We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Paul Hopkins please sign in and let everyone know.

In the absence of PCC Authorisation, WHO in NP approved £681,000 of external payments?

We're waiting for Paul Hopkins to read a recent response and update the status.

Dear Northumbria Police,

I refer to your responses to a previous FOI Request 200/18 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...
I seek further information following your disclosure that the monies spent on external advisors throughout this case were
April 2013-April 2014 £38,638.60
July 2014 – August 2016 £554,528.90
Legal fees for 4 retired Officers £17,736.60
Sept 2016 – January 2018 £71,080.94
Total £681,985.04

I note the formal Governance framework in place between Northumbria Police and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner. In connection with any Employment Tribunal Claim, the Financial Framework defines the responsibility of the PCC very clearly.
A. All Employment Claims & Employment Appeal Tribunal Claims against The Chief Constable should be dealt with by the Force Legal Department
B. The Chief Constable has decision-making authority up to £25,000. The PCC has decision-making authority for all Employment Tribunal Claims in excess of £25,000
C. Exceptional Claims should be notified to PCC and conducted in consultation with PCC (as requested) on case by case basis.
D. The Director provides a Quarterly Report on all Employment Tribunal Claims
-------------------------------
With regard to the recent Employment Tribunal between Ms Denise Aubrey and the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police – from July 2014 until January 2018 – I note that Northumbria Police have changed their response from
“I can confirm that consultations did occur with the PCC though the details are not recorded as they were verbal” to
“No information held” in respect of whether the Expenditure by Northumbria Police was approved by the PCC throughout the Claim period and whether the PCC received regular Reports from the Director of Legal Services with regard to the increasing costs of the Employment Tribunal Claim.

Given that these costs grossly exceed the Governance Arrangement limits of £25,000 for any Employment Tribunal case, and given that your response to the previous Freedom of Information request says that there is “No information available” in respect of the necessary authorisation documents, and given the response of the OPCC that Ms Aubrey’s case was not one of those “conducted in consultation with PCC (as requested) on case by case basis”, I wish to ask WHO (Rank of Officer or Grade of staff member) was responsible for
1. Engaging Samuel Phillips as the initial external legal advisors in this case;
2. Instructed Samuel Phillip during this case;
3. Approved the invoices from Samuel Phillips for payment

4. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors in this case;
5. Instructed Eversheds during this case;
6. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment

7. Engaged Muckle LLP as the initial external legal advisors for retired members of staff and Officers who sought Reporting Restrictions at the Employment Tribunal Hearing;
8. Instructed Muckle LLP during this case;
9. Approved the invoices from Muckle LLP for payment

10. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors to pursue a Cost Application;
11. Instructed Eversheds during the Cost Application;
12. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment during the Cost Application

13. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for reporting to senior Northumbria Police Officers;
14. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for reporting to Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner;

Given that the external expenditure on Ms Aubrey’s case amounted to over £681,000 can you please explain why Northumbria Police failed to gain written Authorisation from the PCC for this expenditure?
Also, if there is no written authorisation for this expenditure, please explain whether the Northumbria Police Auditors were informed that these monies had been paid to external parties without any formal approval for the expenditure. Were the Accounts for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 signed off and approved?
When completing the Financial Audit for 2017/18, will (or has) the Head of Finance informed the Auditors that significant monies have been paid to external legal advisors WITHOUT any formal authorisation being given?
If there is no written Authorisation for spending more than £25,000 on this Employment Tribunal case, then please explain what actions have been taken against those Officers and/or Staff who have approved payments to external parties without authorisation of the PCC in this case.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

Thank you for your email received today in which you make a request for information that Northumbria Police may hold in accordance with the Freedom Of Information Act 2000

We are in the process of dealing with your request and a response should be provided to you by 25/05/2018 which is in accordance with the legislation.

Yours sincerely

Information Management Unit

show quoted sections

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Provision of Information held by Northumbria Police under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the" Act")

With regard to your email in which you make a request for information that
Northumbria Police may hold.

I regret that Northumbria Police will not be able to complete its response
to you by the date originally stated. We are still researching the
information held and considering whether any exemptions under the Act may
apply.

I can now advise you that the new date for the provision of a response is
25/06/18

 

I can assure that every effort will be made to ensure that a response will
be provided to you within this new timescale.

Your attention is drawn to the attachment which contains your complaint
rights.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Jan Mcewan

Information Management Unit

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,
I note the response posted and also my conversation with Ms McEwan (of the Information Unit) on Friday 25th May in which she reported that neither the Finance Department nor the Legal Department have responded to any of her requests for information so far.

Therefore, the first month has passed with (apparently) zero actions. The questions which I am asking in this FOI are exceedingly simple.. .
1. WHO (rank or grade) engaged, instructed or approved payments to three firms of solicitors engaged in Ms Aubrey's case; and
2. DID the Head of Legal Services fulfil the Governance Arrangements by reporting regularly to the OPCC about the progress of the Employment Tribunal case during the 42 months between July 2014 and January 2018?

Surely, it can not take this long to answer such simple questions - especially when both Northumbria Police and the Police & Crime Commissioner's Office both say that there is no documentation available for any request or approval for £681,000 to be spent on this case. SOMEBODY in Northumbria Police engaged, instructed and paid these huge legal bills!

Therefore, I am requesting that an Internal Review is conducted to ascertain WHY no progress has been made in the first month of dealing with this request and WHEN can I expect to get answers to the very simple questions which I have asked.
Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

On 25th April 2018, I submitted my original FOI query to ask WHO in Northumbria Police had authorised payments of over £681,000 on the legal fees related to the Employment Tribunal of Ms Denise Aubrey.

I note that on 25th May 2018, Ms Jan McEwan promised that "I can now advise you that the new date for the provision of a response is 25/06/18. I can assure (you) that every effort will be made to ensure that a response will be provided to you within this new timescale. "

More than 5 months later, she has failed to respond to the very simple questions about WHO in Northumbria Police authorised the expenditure of £681,000 on the legal costs of Ms Aubrey's Employment Tribunal. I note that other Press Reports indicate that even more than this amount was also spent on internal Police Officer and staff time connected to the same Employment Tribunal process.

Following a clear response on 4th April 2018 from Mr Scott Duffy, Director of Business of the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, it is clear that it was nobody in the OPCC gave authorisation to Northumbria Police to spend any more than £25,000. See https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

In the absence of OPCC authorisation, I can only assume that the invoices for legal advice were approved by either
Mr Steve Ashman, former Chief Constable
Mr Winton Keenen, current Chief Constable but formerly Deputy Chief Constable; or
Mrs Joscelyn Lawson, Director of Human Resources

The Governance Arrangements clearly indicate that approval for expenditure of more than £25,000 on Employment Tribunal cases must come from the OPCC.

In particular, the expenditure of £71,080.94 between Sept 2016 and January 2018 resulted in the Award of only £15,000 - an exceptionally poorly judged investment of Police financial resources. Even more so when there does not appear to be any authorisation from the OPCC for this use of the Police budget.

I would ask for confirmation that Northumbria Police have received the £15,000 costs which were awarded to them at the Cost Application Hearing in December 2017. This means that the Policing Budget has suffered a net loss of over £666,000 as a result of the invoices which were approved by one or more of these senior officers or staff.

Given the need for every available penny of the Police budget to be focused on front line services, it is of obvious public interest for this matter to be clarified.

If I do not receive a response to my very simple question within the next 7 days (by 13th December 2018) then I shall have to contact the Information Commissioners Office or my local Member of Parliament to require that these questions are answered forthwith.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

Thank you for your email received today in which you make a request for
information that Northumbria Police may hold in accordance with the
Freedom Of Information Act 2000

 

We are in the process of dealing with your request and a response should
be provided to you by 09/01/2019 which is in accordance with the
legislation.

 

To avoid doubt we are taking your submission as below.  If this is not the
case please advise by return

 

I would ask for confirmation that Northumbria Police have received the
£15,000 costs which were awarded to them at the Cost Application Hearing
in December 2017.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Management Unit

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,
If you read my correspondence today then you would have seen that the bulk of my letter refers to an existing FOI request which you promised to reply to by 25th JUNE 2018. You are now almost SIX MONTHS LATE in replying to the very simple question of WHO in Northumbria Police signed off the invoices to spend £681,000 from the Policing budget for the legal costs associated with Ms Aubrey's Employment Tribunal.

I am not querying the 10 months salary which she was paid whilst undergoing a Misconduct investigation, nor the thousands of hours of senior officer time spent on all aspects of her case. I merely wish to ask WHO authorised the payment of this substantial amount of money whilst the Police Service is making enormous cuts in its front line services and requesting more public funding.

I note that your response today is potentially yet a further attempt to EVADE answering the central question.

Note that I shall be reporting your failure to answer the central question by referring this matter to the Information Commissioner's Office and to my Member of Parliament within the next week if you continue to refuse to answer this question.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

I understand that, by law, under all circumstances, Northumbria Police should have responded by now.

I am still waiting for a reply to my FOI requested on 25th April (almost TEN MONTHS ago). Please note that I have raised this matter with both the Information Commissioner's Office and also my Member of Parliament. I would appreciate your response as quickly as possible - as it must be a very simple matter to discover WHO approved the payment of over £681,000 of legal fees to Eversheds and/or Samuel Phillips solicitors.

I note again that the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have twice stated that they have no documentation of having provided any authorisation for significant expenditure of police funds.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

I note AGAIN that you have failed to reply to this FOI request by your last promised date of 9th January 2019.

I note that my first request for this information was on 25th APRIL 2018. Hence it has taken almost NINE months and you can still not tell me WHO in Northumbria Police authorised the payment of £681,000 of legal costs incurred during the full Employment Tribunal processes of the case against Ms Denise Aubrey.

I note also that the OPCC have twice confirmed that they have no documentation of having authorised any of these monies to be spent.

I urgently require you to answer this very simple question.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

I note that the Information Commissioner's Office wrote to you on 17th January stating
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Information Commissioner has received a complaint from Mr Hopkins stating that no response has been sent to an information request submitted to your organisation on 25 April 2018, which you have said was received.

Any public authority in receipt of such a request is under a duty to respond within 20 working days of receipt. As you have not responded but did acknowledge receipt of the request, please now respond within 10 working days of receipt of this letter.

You should state whether or not the information is held in a recorded form. If it is held, you should either provide the information or issue a refusal notice in accordance with the requirements of section 17 of the FOIA or regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations as appropriate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The 10 working days has now expired.
You have had over NINE MONTHS to disclose WHO in Northumbria Police authorised over £681,000 to be spent on legal fees connected to Ms Denise Aubrey's Employment Tribunal processes between 2014 and 2017.

You are aware that the Governance Arrangements require you to obtain authorisation from the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) to spend more than £25,000. It is clear that OPCC have twice stated that they have no documentation of such authorisation being requested or granted.

Hence, there is significant public interest, at a time of severe austerity, as to WHO authorised these substantial payments from the Police budget.

I await your urgent response and disclosure of this information.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

1 Attachment

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

 

Thank you for your e mail dated 6  December 2018 in which you made a
request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria
Police.

 

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of
access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority
(including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

 

You asked:

 

1.     I would ask for confirmation that Northumbria Police have received
the £15,000 costs which were awarded to them at the Cost Application
Hearing in December 2017.

 

2.     WHO approved the payment of over £681,000 of legal fees to
Eversheds and/or Samuel Phillips solicitors.

 

 

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I
provide a response for your attention.

 

 

1. We shall neither confirm nor deny any information is held is response
to your query and by doing so rely on the following exemption.

 

Section 40(5) Personal Information

 

S40 (5) Personal Information;

To give a statement of the reasons why neither confirming nor denying is
appropriate in this case would itself involve the disclosure of exempt
information, therefore under s17(4), no explanation can be given. To the
extent that section 40 (5)  applies, we have determined that in all the
circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exclusion
of the duty to neither confirm nor deny that any payment has or has not
been received.

Whether an individual had or had not paid the costs awarded against them
is their own personal information and therefore Section 40(5) is
appropriate.

 

2.   Payments were authorised by the former Chief Constables’, Sue Sim
 and Steve Ashman.

 

 

Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a
specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an
indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another.
Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the
procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses
between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative
purposes.

 

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual
property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be
strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as
amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not
re-use this information for any commercial purpose.

 

You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police routinely publish
information via the Disclosure Log. The aim of the Disclosure Log is to
promote openness and transparency by voluntarily placing information into
the public arena.

 

The Disclosure Log contains copies of some of the information that has
been disclosed by Northumbria Police in response to requests made under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to
publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the wider
public interest.

 

The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the
requester.

 

I have provided the relevant link below.

 

[1]https://beta.northumbria.police.uk/about...

 

 

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have
handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue
informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our
complaints procedure, attached.

 

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and
reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain
whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.

Yours sincerely

 

Michael Cleugh

Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor

 

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Martin McGartland left an annotation ()

Another Northumbria Police cover up ...

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

 

Thank you for your e mail dated 25 April 2018 in which you made a request
for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.

 

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of
access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority
(including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

 

You asked:

 

I refer to your responses to a previous FOI Request 200/18
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

I seek further information following your disclosure that the monies spent
on external advisors throughout this case were

April 2013-April 2014 £38,638.60

July 2014 – August 2016 £554,528.90

Legal fees for 4 retired Officers £17,736.60

Sept 2016 – January 2018 £71,080.94

Total £681,985.04

 

I note the formal Governance framework in place between Northumbria Police
and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner. In connection with any
Employment Tribunal Claim, the Financial Framework defines the
responsibility of the PCC very clearly.

A. All Employment Claims & Employment Appeal Tribunal Claims against The
Chief Constable should be dealt with by the Force Legal Department

B. The Chief Constable has decision-making authority up to £25,000. The
PCC has decision-making authority for all Employment Tribunal Claims in
excess of £25,000

C. Exceptional Claims should be notified to PCC and conducted in
consultation with PCC (as requested) on case by case basis.

D. The Director provides a Quarterly Report on all Employment Tribunal
Claims

 

With regard to the recent Employment Tribunal between Ms Denise Aubrey and
the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police – from July 2014 until January
2018 – I note that Northumbria Police have changed their response from “I
can confirm that consultations did occur with the PCC though the details
are not recorded as they were verbal” to “No information held” in respect
of whether the Expenditure by Northumbria Police was approved by the PCC
throughout the Claim period and whether the PCC received regular Reports
from the Director of Legal Services with regard to the increasing costs of
the Employment Tribunal Claim.

 

Given that these costs grossly exceed the Governance Arrangement limits of
£25,000 for any Employment Tribunal case, and given that your response to
the previous Freedom of Information request says that there is “No
information available” in respect of the necessary authorisation
documents, and given the response of the OPCC that Ms Aubrey’s case was
not one of those “conducted in consultation with PCC (as requested) on
case by case basis”, I wish to ask WHO (Rank of Officer or Grade of staff
member) was responsible for

 

1. Engaging Samuel Phillips as the initial external legal advisors in this
case;

2. Instructed Samuel Phillip during this case;

3. Approved the invoices from Samuel Phillips for payment

4. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors in this
case;

5. Instructed Eversheds during this case;

6. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment

7. Engaged Muckle LLP as the initial external legal advisors for retired
members of staff and Officers who sought Reporting Restrictions at the
Employment Tribunal Hearing;

8. Instructed Muckle LLP during this case;

9. Approved the invoices from Muckle LLP for payment

10. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors to pursue
a Cost Application;

11. Instructed Eversheds during the Cost Application;

12. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment during the Cost
Application

13. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for
reporting to senior Northumbria Police Officers;

14. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for
reporting to Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner;

15. Given that the external expenditure on Ms Aubrey’s case amounted to
over £681,000 can you please explain why Northumbria Police failed to gain
written Authorisation from the PCC for this expenditure?

16. Also, if there is no written authorisation for this expenditure,
please explain whether the Northumbria Police Auditors were informed that
these monies had been paid to external parties without any formal approval
for the expenditure. Were the Accounts for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17
signed off and approved?

17. When completing the Financial Audit for 2017/18, will (or has) the
Head of Finance informed the Auditors that significant monies have been
paid to external legal advisors WITHOUT any formal authorisation being
given?

18. If there is no written Authorisation for spending more than £25,000 on
this Employment Tribunal case, then please explain what actions have been
taken against those Officers and/or Staff who have approved payments to
external parties without authorisation of the PCC in this case.

 

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I
provide a response for your attention.

 

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within
Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested
is held by Northumbria Police.

 

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.

 

1.              The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police was Mrs Sue Sim
and she was responsible for engaging legal advisors for the case.

2.              The Head of Human Resources was responsible for
instructing external Legal Advisors in the case.

3.              The Head of Human Resources was responsible for approving
invoices from external Legal Advisors in the case.

4.              The Chief constable, Mr Steve Ashman instructed Eversheds
as legal advisors at this point in the proceedings.

5.              The Head of Human Resources and the Director of Legal
Services instructed Eversheds whilst they were appointed as external legal
advisors in the case.

6.              As per question 5 above.

7.              A response will be provided to this before 10^th February

8.              Instruction came from the retired officers and staff.

9.              Initially the Head of Legal Services approved costs
though, final approval was sought from the then Chief Constable.

10.           The Chief Constable.

11.           The Head of Legal Services.

12.           The Head of Legal Services

13.           No information held

14.           No information held

15.           No information held.

16.           Not applicable

17.           Not applicable

18.           Not applicable

 

 

Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a
specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an
indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another.
Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the
procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses
between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative
purposes.

 

The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual
property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be
strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as
amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not
re-use this information for any commercial purpose.

 

You may be interested to know that Northumbria Police routinely publish
information via the Disclosure Log. The aim of the Disclosure Log is to
promote openness and transparency by voluntarily placing information into
the public arena.

 

The Disclosure Log contains copies of some of the information that has
been disclosed by Northumbria Police in response to requests made under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

Whilst it is not possible to publish all responses we will endeavour to
publish those where we feel that the information disclosed is in the wider
public interest.

 

The Disclosure Log will be updated once responses have been sent to the
requester.

 

I have provided the relevant link below.

 

[2]http://www.northumbria.police.uk/freedom...

 

How to complain

If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have
handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue
informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our
complaints procedure, attached below

[3]http://www.northumbria.police.uk/freedom...

If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and
reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information
Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain
whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.

Yours sincerely

 

Michael Cleugh

Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor

 

[NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED]

 

 

NORTHUMBRIA POLICE PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE The information
contained in this message and any attachment(s) is confidential and
intended only for the attention of the named organisation or individual to
whom it is addressed. The message may contain information that is covered
by legal, professional or other privilege. No mistake in transmission is
intended to waive or compromise any such privilege. This message has been
sent over public networks and the sender cannot be held responsible for
its integrity. If you are not the intended recipient be aware that any
disclosure, copying, distribution or action taken in reliance of the
information contained herein is strictly prohibited, and is contrary to
the provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, 1988 and of the
Data Protection Act, 2018. Any views expressed are those of the sender
and, unless specifically stated, do not necessarily represent the view of
Northumbria Police. We cannot accept any liability for any loss or damage
sustained as a result of software viruses. It is your responsibility to
carry out such virus checking as is necessary. If you have received this
message in error, please notify the sender by e-mail at once and delete
the message immediately. For more information about Northumbria Police
please visit our website - http://www.northumbria.police.uk

References

Visible links
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2. http://www.northumbria.police.uk/freedom...
3. http://www.northumbria.police.uk/freedom...

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,
Thank you for your responses of 4th February and 5th February.

I note that you have stated that, in connection with the £681,000 of legal costs incurred by Northumbria Police between 2013 and 2018, "Payments were authorised by former Chief Constables Sue Sim and Steve Ashman."

Also I note that throughout this case you state that external legal advisors were instructed by and had their invoices approved by the Head of Human Resources and the Head of Legal Services.

I note that you have already stated that Northumbria Police have spent over £71,000 on the Cost Application part of Ms Aubrey's Employment Tribunal case which culminated in a two day Hearing in Leeds on 17/18th December 2017.

Please confirm that Mr Winton Keenan was appointed to the role of Acting Chief Constable on 1st October 2017.

Given that both former Chief Constables Sim and Ashman had left NP prior to Mr Keenan's appointment, please confirm whether the payments of over £71,000 were approved by Acting Chief Constable Keenan or whether the Head of HR and Head of Legal Services acted without his approval in this matter.

Given the widely-reported close personal relationship between the Head of Human resources and the Acting Chief Constable, it is difficult to understand how he could not have been aware of the Employment Tribunal Cost Application progress and the increasing legal expenses being incurred.

Please confirm whether Acting Chief Constable Keenan had authorisation from the Police & Crime Commissioner to incur these additional costs - as clearly outlined in the Governance Arrangements.

Please also confirm whether the ever increasing costs of Ms Aubrey's Employment Tribunal costs were ever reported to the Police & Crime Commissioner as the Governance Arrangements clear state that the Head of Legal Services should report such matters on a Quarterly basis.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

Thank you for your email received today in which you make a request for
information that Northumbria Police may hold in accordance with the
Freedom Of Information Act 2000

 

We are in the process of dealing with your request and a response should
be provided to you by 06/03/2019 which is in accordance with the
legislation.

 

Your request is being taken as below.  If this is not correct please
advise by return

 

1.           Please confirm that Mr Winton Keenan was appointed to the
role of Acting Chief Constable on 1st October 2017.

 

2.           Given that both former Chief Constables Sim and Ashman had
left NP prior to Mr Keenan's appointment, please confirm whether the
payments of over £71,000 were approved by Acting Chief Constable Keenan or
whether the Head of HR and Head of Legal Services acted without his
approval in this matter.

 

3.           Please confirm whether Acting Chief Constable Keenan had
authorisation from the Police & Crime Commissioner to incur these
additional costs - as clearly outlined in the Governance Arrangements.

 

4.           Please also confirm whether the ever increasing costs of Ms
Aubrey's Employment Tribunal costs were ever reported to the Police &
Crime Commissioner as the Governance Arrangements clear state that the
Head of Legal Services should report such matters on a Quarterly basis.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Management Unit

 

[1]www.northumbria.police.uk   [2]www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk

 

 

'Northumbria Police will be outstanding in the service we provide'

 

'We will do this through protecting the Vulnerable, delivering quality
Investigations and applying Problem solving to everything we do to protect
the communities we serve.'

 

show quoted sections

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Dear Mr Hopkins

 

As per previous email on this subject, a complete response (including the
response to Q7) is now attached below.

 

Michael Cleugh 5517
Data Protection & Disclosure Adviser
Asset Management
Northumbria Police & Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

[1]www.northumbria.police.uk | [2]www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk

'Northumbria Police will be outstanding in the service we provide'

'We will do this through protecting the Vulnerable, delivering quality
Investigations and applying Problem solving to everything we do to protect
the communities we serve.'

 

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

I refer to your communication of 7th February in which you re-worded my outstanding FOI questions as

1. Please confirm that Mr Winton Keenan was appointed to the
role of Acting Chief Constable on 1st October 2017.

2. Given that both former Chief Constables Sim and Ashman had
left NP prior to Mr Keenan's appointment, please confirm whether the
payments of over £71,000 were approved by Acting Chief Constable Keenan or
whether the Head of HR and Head of Legal Services acted without his
approval in this matter.

3. Please confirm whether Acting Chief Constable Keenan had
authorisation from the Police & Crime Commissioner to incur these
additional costs - as clearly outlined in the Governance Arrangements.

4. Please also confirm whether the ever increasing costs of Ms
Aubrey's Employment Tribunal costs were ever reported to the Police &
Crime Commissioner as the Governance Arrangements clear state that the
Head of Legal Services should report such matters on a Quarterly basis.

I would like to add to this two further, related questions:-

5. Given that both Northumbria Police and also the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner have both stated that they have "No information" of any request for Authorisation to spend more than the £25,000 stated in the Governance Arrangements, it is clear that Northumbria Police officials, including former and (potentially) the current Chief Constable plus the Head of Human Resources and Head of Legal Services have repeatedly approved payments which may amount to over £681,000 WITHOUT LAWFUL APPROVAL by the PCC, please outline what disciplinary action has been taken against any Officer or Staff member of the Force. If no action has been taken, then please explain who has taken this decision and why.

6. Please also confirm that a significant allegation by former Chief Constable Ashman against Ms Aubrey concerned in her Disciplinary Investigations in 2013/2014 was she was responsible for the actions of one of her senior solicitors, a Mr Stephen Crute, who had settled a large number of Civil Claims in May 2013 allegedly OUTSIDE of the Governance Arrangements at that time.

I look forward to your earliest reply to these questions.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

 

Thank you for your email received today in which you make a request for
information that Northumbria Police may hold in accordance with the
Freedom Of Information Act 2000

 

We are in the process of dealing with your request and a response should
be provided to you by 11/03/2019 which is in accordance with the
legislation.

 

To avoid doubt this request - FOI 201/19 – relates to  your questions,
received today, as below.

 

1. Given that both Northumbria Police and also the Office of the Police &
Crime Commissioner have both stated that they have "No information" of any
request for Authorisation to spend more than the £25,000 stated in the
Governance Arrangements, it is clear that Northumbria Police officials,
including former and (potentially) the current Chief Constable plus the
Head of Human Resources and Head of Legal Services have repeatedly
approved payments which may amount to over £681,000 WITHOUT LAWFUL
APPROVAL by the PCC, please outline what disciplinary action has been
taken against any Officer or Staff member of the Force. If no action has
been taken, then please explain who has taken this decision and why.

 

2. Please also confirm that a significant allegation by former Chief
Constable Ashman against Ms Aubrey concerned in her Disciplinary
Investigations in 2013/2014 was she was responsible for the actions of one
of her senior solicitors, a Mr Stephen Crute, who had settled a large
number of Civil Claims in May 2013 allegedly OUTSIDE of the Governance
Arrangements at that time.

 

Your previous 4 questions, received last week, remain as FOI 175/19.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Management Unit

[1]www.northumbria.police.uk | [2]www.northumbria-pcc.gov.uk

'Northumbria Police will be outstanding in the service we provide'

'We will do this through protecting the Vulnerable, delivering quality
Investigations and applying Problem solving to everything we do to protect
the communities we serve.'

 

NORTHUMBRIA POLICE PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE The information
contained in this message and any attachment(s) is confidential and
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Dear Northumbria Police,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Northumbria Police's handling of my FOI request 'In the absence of PCC Authorisation, WHO in NP approved £681,000 of external payments?'.

I made my FOI request on 25th APRIL 2018 and have been in correspondence ever since to get a complete response. I have complained to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) about your tardy and incomplete response. I understand from the ICO that you assured them that you would give a substantive response by 5th February.

You did make a significant response - however, there were many omissions.

I responded on 6th February to point these out to you. I wrote again on 8th February. Your omissions involve failing to disclose the role of Chief Constable Winton Keenan in the matter of whether he had knowledge of or authorised the £71,000 which was spent on Ms Aubrey's Cost Application part of the Employment Tribunal process. Your claim that only Chief Constable Sim and Ashman made such decisions (- to approve the costs of the Employment Tribunal without authorisation from the PCC) is not tenable as BOTH of them had left the Force well before the Cost Hearing.

I request an urgent response - given that it is now well over 200 working days since my original FOI was submitted.

I also request that you should reverse you decision to split off two clarification questions which I posed on 8th February in to a separate FOI should be reversed. I view this as yet another delaying tactic.

I am requesting this Internal Review on the advice of the ICO and I shall keep them informed of the outcome.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

Your request for an internal review is noted.
A response will be sent to you as soon as we are able.

Regards

FOI team

show quoted sections

Martin McGartland left an annotation ()

Another BIG DIRTY Northumbria Police / Winton Keenen Cover Up ..... The force is sooooooo Corrupt to the very Core.

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

It is now 11 MONTHS (25th April 2018) since I first asked questions about "In the absence of PCC Authorisation, WHO in NP approved £681,000 of external payments?".

It is well over ONE MONTH (15th February) since I asked for an Internal Review of your failure to answer who authorised the £71,000 paid for external legal advice for the Cost Application Hearing in December 2017. It could clearly NOT have been former Chief Constable Steve Ashman as he left the organisation in September 2017.

I look forward to your immediate response. If the PCC did not approve this expenditure, then unless it was authorised by the current Chief Constable , Winton Keenen, then there is a serious Governance issue and somebody should be facing disciplinary investigation. If it WAS authorised by the current Chief Constable, then he was knowingly acting outside of the Governance Arrangements (Employment Tribunal costs above £25,000 require PCC authorisation) with the OPCC and this should also be investigated. At a time of austerity and a substantial increase in the Northumbria Police precept, this lack of accountability over financial expenditure is of significant public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Dear Freedom of Information Mailbox,

It is now more than ONE YEAR since I submitted this Freedom of Information Request to ascertain WHO authorised the expenditure of over £681,000 on legal fees associated with the Employment Tribunal process against Ms Denise Aubrey.

It is now more than TWO MONTHS since I requested an Internal Review in to your failure to properly respond to this FOI Request. I have had no response.

If Northumbria Police continue to state that it was in the public interest for them to pursue a Cost Application against Ms Aubrey in December 2017 (which has cost over £71,000 yet recovered only £15,000) then you should be transparent about WHO took the decision. It could NOT have been former Chief Constables Sim or Ashman because Mrs Sim retired in 2015 and Mr Ashman left the Force more than three months before the Cost Application Hearing.

Even if the Force failed to get authorisation from the Police & Crime Commissioner for this action (as the OPCC has repeatedly stated that they have no documentation of either a request or authorisation being granted), there should surely have been some documented 'merit assessment' undertaken before committing public funds to an extremely expensive legal counsel.

This 'merit assessment', or some-such internal process, should surely point towards the names of the person/people who would have taken the decision to authorise the expenditure. If such a document does not exist then this raises very many questions about the governance and management of public funds by Northumbria Police and this should be referred directly to the PCC, Dame Vera Baird QC, for investigation.

I shall copy this note to the PCC, my MP and to the Information Commissioner's Office to request that they insist that you disclose this information in the public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hopkins

Freedom of Information Mailbox, Northumbria Police

 

 

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

 

Thank you for your correspondence dated 15^TH February 2019 in which you
requested a review of the response to your request for access to certain
information which may be held by Northumbria Police.

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of
access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police)
subject to certain limitations and exemptions

You asked for:

I refer to your responses to a previous FOI Request 200/18
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

I seek further information following your disclosure that the monies spent
on external advisors throughout this case were

April 2013-April 2014 £38,638.60

July 2014 – August 2016 £554,528.90

Legal fees for 4 retired Officers £17,736.60

Sept 2016 – January 2018 £71,080.94

Total £681,985.04

I note the formal Governance framework in place between Northumbria Police
and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner. In connection with any
Employment Tribunal Claim, the Financial Framework defines the
responsibility of the PCC very clearly.

A. All Employment Claims & Employment Appeal Tribunal Claims against The
Chief Constable should be dealt with by the Force Legal Department

B. The Chief Constable has decision-making authority up to £25,000. The
PCC has decision-making authority for all Employment Tribunal Claims in
excess of £25,000

C. Exceptional Claims should be notified to PCC and conducted in
consultation with PCC (as requested) on case by case basis.

D. The Director provides a Quarterly Report on all Employment Tribunal
Claims

With regard to the recent Employment Tribunal between Ms Denise Aubrey and
the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police – from July 2014 until January
2018 – I note that Northumbria Police have changed their response from “I
can confirm that consultations did occur with the PCC though the details
are not recorded as they were verbal” to “No information held” in respect
of whether the Expenditure by Northumbria Police was approved by the PCC
throughout the Claim period and whether the PCC received regular Reports
from the Director of Legal Services with regard to the increasing costs of
the Employment Tribunal Claim.

Given that these costs grossly exceed the Governance Arrangement limits of
£25,000 for any Employment Tribunal case, and given that your response to
the previous Freedom of Information request says that there is “No
information available” in respect of the necessary authorisation
documents, and given the response of the OPCC that Ms Aubrey’s case was
not one of those “conducted in consultation with PCC (as requested) on
case by case basis”, I wish to ask WHO (Rank of Officer or Grade of staff
member) was responsible for

1. Engaging Samuel Phillips as the initial external legal advisors in this
case;

2. Instructed Samuel Phillip during this case;

3. Approved the invoices from Samuel Phillips for payment

4. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors in this
case;

5. Instructed Eversheds during this case;

6. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment

7. Engaged Muckle LLP as the initial external legal advisors for retired
members of staff and Officers who sought Reporting Restrictions at the
Employment Tribunal Hearing;

8. Instructed Muckle LLP during this case;

9. Approved the invoices from Muckle LLP for payment

10. Engaged Eversheds as the subsequent external legal advisors to pursue
a Cost Application;

11. Instructed Eversheds during the Cost Application;

12. Approved the invoices from Eversheds for payment during the Cost
Application

13. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for
reporting to senior Northumbria Police Officers;

14. Prepared regular reports of the ongoing cost of this case for
reporting to Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner;

15. Given that the external expenditure on Ms Aubrey’s case amounted to
over £681,000 can you please explain why Northumbria Police failed to gain
written Authorisation from the PCC for this expenditure?

16. Also, if there is no written authorisation for this expenditure,
please explain whether the Northumbria Police Auditors were informed that
these monies had been paid to external parties without any formal approval
for the expenditure. Were the Accounts for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17
signed off and approved?

17. When completing the Financial Audit for 2017/18, will (or has) the
Head of Finance informed the Auditors that significant monies have been
paid to external legal advisors WITHOUT any formal authorisation being
given?

18. If there is no written Authorisation for spending more than £25,000 on
this Employment Tribunal case, then please explain what actions have been
taken against those Officers and/or Staff who have approved payments to
external parties without authorisation of the PCC in this case.

 

In response we advised:

1.                   The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police was Mrs Sue
Sim and she was responsible for engaging legal advisors for the case.

2.                   The Head of Human Resources was responsible for
instructing external Legal Advisors in the case.

3.                   The Head of Human Resources was responsible for
approving invoices from external Legal Advisors in the case.

4.                   The Chief constable, Mr Steve Ashman instructed
Eversheds as legal advisors at this point in the proceedings.

5.                   The Head of Human Resources and the Director of Legal
Services instructed Eversheds whilst they were appointed as external legal
advisors in the case.

6.                   As per question 5 above.

7.                   A response will be provided to this before 10^th
February – We have been advised that this was The Chief Constable

8.                   Instruction came from the retired officers and staff.

9.                   Initially the Head of Legal Services approved costs
though, final approval was sought from the then Chief Constable.

10.               The Chief Constable.

11.               The Head of Legal Services.

12.               The Head of Legal Services

13.               No information held

14.               No information held

15.               No information held.

16.               Not applicable

17.               Not applicable

18.               Not applicable

 

Your request for Internal review stated:

I am writing to request an internal review of Northumbria Police's
handling of my FOI request 'In the absence of PCC Authorisation, WHO in NP
approved £681,000 of external payments?'.

I made my FOI request on 25th APRIL 2018 and have been in correspondence
ever since to get a complete response. I have complained to the
Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) about your tardy and incomplete
response. I understand from the ICO that you assured them that you would
give a substantive response by 5th February.

You did make a significant response - however, there were many omissions.

I responded on 6th February to point these out to you. I wrote again on
8th February. Your omissions involve failing to disclose the role of Chief
Constable Winton Keenan in the matter of whether he had knowledge of or
authorised the £71,000 which was spent on Ms Aubrey's Cost Application
part of the Employment Tribunal process. Your claim that only Chief
Constable Sim and Ashman made such decisions (- to approve the costs of
the Employment Tribunal without authorisation from the PCC) is not tenable
as BOTH of them had left the Force well before the Cost Hearing.

In response :

 

Your request for internal review does not appear to cover any of the
questions asked and answered in your original submission. You appear now
to be asking a different question on the role of the current Chief
Constable, Winton Keenen in the matter of what he may or may not have had
knowledge of.

 

I must advise that the Freedom of Information act should not be seen as a
gateway to ask individual officers about their role in certain
activities.  The Act allows access to actual recorded data. I believe that
we have supplied the data that is recorded on this matter and where your
request has asked for different information, this must be classed as a
different request rather than a lack of response to a previous request
that asked for different information.

 

Where you have submitted separate requests, these have been assigned
different reference numbers and have been supplied acknowledged
separately. I refer you particularly to response to request 200/18 which
advised that it was The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police at that time
that made the decision that a costs application would be made.

 

In conclusion, it is the decision of this review that the response
supplied to you was late and for this I must apologise, however, the
response provided was entirely appropriate and supplied the data that was
recorded on this subject matter.

 

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of this review then it remains
open to you to refer this matter to the Information Commissioner at the
following address:

The Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

 

 

Yours sincerely

Hayley Young

IMU Manager

NORTHUMBRIA POLICE PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE The information
contained in this message and any attachment(s) is confidential and
intended only for the attention of the named organisation or individual to
whom it is addressed. The message may contain information that is covered
by legal, professional or other privilege. No mistake in transmission is
intended to waive or compromise any such privilege. This message has been
sent over public networks and the sender cannot be held responsible for
its integrity. If you are not the intended recipient be aware that any
disclosure, copying, distribution or action taken in reliance of the
information contained herein is strictly prohibited, and is contrary to
the provisions of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, 1988 and of the
Data Protection Act, 2018. Any views expressed are those of the sender
and, unless specifically stated, do not necessarily represent the view of
Northumbria Police. We cannot accept any liability for any loss or damage
sustained as a result of software viruses. It is your responsibility to
carry out such virus checking as is necessary. If you have received this
message in error, please notify the sender by e-mail at once and delete
the message immediately. For more information about Northumbria Police
please visit our website - http://www.northumbria.police.uk

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