attention to the PHSO's own Conflicts of Interest Policy in which it states that the information should be openly available and updated every year.

Ms Gasston's response on WDTK shows that the requested register has not been updated for three years. There are also no internal files supplied.

She adds:

'In the meantime, we have uploaded all additional declarations of interest obtained from Board members since 2012/13 to our Publication Scheme[2]here. I hope that this information is helpful'.

There are also no files of declarations of interest in response to this request at (2).

And I would, once again, remind the PHSO that an FOIA request is for DATA held. I do not require a letter - or to be provide with a bracketed figure as a response.

Yet the confirmations (files) must be supplied to the Audit Board and Committee.

So either the files exist, or the PHSO 's governance is at fault in not complying with the policy or, as Ms Gasston states, the confirmation and statement files have not been supplied as they do not exist at (2).

Therefore, since Ms Gaston has not produced the register in response.

And Steve Brown is responsible for governance, and is stated to be reviewing the request, I formally request that the review of this request be undertaken by:

1. An employee NOT involved in the PHSO's governance, involving this Policy.

2. Conducted by an entirely independent employee who is NOT employed within the FOIA department, or unduly influenced to comply with the Head of Foi's opinion.

3. A reviewer who does not accept the draft reply in total , - written by the Head of FOI - hours before the reply is sent out (the next morning) and without taking the time to make a proper independent assessment of all relative PHSO files him/ or herself.,as required by the FOIAct.

:::::

PHSO Conflicts of Interest Policy states information should be 'openly available' and 'updated every year'.

10. Advisory Board, Audit Committee and Senior Staff

10.1 For governance reasons Advisory Board and Audit Committee members are asked once a year to confirm that their potential conflicts of interests have not changed.

10.2 The Register of Interests for Senior Staff is included in the PHSO publication scheme and is, therefore, openly available.

The section for all other employees is not published.

However, PHSO reserves the right to disclose interests on request or as necessary, subject to the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.

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

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

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


Thank you for contacting the Customer Care team at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
I can confirm we have received your e-mail and a member of our Customer Care Team will be in touch with you shortly.

Kind regards

Customer Care Team

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

An article in an ICO judgement
Definition of 'senior officers' and what should be disclosed:

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Why on earth is the PHSO being so coy about its senior officials conflicts of interest?

Brenda Prentice left an annotation ()

I have complained about my complaint being sent to Ms Fox, no comment as yet.

I've also asked for a SAR and not even an acknowledgement, so just asked again....Is there no end to this absurdity?

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

' This page sets out the Terms of Reference for The Board with links to membership information, declarations and minutes. You can also find links to the Committees and their members'.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/who...

Errrr ......No it doesn't

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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D. Speers left an annotation ()

Let the 'Gaming' begin! YOU are a STAR Jt....Thank you!

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

1. As there does not appear to be a list of this information in the 2014/5 Annual report, I would like to view the PHSO's current list of the external interests of the any of the PHSO board and committee members..

2. And previous declarations of interests - from the financial year 2012/ 2013 onwards.

My reason for asking us that the last list under the PHSO's 'Openess and Transparency' policy, on its Internet site appears to be :

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/annual-repor...

Where I have found it impossible to view any interests, only the board members.

In addition, some of the the board members stated are no longer in the employ of the PHSO.
And there are new members.

Therefore it is the updated lists that I require - published or otherwise.

3. I would also like to view the signed file declarations by any of the PHSO's directors and audit committee members.

4. And the list on file of declared external interests by PHSO employees in the same period - as public availability is stated on the PHSO s Internet site.

Its very odd that the PHSO will not display its board members declarations of interests.

One can only assume that they have something to hide.

Here's the open and transparent Scottish Ombudsman, showing the PHSO how it's done ....

http://www.spso.org.uk/search/gss

Dear Brown Steve,

I would like to point out that the link given was from 2012/3 ..and it was stated that it would be updated.

Organisations usually update declarations every year - for the government directive of transparency.

For instance,

Here's how the excellent Scottish Ombudsnan follows the Declarations of Interest determination for openess and Transparency.

http://www.spso.org.uk/search/gss

Could you olease therefore direct me to this year's updated link ( as stated).

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Shocking to read.

WHEN will these people realise that they are supposed to be "public servants"?

A shocking waste of time, resources and money has been spent by this lot in being EVASIVE, UNHELPFUL & OBSTRUCTIVE. We, the public, have a RIGHT TO KNOW.

Shame on the whole team.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Inga Beale, Lloyds of London CEO and top of the 2015 power list said on Desert Island discs that boards need diversity to be vibrant and forward looking. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07bb1vl...

Where is the diversity at PHSO. It would seem that the primary criteria for a place on the board is to be a member of another board. These non-execs are largely people already in the pay of government in one way or another. This creates an inherent bias. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

The most obvious thing is that - with all this board experience - the PHSO still overspent and is running a system which scoffs at Tribunal criticisms.

Where is the 'governance'?

Overspending:

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

Tribunal criticisms :

http://www.cloisters.com/images/Marks_-_...

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Oh dear.. I checked back to see the PHSO policy on Openness and transparency ..and the page seems to have vanished - again.

::::

Sorry, we can't find that page.
We are sorry but the page you are looking for cannot be found. It may have been removed, had its name changed or be temporarily unavailable.

You may also wish to check you entered the address correctly.

If you can't find what you need on the site, please use the search facility or contact us.....

:::

And the search on the PHSO site for :

Openess and Transparency

Search
No results found. Try searching again:

I tried.

:::::

However, we must be grateful that he PHSO still has time to lecture Morecambe NHS Trust on openess and transparency - but only after it turned down the Joshua Titcombe case....

Lack of openness and honesty found at Morecambe NHS Trust
27 February 2014
Lack of openness and honesty at a hospital trust caused unnecessary distress and further pain to a family who had already suffered from the tragic and avoidable death of their baby, said the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman today.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/new...

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