Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
This is a follow up to a recent FoI request to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC):
Information provided includes correspondence from Anna Klonowski to EHRC dated 17/1/11 which states-
"I have been commissioned by Wirral Council to undertake an independent investigation surrounding issues raised by a whistleblower in relation to Adult Social Services provided to service users with a learning disability
As part of this review I have been asked to include issues relating to allegations of discrimination on the grounds of disability .It is to this end that I have been passed a copy of Mr.Mike Smith's correspondence with Angela Eagle MP
In order that I may better understand the EHR 's (sic) position on this matter ,I should be grateful if you could ask Mr.Smith and/or his nominated representative if it would be possible to arrange a meeting to discuss his views and conclusions ?.Mr.Norman from the council would also like to attend this meeting.......".
EHRC further informed me that : "Members of EHRC met with Anna Klonowski for an informal exploratory meeting ,which was held in confidence without any prejudice to any consideration by the EHRC on the exercise of its enforcement powers.Hence there are no minutes of this meeting".
The Independent Review of WBC Response to Claims made by Mr Martin Morton prepared by Anna Klonowski considers the issue of Disability Discrimination on pages 241-245 but curiously no mention is made of this meeting nor is there any reference to EHRC Disability Chair Mike Smith's letter to Angela Eagle MP which states:
" I do not agree with the conclusions drawn by the Councils Director of Law (Mr.Norman) namely that discrimination did not occur because the residents were not overcharged for reasons relating to their disability.
Current discrimination law and supporting case law clearly establish that motive and intent are irrelevant to this issue.The fact that disabled people were subject to unlawful levels of charging (whether or not the cause was maladministration)".
Disconcertingly the Independent Review report concentrates solely on the legal opinion of Legal Rep 5
Legal Rep 5 states "under my terms of engagement ,I am specifically required to opine on the question of whether or not the Council has discriminated against the affected service users.Specifically,I am asked to comment on whether or not the Council's actions constitute disability discrimination.The relevant law for the periods under review is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995".
I understand Legal Rep 5 to be DL Piper LLP UK - which I understand to be part of the largest law firm in the world.
Legal Rep 5 states that " The Council's actions clearly indicate poor administration,but the fact that other persons were arguably treated more favourably than the residents of the Moreton properties,is not,in my view,indicative of the Moreton Property residents being treated in a discriminatory fashion"
Legal Rep 5 seemingly fails to consider that charges imposed upon 16 people with learning disabilities comprised 100% of disability benefits or the fact there was an existing charging policy which applied to other people or that there was specifically no consultation with people with learning disabilities and/or their representatives about this unlawful charge or that charges at their height amounted to £100+ a week whilst everyone else in the same circumstance paid precisely nothing.
Moreover there is absolutely no reference to case law to support this "view".
Therefore I would like to request the following information:
a) The information that was provided by Wirral Council and their representatives (including Ms.Klonowski)to DLA Piper to enable them to make their "legal opinion"
b) Confirmation as to whether that Wirral council's Monitoring Officer Bill Norman met with EHRC
c) Copies of any notes of the meeting with EHRC undertaken on behalf of the Council by Ms.Klonowski
d) All correspondence between Wirral Council/DLA Piper/Anna Klonowski outlining the the contracting and commissioning arrangements between the parties.
c) Full details and copies of terms of engagement of DLA Piper
d) A full copy of DLA Piper's legal opinion
d) How much DLA Piper were paid for their legal "opine" in relation to discrimination?
e) Following commitments made at Council meetings following the publication of the Independent Review report, how much in total have Wirral Council agreed to pay back to those who were unlawfully charged at Moreton properties and how much has been paid back so far?
Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'He who pays DLA Piper calls the tune'.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
Please see the attached response to your request for an internal review. I
do apologise for the length of time you have had to wait for this
This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge
Further to our email of yesterday please be advised that we are waiting on
a response to question 8 of your request but did not want to further delay
responding to you.
Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,
I refer specifically to your response to c)Full details and copies of terms of engagement of DLA Piper.
You ask : "Please confirm if you are referring to the engagement of DLA Piper by Wirral Borough Council whether jointly or singly on a specific matter and if so please specify that matter".
I will not dwell on the fact that I think you are being deliberately obtuse in this response as you know perfectly well from this FOI request as to the matter to which I am referring.
It is for this reason that I usually provide background information to my requests.
However I thank you - it is a salutory lesson that I must make my requests much more specific "so there is no misunderstanding".
The specific matter to which I am referring is the enagement of DLA Piper in matters relating to the Independent Review undertaken by AKA Associates on behalf of Wirral Council.This is primarily but not exclusively concerned with issues of Discrimination covered on page 241-5 of the AKA report( January 2012).
Please advise if you require even more specific information.
In consideration of the length of time I have had to wait I would respectfully request a prompt response to this reply,especially when there is every possibility I will be making an appeal to the ICO.
Thank you for your email below, please see attachment as Council's
response and I trust you find the information useful.
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