Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)

The request was partially successful.

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Ministry of Justice,

The following is contained in paragraph 43 of the judgment in Nicolson v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin) (25 February 2016), see link to full judgment:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

" 6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers.

Recommendation B2: court costs.

That the benefits and taxation service ensure the maximum possible is charged for court costs and to review the charge at regular intervals subject to any guidance/legislation governing court costs. "

In subsequent paragraphs the judge (Lord Justice Hamblen) endorses the Council's decision that costs should be sought at a maximum level, by focussing only on elements which he is able to argue in the Council's favour. Yet there's a complete oversight of that which in the extract advantages the appellant, i.e. the confession to setting the level at a maximum with the intention of funding improved recovery measures.

The whole argument on which the judge/council seeks to rely hinges on the expenditure (maximum possible) being 'permitted by law', yet the council admits to being ignorant of what the legislation permits, by its intention to fund improved recovery measures.

The application, for which the Council may claim costs, simply involves a process to obtain the court’s permission to enforce payment and nothing more.

Q1. I would like disclosing whatever information the MoJ holds regarding instructions/guidance etc., that judges must work to in order not to give an impression of favouring one party over another like for instances, what evidence to take into consideration and what not to consider and the weight to be placed upon each party's representations.

Q2. What are the consequences for a judge who obviously shows bias to one particular party

Q3. Is there a body from which a victim may claim compensation who has incurred substantial costs as a consequence of an unfair hearing

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

Data Access & Compliance Unit, Ministry of Justice

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please note, under section 8(1) of FOIA, a request for
information must comply with three requirements. It must:

(a) be in writing,
(b) state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and
(c) describes the information requested.

After initial consideration, this request appears to comply with requirements (a) and (c) but it does not comply with requirement (b) because you have not provided your full name.
I am therefore not required to process your request without information that can later be referred to, as per Section 8(1)(b) FOIA. The information we require is your name.
As your request has been deemed invalid, I am not obliged to disclose the requested information at this point and I would like to take this opportunity to recommend that any future FOI submissions adhere to Section 8 of the FOIA.
To enable us to meet your request, please resubmit your application in accordance with the above requirements. We will consider your resubmitted request upon receipt as long as it meets the requirements stated above.
You will then receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the information not being exempt.
You can find out more about Section 8 by reading the extract from the Act available at the attached link:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000...

Kind regards

Data Access and Compliance Unit

show quoted sections

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit, N Gilliatt AKA fFaudwAtch UK Yours sincerely, fFaudwAtch UK

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Haringey's Audit and Finance Scrutiny Panel - Review of Income Collection (Page 16)

http://www.haringey.gov.uk/sites/haringe...

RECOMENDATION
B2 That the Benefits and Local Taxation Service ensure the maximum possible is charged for Court Costs and that the charge is reviewed at regular intervals, subject to any guidance/legislation governing Court Costs.

PROGRESS / COMMENTS
This is undertaken using London-wide agreed parameters and the local decision making process will be undertaken in March of each fiscal year.

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit,

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Ministry of Justice should have responded by 27 July 2016.

Yours sincerely,

fFaudwAtch UK

Data Access & Compliance Unit, Ministry of Justice

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Gilliat,

Please see the response to your aggregated FOI responses.

 

Kind Regards,

DACU

This e-mail (and any attachment) is intended only for the attention of
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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Ministry of Justice's 20 july 2016 response:

"The MoJ considers your request to be vexatious and in accordance with section 14(1) of the FOIA, we will not be taking it any further
........
The MoJ considers your request to be vexatious for the following reasons:

BURDEN ON THE AUTHORITY AND FREQUENT/OVERLAPPING REQUESTS:
You have continued to submit a large volume of requests and general correspondence in respect of the issues relating to the complaints you have raised against Judge Curtis, the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office’s (JCIO) procedures and the functions of the Judiciary. These requests overlap considerably in content and accusation, some are submitted within hours of each other or on consecutive days. I consider that to continue to respond to your requests on these topics continues to place an unreasonable burden on the Department and causes a disproportionate amount of time to be spent on your correspondence. The Department is publicly funded and has a responsibility to protect those resources from abuse. It will use the available legislation under the FOIA to do so. Furthermore, I understand that the JCIO is not the only business area in the Department who are responding to your requests on these and related matters. This places an additional burden on finite Departmental time and resource.

UNREASONABLE PERSISTENCE, FUTILE REQUESTS, AND UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS:
Section 14 of the FOIA allows the Department to consider the wider interactions with a requester beyond the parameters of the request itself when determining if a request is vexatious. I have considered the multiple requests, both FOIA and normal business correspondence, made in respect of this issue to the JCIO, as well as related correspondence in respect of your matters with Grimsby Magistrates’ Court, the Justices Clerk, Judges and Magistrates. You have been informed of the outcome of your complaint in respect of the Grimsby matters from the Advisory Committee and the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman, who informed you that your complaint was not upheld. Your most recent correspondence suggests you are trying to escalate matters to the JCIO which have been resolved elsewhere. The entrenched position which you have taken in respect of unsubstantiated accusations of corruption and wrongdoing amongst staff and the Judiciary is unacceptable and the Department has a responsibility to prevent individuals from harassing and insulting its staff and the Judiciary. It is our assessment that you are using the FOIA as a vehicle to reopen matters which have been conclusively addressed elsewhere.

Please note if you continue to submit requests that we determine are related to these matters we will take steps under the legislation to protect departmental resources from further abuse under section 17 of the FOIA. "

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Ministry of Justice,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Ministry of Justice's handling of my FOI request 'Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)'.

This generic response has been made use of by the MoJ in a number of recent requests to get out of providing information it presumably considers would incriminate the department if it were disclosed. I guess the MoJ seeks reliance on highlighting the volume of requests as a diversionary measure to detract attention from the serious purpose for obtaining the information, ultimately to persuade the Information Commissioner, who is likely to be referred these cases, that the vexatious label is appropriate.

It is difficult therefore to find in the response anything directly relating to this request and has in my opinion been provided with no real thought to what has actually been asked for.

Turning to your spurious statement concerning the 16 September 2014 response to my complaint to the Advisory Committee and its escalation to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO) who concluded that the complaint was not upheld. I don't believe you really expect people to be taken in by such claims, as most will know that organisations like JACO are positioned at the taxpayer's expense to merely give the impression that holders of public and/or judicial office are accountable.

The evidence ( http://tinyurl.com/znkzkrl ) pointed obviously to the complaint response being produced purposely for the investigation. The Ombudsman had demonstrably turned a blind eye in order to bury misconduct and protect the judicial holder from the consequences. Your concerns therefore about Freedom of Information associated with the department's responsibility to protect resources from abuse would better be directed toward public money misspent on funding those bogus organisations as a means of faking accountability.

In any event you seem unable to distinguish that the Freedom of Information Act exists separately from organisations such as the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office (JCIO) that function to fake accountability whilst causing members of the public gross injustice for the protection it provides judicial office holders. Whatever assessment you make regarding alleged attempts 'to escalate matters to the JCIO which have been resolved elsewhere' is wholly irrelevant and I will – no matter how accepting of the complaint outcome you consider I should be – use whatever means are available to prove that there were very serious concerns raised in my complaint which were improperly investigated. The Freedom of Information Act is one avenue which entitles me lawful access to information that may assist my own investigation and will use every resource available to overcome the obstruction you are putting in the way of justice.

I will ask that the MoJ refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations. I have always made doubly sure that any statements I do make can be fully supported and suggest that the next time you think about making such assertions you bear this in mind. If by any chance you are referring to unfounded allegations in respect of this request, you may want to consider the injustice caused the appellant who I believe has had to bear a £50,000 costs order awarded against him in the case which Lord Justice Hamblen and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker were sitting as High Court Judges ( http://tinyurl.com/glt9aka ).

The consideration of the evidence was noticeably weighted in favour of Haringey Council and its contractor Auditor, Grant Thornton. An example of this is found in paragraph 43 of the judgment where the matter under consideration was whether it was a legitimate approach to seek the highest possible level of court costs in order to function as a deterrent and provide funding for improved recovery measures:

/////////////////////
43. In relation to "maximisation", the appellant relies in particular on a report produced in 2004 by the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel [ http://tinyurl.com/hj5864o
]. The conclusions of that report included the following

"6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers.

Recommendation B2: court costs.

That the benefits and taxation service ensure the maximum possible is charged for court costs and to review the charge at regular intervals subject to any guidance/legislation governing court costs."
/////////////////////

The judge then endorses the Council's decision that costs should be sought at a maximum level (or at least deems there nothing unlawful in doing so) based on rational that considers selective elements which make a case for the Council /Grant Thornton. Only that which is arguable in the Respondent's favour has been focussed on. However, the court application merely involves requesting the court’s permission to enforce payment for which the Council may claim no more than the costs incurred, yet the report of the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel admits to setting the level at a maximum with the intention of funding improved recovery measures. The failure to consider this has obviously disadvantaged the appellant because had it been taken into account there could have been no justification to find that the council's approach was lawful.

In any event, it is revealed in the 2004 report (Page 16) that the guidance/legislation governing Court Costs on which the council relied was simply an advisory committee of some sort which agreed a level for all London Boroughs.

Another example (para 11) concerns the breakdown which was generally accepted as representing permissible expenditure that made up the summons costs.

/////////////////////
11. As set out in the witness statement of Paul Dossett, a partner of the respondent, the Council provided a spreadsheet showing its calculation of cost per case of issuing a summons on 2 December 2014. This led to a cost per case of £130.77, slightly in excess of the £125 sought.
/////////////////////

Later (para 13) the judgment focuses on the calculation being reflective of the normal categories recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), ie staff costs, direct costs, indirect costs and overheads and set out that the Auditor had reviewed the calculation which resulted in a total cost of £130, which they had chosen to recharge £125.

The calculation has been obtained and reveals a figure representing the Cost of Council Tax collection of £4.16 million (Source: 2013-14 Revenue Outturn). This has not been questioned even though the figure stated ( http://tinyurl.com/h55slfo ) in the CIPFA Benchmarking Club Council Tax (Cost of Collection 2013/14 Actuals) is less than half that amount.

Also £0.774 million is attributable to Council Tax Reduction (CTR) which is wholly unsupported as are the percentages (60%, 80%, 80%, 60%) of Enforcement costs, direct costs, indirect costs and overheads respectively. These would clearly be unreasonable to any reasonable thinking person as proportions to be claimed simply for asking the Magistrates permission to use enforcement measures.

My requests do have serious purpose and in light of the Legal Team Manager at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court who has been unsuccessful in resolving issues surrounding the gross injustice caused by the court and who has now cut off communications, there is even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

To assume that my requests are unreasonable, persistent and futile is simply baseless. It is because of the intransigent way public bodies present themselves that I have been driven to using FOI as a means of attempting myself to identify causes of numerous injustices and stitch-ups I have been subjected to since being exposed to, and feeling under a public duty to highlight which is endemic in public bodies. One of those is summarised ( http://tinyurl.com/zcwoqmf ) in an "Action Fraud" report about Grimsby Magistrates' Court, Humberside police etc.

I therefore do not consider it unreasonable or futile for wanting to hold to account (by pursuing the truth) those whose negligence and dishonesty has led to a criminal record and £600+ fine for an offence I'm completely innocent of; and harassment for debt which is not owed because Council officers, unfit for public roles, are abusing their position to carry out a personal vendetta (http://tinyurl.com/p233lzt ).

The MoJ has been given appropriate reasons why section 14(1) of the FOIA has been applied wrongly, in light of which it may wish to change its decision in a review. In considering the above content it will be obvious that the reason for asking for the information is as far away from being vexatious as it could possibly be.

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

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit,

Has the review been overlooked?

Yours sincerely,

fFaudwAtch UK

Data Access & Compliance Unit, Ministry of Justice

Dear Sir,

In order for me to check our records, could you please supply me with a reference number of the request in which you wanted reviewed?

Thanks

Laura

Laura Watson| Business Manager | Communication and Information Directorate | Ministry of Justice 10.34, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ | www.justice.gov.uk  | @MoJGovUK | @MoJPress

show quoted sections

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear Data Access & Compliance Unit,

The relevant reference number is: 106289

Yours sincerely,

fFaudwAtch UK

Ufomadu Olisa, Ijeoma, Ministry of Justice

1 Attachment

Dear N Gilliat,

 

Further to your query dated 29^th June addressed to our Data Access and
Compliance Unit, please find the response to your query attached. Your
query was downgraded by DACU for the reasons they previously explained to
you. My sincere apologies for the delay in providing this response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Mrs I Olisa

Ministry of Justice

102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ

 

E:[1][email address]

 

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

RESPONSE:

"Thank you for your email dated 29the June 2016 addressed to our Data Access and Compliance Unit. I understand that you were informed by them that your request could not be dealt with as an FOI because you did not provide your full name. It is also noted that the questions you are asking cannot be handled under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as they do not refer to any official records held. Your request is therefore being handled as a general query.

By way of assistance, we are able to advise you on some of the points you raised as follows:

Q1. I would like disclosing whatever information the MoJ holds regarding instructions/guidance etc., that judges must work to in order not to give an impression of favouring one party over another like for instances, what evidence to take into consideration and what not to consider and the weight to be placed upon each party's representations.

ANSWER. Judges take a judicial oath to do right to all manner of people without fear or favour.

Judges receive training on case management, weighing up evidence and making judgments. Where judicial discretion can be exercised the College does not teach judges to arrive at certain conclusions as this would contravene judicial independence. Rather training will seek to produce consistent approaches to problems.    

Q2. What are the consequences for a judge who obviously shows bias to one particular party?

ANSWER. There are likely to be grounds for appeal if it can be demonstrated that relevant evidence has been overlooked. You would have to refer any such query to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

Q3. Is there a body from which a victim may claim compensation who has incurred substantial costs as a consequence of an unfair hearing?

ANSWER. No. The notion is entirely reliant on the premise that somebody outside of the judicial / court system could decide there has been an unfair hearing and such a body does not exist and would be completely contrary to our constitution. Refer to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which further strengthened the independence of the judiciary. It follows that only an Appeal Court can rule on whether the original hearing was fair.    

I hope these responses go in some way to answer your questions."

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Complaint to Information Commissioner's Office for the MoJ's mishandling of this freedom of information request.

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
SK9 5AF

11 October 2016

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF FOI REQUEST TO MOJ – REF: FOI / 106244

I made a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Justice (the ‘MoJ’), details can be found on the “what do they know” website at the following address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g...
“Grant Thornton and High Court case: [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin)”

BACKGROUND

This request was motivated upon observing blatant bias in favour of public bodies by judges in Civil proceedings to the detriment of individuals, in particular regarding huge financial losses incurred as a direct consequence of the lack of impartiality (unwarranted costs).

The judgment in respect of the case specifically referred to in this request highlights the injustice caused the appellant who it’s believed was hit with a £50,000 costs order awarded against him.
The proceedings were in the High Court where one would expect evidence to be scrutinised by the judge to a high standard. One element highlights perfectly how the court made judgment completely erroneously without even a hint of impartiality.

The Appellant questioned the legitimacy on a number of points surrounded the local authority’s application (costs) in the Magistrates’ court for obtaining Council Tax liability orders. One of the submissions (dismissed) was effectively that the summons costs should not be set at such a level (maximum possible) that it acted as a deterrent against non or late payment which was a decision recorded in a council report. The judge endorsed the decision by blatantly focussing on elements which he was able to argue in support of the council, yet completely overlooked what would support the appellant’s contention.

FOI REQUEST – 28 JUNE 2016

The MoJ was asked the following:

“Dear Ministry of Justice,

The following is contained in paragraph 43 of the judgment in Nicolson v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2016] EWHC 710 (Admin) (25 February 2016), see link to full judgment:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

" 6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers.

Recommendation B2: court costs

That the benefits and taxation service ensure the maximum possible is charged for court costs and to review the charge at regular intervals subject to any guidance/legislation governing court costs. "

In subsequent paragraphs the judge (Lord Justice Hamblen) endorses the Council's decision that costs should be sought at a maximum level, by focussing only on elements which he is able to argue in the Council's favour. Yet there's a complete oversight of that which in the extract advantages the appellant, i.e. the confession to setting the level at a maximum with the intention of funding improved recovery measures.

The whole argument on which the judge/council seeks to rely hinges on the expenditure (maximum possible) being 'permitted by law', yet the council admits to being ignorant of what the legislation permits, by its intention to fund improved recovery measures.

The application, for which the Council may claim costs, simply involves a process to obtain the court’s permission to enforce payment and nothing more.

Q1. I would like disclosing whatever information the MoJ holds regarding instructions/ guidance etc., that judges must work to in order not to give an impression of favouring one party over another like for instances, what evidence to take into consideration and what not to consider and the weight to be placed upon each party's representations.

Q2. What are the consequences for a judge who obviously shows bias to one particular party

Q3. Is there a body from which a victim may claim compensation who has incurred substantial costs as a consequence of an unfair hearing”

NO RESPONSE

The MoJ had not responded by the 27 July 2016 deadline and on 28 July I notified it about the delay which was responded to that day.

RESPONSE – 28 JULY 2016

A response to a previous request which was dated 20 July 2016, Reference: 106289 was attached ( http://tinyurl.com/zkxfpb2 ). It was assumed that the MoJ implied that it had determined the request vexatious and refused to provide the information under section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act citing the following reasons:

BURDEN ON THE AUTHORITY AND FREQUENT/OVERLAPPING REQUESTS:
You have continued to submit a large volume of requests and general correspondence in respect of the issues relating to the complaints you have raised against Judge Curtis, the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office’s (JCIO) procedures and the functions of the Judiciary. These requests overlap considerably in content and accusation, some are submitted within hours of each other or on consecutive days. I consider that to continue to respond to your requests on these topics continues to place an unreasonable burden on the Department and causes a disproportionate amount of time to be spent on your correspondence. The Department is publicly funded and has a responsibility to protect those resources from abuse. It will use the available legislation under the FOIA to do so. Furthermore, I understand that the JCIO is not the only business area in the Department who are responding to your requests on these and related matters. This places an additional burden on finite Departmental time and resource.

UNREASONABLE PERSISTENCE, FUTILE REQUESTS, AND UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS:
Section 14 of the FOIA allows the Department to consider the wider interactions with a requester beyond the parameters of the request itself when determining if a request is vexatious. I have considered the multiple requests, both FOIA and normal business correspondence, made in respect of this issue to the JCIO, as well as related correspondence in respect of your matters with Grimsby Magistrates’ Court, the Justices Clerk, Judges and Magistrates. You have been informed of the outcome of your complaint in respect of the Grimsby matters from the Advisory Committee and the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman, who informed you that your complaint was not upheld. Your most recent correspondence suggests you are trying to escalate matters to the JCIO which have been resolved elsewhere. The entrenched position which you have taken in respect of unsubstantiated accusations of corruption and wrongdoing amongst staff and the Judiciary is unacceptable and the Department has a responsibility to prevent individuals from harassing and insulting its staff and the Judiciary. It is our assessment that you are using the FOIA as a vehicle to reopen matters which have been conclusively addressed elsewhere.

Please note if you continue to submit requests that we determine are related to these matters we will take steps under the legislation to protect departmental resources from further abuse under section 17 of the FOIA.

REQUEST FOR INTERNAL REVIEW – 29 JULY 2016

The following representations were submitted in contesting the response which the MoJ had refused on the basis that the request was vexatious/futile:

This generic response has been made use of by the MoJ in a number of recent requests to get out of providing information it presumably considers would incriminate the department if it were disclosed. I guess the MoJ seeks reliance on highlighting the volume of requests as a diversionary measure to detract attention from the serious purpose for obtaining the information, ultimately to persuade the Information Commissioner, who is likely to be referred these cases, that the vexatious label is appropriate.
It is difficult therefore to find in the response anything directly relating to this request and has in my opinion been provided with no real thought to what has actually been asked for.

Turning to your spurious statement concerning the 16 September 2014 response to my complaint to the Advisory Committee and its escalation to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO) who concluded that the complaint was not upheld. I don't believe you really expect people to be taken in by such claims, as most will know that organisations like JACO are positioned at the taxpayer's expense to merely give the impression that holders of public and/or judicial office are accountable.

The evidence ( http://tinyurl.com/znkzkrl ) pointed obviously to the complaint response being produced purposely for the investigation. The Ombudsman had demonstrably turned a blind eye in order to bury misconduct and protect the judicial holder from the consequences. Your concerns therefore about Freedom of Information associated with the department's responsibility to protect resources from abuse would better be directed toward public money misspent on funding those bogus organisations as a means of faking accountability.

In any event you seem unable to distinguish that the Freedom of Information Act exists separately from organisations such as the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office (JCIO) that function to fake accountability whilst causing members of the public gross injustice for the protection it provides judicial office holders. Whatever assessment you make regarding alleged attempts 'to escalate matters to the JCIO which have been resolved elsewhere' is wholly irrelevant and I will – no matter how accepting of the complaint outcome you consider I should be – use whatever means are available to prove that there were very serious concerns raised in my complaint which were improperly investigated. The Freedom of Information Act is one avenue which entitles me lawful access to information that may assist my own investigation and will use every resource available to overcome the obstruction you are putting in the way of justice.

I will ask that the MoJ refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations. I have always made doubly sure that any statements I do make can be fully supported and suggest that the next time you think about making such assertions you bear this in mind. If by any chance you are referring to unfounded allegations in respect of this request, you may want to consider the injustice caused the appellant who I believe has had to bear a £50,000 costs order awarded against him in the case which Lord Justice Hamblen and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker were sitting as High Court Judges (http://tinyurl.com/glt9aka ).

The consideration of the evidence was noticeably weighted in favour of Haringey Council and its contractor Auditor, Grant Thornton. An example of this is found in paragraph 43 of the judgment where the matter under consideration was whether it was a legitimate approach to seek the highest possible level of court costs in order to function as a deterrent and provide funding for improved recovery measures:

‘43. In relation to "maximisation", the appellant relies in particular on a report produced in 2004 by the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel [ http://tinyurl.com/hj5864o ]. The conclusions of that report included the following

"6.11.1. The review panel found that other councils had obtained agreement to raise court costs recharged to non-payers by a significant level. This charge is intended to act as a deterrent to both late and non-payers and enables councils to fund improved recovery measures. The review panel concluded that the benefits and local taxation service could improve performance by ensuring that it agrees the highest possible level of court costs to be charged to non-payers.

Recommendation B2: court costs.

That the benefits and taxation service ensure the maximum possible is charged for court costs and to review the charge at regular intervals subject to any guidance/legislation governing court costs.’

The judge then endorses the Council's decision that costs should be sought at a maximum level (or at least deems there nothing unlawful in doing so) based on rational that considers selective elements which make a case for the Council /Grant Thornton. Only that which is arguable in the Respondent's favour has been focussed on. However, the court application merely involves requesting the court’s permission to enforce payment for which the Council may claim no more than the costs incurred, yet the report of the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Panel admits to setting the level at a maximum with the intention of funding improved recovery measures. The failure to consider this has obviously disadvantaged the appellant because had it been taken into account there could have been no justification to find that the council's approach was lawful.

In any event, it is revealed in the 2004 report (Page 16) that the guidance/legislation governing Court Costs on which the council relied was simply an advisory committee of some sort which agreed a level for all London Boroughs.

Another example (para 11) concerns the breakdown which was generally accepted as representing permissible expenditure that made up the summons costs.

‘11. As set out in the witness statement of Paul Dossett, a partner of the respondent, the Council provided a spreadsheet showing its calculation of cost per case of issuing a summons on 2 December 2014. This led to a cost per case of £130.77, slightly in excess of the £125 sought.’

Later (para 13) the judgment focuses on the calculation being reflective of the normal categories recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), ie staff costs, direct costs, indirect costs and overheads and set out that the Auditor had reviewed the calculation which resulted in a total cost of £130, which they had chosen to recharge £125.

The calculation has been obtained and reveals a figure representing the Cost of Council Tax collection of £4.16 million (Source: 2013-14 Revenue Outturn). This has not been questioned even though the figure stated ( http://tinyurl.com/h55slfo ) in the CIPFA Benchmarking Club Council Tax (Cost of Collection 2013/14 Actuals) is less than half that amount.

Also £0.774 million is attributable to Council Tax Reduction (CTR) which is wholly unsupported as are the percentages (60%, 80%, 80%, 60%) of Enforcement costs, direct costs, indirect costs and overheads respectively. These would clearly be unreasonable to any reasonable thinking person as proportions to be claimed simply for asking the Magistrates permission to use enforcement measures.

My requests do have serious purpose and in light of the Legal Team Manager at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court who has been unsuccessful in resolving issues surrounding the gross injustice caused by the court and who has now cut off communications, there is even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

To assume that my requests are unreasonable, persistent and futile is simply baseless. It is because of the intransigent way public bodies present themselves that I have been driven to using FOI as a means of attempting myself to identify causes of numerous injustices and stitch-ups I have been subjected to since being exposed to, and feeling under a public duty to highlight which is endemic in public bodies. One of those is summarised ( http://tinyurl.com/zcwoqmf ) in an "Action Fraud" report about Grimsby Magistrates' Court, Humberside police etc.

I therefore do not consider it unreasonable or futile for wanting to hold to account (by pursuing the truth) those whose negligence and dishonesty has led to a criminal record and £600+ fine for an offence I'm completely innocent of; and harassment for debt which is not owed because Council officers, unfit for public roles, are abusing their position to carry out a personal vendetta (http://tinyurl.com/p233lzt ).

The MoJ has been given appropriate reasons why section 14(1) of the FOIA has been applied wrongly, in light of which it may wish to change its decision in a review. In considering the above content it will be obvious that the reason for asking for the information is as far away from being vexatious as it could possibly be.

RESPONSE TO INTERNAL REVIEW – 7 OCTOBER 2016

The response contained the following which didn’t seem appropriate in that there had been no explanation regarding the downgrading it refers to:

The Further to your query dated 29th June addressed to our Data Access and Compliance Unit, please find the response to your query attached. Your query was downgraded by DACU for the reasons they previously explained to you. My sincere apologies for the delay in providing this response.

The attachment contained the following:

‘Thank you for your email dated 29the June 2016 addressed to our Data Access and Compliance Unit. I understand that you were informed by them that your request could not be dealt with as an FOI because you did not provide your full name. It is also noted that the questions you are asking cannot be handled under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as they do not refer to any official records held. Your request is therefore being handled as a general query.

The MoJ was asked whether or not it was for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office to determine whether a Judge has been biased, based on the judge's actions (conduct) in coming to his decision, rather than his actual decision. The appropriate way to challenge his behaviour in that case would then not seem to be through the appellate process.

By way of assistance, we are able to advise you on some of the points you raised as follows:

Q1. I would like disclosing whatever information the MoJ holds regarding instructions/guidance etc., that judges must work to in order not to give an impression of favouring one party over another like for instances, what evidence to take into consideration and what not to consider and the weight to be placed upon each party's representations.

ANSWER. Judges take a judicial oath to do right to all manner of people without fear or favour.
Judges receive training on case management, weighing up evidence and making judgments. Where judicial discretion can be exercised the College does not teach judges to arrive at certain conclusions as this would contravene judicial independence. Rather training will seek to produce consistent approaches to problems.

Q2. What are the consequences for a judge who obviously shows bias to one particular party?

ANSWER. There are likely to be grounds for appeal if it can be demonstrated that relevant evidence has been overlooked. You would have to refer any such query to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

Q3. Is there a body from which a victim may claim compensation who has incurred substantial costs as a consequence of an unfair hearing?

ANSWER. No. The notion is entirely reliant on the premise that somebody outside of the judicial / court system could decide there has been an unfair hearing and such a body does not exist and would be completely contrary to our constitution. Refer to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which further strengthened the independence of the judiciary. It follows that only an Appeal Court can rule on whether the original hearing was fair.

I hope these responses go in some way to answer your questions.’

CONTENTIONS

The MoJ’s responses are inconsistent. Contrary to the 7 October reply the request was dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act on providing my name after which it determined the request vexatious and refused to provide the information. This leads me to suspect that the matter has been improperly considered.

Yours sincerely

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The case has now been allocated to the Lead Case Officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate. (14 October 2016)

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The previous note was incorrect. A request made along similar lines to Haringey Borough Council has now been allocated to an Investigating Officer. See below:

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

Neil Gilliatt (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The case was allocated to the Senior Case Officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate. (19 October 2016)

Will left an annotation ()

Information Commissioner's 1 February 2017 Decision Notice.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

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