Legal Status of DWP and Atos Healthcare

The request was refused by Department for Work and Pensions.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

With reference to the DWP answer (ref FOI 3448/2012) to my FOIA request submitted via the Whatdotheyknow web site on the 6th September 2012 “Legal Status of the DWP”.

The DWP knows that the only legal entity (legal personality) capable of entering into a contract or agreement (on the assumption that the agreement is to be enforceable in the courts) is the Secretary of State. The DWP also confirmed that it is aware that the department does not have a legal personality. Atos Healthcare is simply a division of Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited and therefore is not a legal entity (legal personality). Therefore neither the DWP nor Atos Healthcare is a ‘person’ recognised in law.

Documents that I have seen issued by the DWP either in relation to benefit claims, via its web site or in response to FOIA requests require the claimant to enter into a contract or agreement with:
- DWP
- Atos Healthcare

Given that neither of these are legal entities, what data does the DWP hold that shows these contracts/agreements are legally enforceable?

The Data Protection Act defines:

A data controller must be a “person” recognised in law, that is to say:
- Individuals;
- organisations; and
- other corporate and unincorporated bodies of persons.

Given that the DWP is not a “person” recognised in law what data does the DWP hold that shows it is allowed to act as a data controller under the data protection act?

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please find attached FOI response to your recent request.

<<Response Slater FOI 3953.pdf>>

Regards

Central FOI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Legal Status of DWP and Atos Healthcare'.

In respect of the previous response received, I know what the Atos Group is having employed Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited (ATOS) as part of my professional life. I am also aware of constitutional and legal status of the Secretary of State, Civil Servants (e.g. Carltona Principle) and lack thereof for departments such as the DWP.

I suggest that rather than directing me to law references the author of the response should read basic contract law. As stated ‘Atos Healthcare’ is a trading name and as such it has no legal personality. The use of trading names is also covered by the Business Names Act 1985 and the Companies Acts 2006.

The law is clear that any contract or agreement can only be executed with the actual legal entity and not the trading name. All official documentation sent by Atos Healthcare must show the address of ATOS and text comparable to “Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited trading at Atos Healthcare”.

The Courts do rule on the effectiveness of contracts and will consider a number of issues such as intent to be bound, correct formation of the contract (e.g. offer, consideration and acceptance) obvious mistakes (e.g. misspellings), ability of the signatory to bind the legal entity to a contract, legal status of the contracting parties etc.

However, given the documented instances I referred to previously attempt to significantly disadvantage one of the parties (e.g. claimants) to said agreements/contracts the courts will almost certainly strike out them out.

Question - Please confirm the DWP understands that no contract/agreement can be made with ‘Atos Healthcare’ as a contracting party as it is not a legal personality and that the previous answer provided is incorrect in terms of law. To remove any wriggle room I am referring to a contract that would list the parties as shown below:

Atos Healthcare and
A.N Other Limited

XYZ Services Contract

The Medical Services Contract is a perfect example of this as it is between the ‘Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited’ (note no mention of DWP or Atos Healthcare).

Previous answer: “Atos does not require applicants to sign any formal contractual document. Instead claimants fill out (and sign) a DWP ‘Limited capability for work questionnaire’.”

I do not need to refer to legislation as it has absolutely no bearing on my FOIA Request. However, I do find the response worrying. The regulations referred to confer powers on the Secretary of State and not the DWP. Whilst it is true that civil servants within the DWP are acting on behalf of the Secretary of State this does not apply to an entity called ‘DWP’ as one does not exist.

Given the previous response included “Atos does not require applicants to sign any formal contractual document”.

Question - Is the DWP stating categorically that the ‘ESA Recording Consent Form’ that claimants must sign if they wish to have their WCA recorded is not a contractual document or an attempt to enter into a legally binding agreement? Please provide data to substantiate this statement.

The DWP should be aware that the consent form does not comply with the requirements imposed by the Business Names Act 1985 and the Companies Acts 2006.

Question – is the DWP aware that the consent form does not comply with legislation relating to the use of trading names?

None of the forms completed by claimants seeking ESA refer to the secretary of state. They include text such as,

“I agree that
- the Department for Work and Pensions
- any healthcare professional advising the department
- any organisation with which the Department has a contract for the provision of medical services...”

This text is a clear attempt to gain legal authority from the claimant (i.e. enter into an agreement/contract). I accept that the legislation allows the Secretary of State to enter into agreements/contract but ‘the Department for Work and Pensions’ is not a legal entity and cannot enter into contracts/agreements.

Given the accepted (this and previous FOIA Requests) legal position of the DWP:
- the claimant cannot grant approval to an entity that has no legal personality.
- the ‘Department’ does not have a contract for the provision of medical services as the contract is with the Secretary of State (the Secretary of State and the DWP are not legally synonymous)

All of the above brings me to my original request that has yet to be answered.

Question - Given that the DWP and Atos Healthcare are not legal entities, what data does the DWP hold that shows contracts/agreements entered into using these names specifically are legally enforceable?

The data provided in the response to the above question isn’t pertinent to my request. I would suggest that assuming people asking for data are ignorant of the law is unhelpful to all concerned. The request was unambiguous in referring to ‘Department for Work and Pensions’ and not the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I believe that the law is such that the DWP has no legal personality and cannot enter into legally binding agreements/contracts. However, it appears that the civil servants working within the DWP and contractors (e.g. ATOS) believe otherwise as numerous forms and documents that are clearly intended to create an agreement/contract with claimants refer to the DWP rather than the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Atos Healthcare rather than ATOS (see above for an example).

Therefore please answer my request appropriately under the FOIA. If no such data exist then the correct response is to say so as the FOIA requires the confirmation that data is held or not. The previous response is not compliant with the FOIA.

Pre-empting the usual response of “the FOIA is not a vehicle to enter into debate regarding opinions’ as a tactic to avoid requests that are not ‘liked’ please be clear that my application is patently a request for data held by the DWP. The correct response under the FOIA is to confirm that data is either held or not (unless specific exemptions apply).

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

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Slater

Please find attached responses to your recent FOI request 132111-e2c99661.
Please note that an element of your Internal Review number VTR 732 was
considered to be a new request so has been treated as new request number
FOI 4532. Both responses are attached below.

<<Response IR 732.pdf>> <<Response FOI 4532.pdf>>

Regards

DWP Central FOI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Legal Status of DWP and Atos Healthcare'.

Thank you for the response (VTR 4532/12, dated 26th November 2012). In order to head-off the usual response employed by the DWP when things get difficult that the FOIA is not about debating opinions, I wish to make it clear that I am seeking advice and assistance from the DWP (as required under the FOIA). I need to clarify the data provided as it is unclear what it actually means and therefore if I have received the data requested.

Question – is the DWP aware that the consent form does not comply
with legislation relating to the use of trading names?

The DWP has ignored this is in its latest response. Please provide the requested data. The DWP either holds data that it is aware of this breach of English Law or it does not.

My FOIA request specifically included contracts AND legally binding agreements. The two are not synonymous as legal agreements often lack the essential elements of a contract such as consideration. I have dealt with contracts and agreements separately below and suggest that the DWP treat them separately in its response.

The data provided by the DWP:

“No consideration is exchanged. Nor is there any offer or acceptance. It is not a legally binding contract”

It is worth mentioning that under English law a contract does not require Offer, Consideration and Acceptance to all be present. The data provided in this statement appears to be totally incorrect therefore I require clarification.

Question - Is the DWP stating categorically that, despite the clear facts below, the consent form is not an attempt to enter into a legally binding contract with the claimant (and third party if present) and that signed consent forms hold absolutely no contractual value or legal recourse for any of the parties involved. Please confirm if this is or is not the case.

Offer
This could be taken to be the service to record the WCA assessment. The DWP makes it perfectly clear that the service will not be provided unless the claimant signs the consent form. The consent form lists the terms that the DWP wishes the claimant to be bound by. The clue here is the first sentence of the consent form:
“In order for an audio recording of your Medical Assessment to be carried out we need your signed consent and agreement to the below conditions;”

Consideration
Could reasonably be considered as providing the claimant the recording service and a CD of said recording. This is something of value in the eyes of the law (see Thomas v Thomas (1842) 2 QB 851) and therefore satisfies this requirement.

Acceptance
By signing the consent form and proceeding with the recording the claimant provides acceptance in writing and execution.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“This is not an agreement by which the respective parties express an intention to create a legal relationship”

Question - Is the DWP categorically stating that, despite the clear facts below, the WCA consent form is not intended to be legally enforceable such that a court will deem it that the parties to the agreement did not intend the conditions specified within to be enforceable under law? Please confirm if this is or is not the case.

Question - Is the DWP stating categorically the consent form is not an attempt to enter into a legally binding AGREEMENT with the claimant (and third party if present) and that signed consent forms hold absolutely no legal value other than to solely provide ‘informed consent’ for the recording of the WCA to take place (as one would with a medical procedure) and that no other conditions are attached to said consent? Please confirm if this is or is not the case.

A legally binding agreement may be described as:
“A meeting of minds with the understanding and acceptance of reciprocal legal rights and duties as to particular actions or obligations, which the parties intend to exchange; a mutual assent to do or refrain from doing something”. In effect parties to a legally binding agreement have agreed to be bound by law to do or not do those ‘things’ specified in the agreement.

The consent form states:
“In order for an audio recording of your Medical Assessment to be carried out we need your signed consent and agreement to the below conditions;

The recording will be made during the time you spend with the Atos Healthcare Professional in the room where the assessment takes place. A dual CD audio interview recorder will be used to make the recording.

The first CD will be made available for you at the end of the assessment. The second CD will be stored by Atos Healthcare in secure cabinets within our Customer Relations Team based in Leeds. The data will be held for 14 months from the date of assessment, after which it will be destroyed.

The recording is not required by the DWP and will not be used by the Department in the benefit decision making process. However DWP may request a copy of the CD at any time.

Should a further copy of the CD be required by you, this request should be made to DWP.
The copy of the recording you have is to be used solely in relation to your claim for benefit and is not to be published or reproduced.

Please sign below to show that you have consented, or not consented, to your assessment being recorded. If you consent to your assessment being recorded, then it will be recorded and the data held in the way described above. If you do not consent then your assessment will not be recorded. If you are accompanied at your assessment by a third party (e.g. carer/interpreter/family member) they are also required to consent for the recording to take place.”

Employing the ‘reasonable person test’ and the usual meaning of the language used it is clear that the intent of the consent form is to create a legally enforceable agreement that:
- Allows storage of the claimant’s data in secure cabinets for 14 months and then be destroyed (Data Protection Rights).
- Allows the DWP to access a copy of the recording despite the fact that it has no rights to it under the Data Protection Act.
- Restricts the claimant’s statutory rights by preventing publication or reproduction.
-------------------------------------------------

“The consent form can be signed by any party whether or not they have legal personality. “

Given that legal consent (informed consent) is being sought via the consent form please provide me with data that confirms that that legal consent can be obtained from parties that do not have a legal personality (in effect the DWP is stating that legal consent can be obtained from a dog)? If the DWP has no such data then this part of the response is totally inappropriate as it represents opinion rather than data.


Thank your response to my IRR (Ref: I/R 732/12, dated 26th November 2012)

I must confess to being confused by the decision to my IRR as the DWP has not supplied any data. Responses have simply contained unsubstantiated opinion.

My original FOIA Request was:
“Documents that I have seen issued by the DWP either in relation to benefit claims, via its web site or in response to FOIA requests require the claimant to enter into a contract or agreement with:
- DWP
- Atos Healthcare

Given that neither of these are legal entities, what data does the DWP hold that shows these contracts/agreements are legally enforceable?”

The first DWP response did not provide any data whatsoever that demonstrated that contracts/agreements between claimants and DWP and claimants and Atos Healthcare are legally enforceable.

The response ‘waffled’ about the Secretary of State signing contracts and that the courts might rule on enforceability of contracts. It then went on to discuss contracts between Atos and the DWP which has absolutely no bearing on my request. Finally it stated “Atos does not require applicants to sign any formal contractual document”.

None of this is actual data and is clearly nothing more than simple opinion and therefore cannot be considered to satisfy my FOIA request. I issued an IRR which contained the following questions

“Question - Please confirm the DWP understands that no contract/agreement can be made with ‘Atos Healthcare’ as a contracting party as it is not a legal personality and that the previous answer provided is incorrect in terms of law...”

“Question - Is the DWP stating categorically that the ‘ESA Recording Consent Form’ that claimants must sign if they wish to have their WCA recorded is not a contractual document or an attempt to enter into a legally binding agreement? Please provide data to substantiate this statement.”

“Question – is the DWP aware that the consent form does not comply with legislation relating to the use of trading names?”

“My Original Question - Given that the DWP and Atos Healthcare are not legal entities, what data does the DWP hold that shows contracts/agreements entered into using these names specifically are legally enforceable?”

Therefore the IRR response of “I have reviewed the information provided in the DWP reply of 24th October and can confirm that the information provided to you was correct. I therefore uphold the original reply sent to you by DWP. “ must be in error under the FOIA and I respectfully suggest that the DWP need to revisit this decision before I pass the matter into the ICO.

The IRR then went on state:
“I provide further clarification relating to the questions raised in your request below. “

“Response:
The law recognises substance over form in contractual relationships. Contracts between the Department for Work and Pensions and Atos Heathcare are therefore, in content, contracts between the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Atos Origin IT Services Limited. “

Yet again the author of the IRR has totally missed the point (either intentionally or accidentally) regarding the ability of the DWP or Atos Healthcare to enter into contracts. The application of contract law that the IRR author refers to relates to obvious simple administrative errors where it is clear that there are two clear legal entities that intend to enter into a contract and have the legal knowledge to understand what is happening. This includes circumstances where names contain typographical errors. However, the Courts are very unhappy where large organisations (such as the DWP and Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited), that are considered to know better, attempt to mislead smaller legal entities, such as members of the public, into believing that they have entered into a contract or agreement with something that is not a legal entity. This is especially true when the contract or agreement is clearly and attempt to mislead and/or disadvantage the member of the public (as is certainly the case with the WCA recording consent form).

To clarify my request please provide me with the data that the DWP holds that shows if the DWP understands that no contract/agreement can be made with ‘Atos Healthcare’ as a contracting party (as it is purely a trading name) as it is not a legal personality. This means that any contract, agreement, consent to undertake regulated activities (such as under the data protection act) or act on behalf of a legal entity between a claimant and ‘Atos Healthcare’ is legally meaningless. The answer to this request is very simple. If the DWP holds the data then it needs to supply it and if it does not then simple state that no data is held.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
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Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

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J Newman left an annotation ()

If I walk away from a WCA with my copy CD, what is to stop Atos/DWP subsequently claiming it is forgery and inadmissible?

John Slater left an annotation ()

Especially when they have conveniently lost the copy they kept! I’m not sure that the recorders that the DWP have purchased are PACE compliant so that could be an issue if the matter ever got to court (more likely to be in the claimants favour, I would imagine). Of course at a Tribunal they have far more discretion on evidence.

It would be interesting to take a prepared letter with you that states you withdraw your consent for them to hold or process your data (i.e. the recording of your WCA) and demand that they hand over the second recording (of course after you make sure that you have the other copy safe in your possession. If they refuse to hand it over they are in breach of the DPA.

B. Adams left an annotation ()

It makes you wonder who we are actually dealing with.. is it Atos Origin Medical Services or Atos Healthcare? .. As these are grouped together as data controllers
within the ICO register, under Atos Origin IT Services UK Ltd. they are both able to access and decide how to use our information. (I don't think any legislation has been passed for them to do this) But also in the same grouping is BR Business Systems.. As it would make no sense for British Rail to use our information, this is possible as far as the ICO register and the DWP reasoning is concerned, as it comes under the same company (Atos IT).. Similarly Schlumberger Sema, Sema UK Ltd, Shere, Atos Origin come under the same company name. It's a shambles...

A C Smithson left an annotation ()

J Newman

The CD I was given had some kind of security on it to prevent it from being copied but the security appears to be Windows-based as I had no problems making a backup copy under Linux.

The recording didn't make any difference to the quality of the assessment report. The quality of the report was worse than when I had an unrecorded assessment. I now have to appeal but at least I have the recording as evidence.

A C Smithson left an annotation ()

One of the DWP's responses to Mr Slater claims that the consent form is not a contract but in that consent form Atos is asking the claimant to agree that the recording will only be used for the purpose of the benefit claim. If the claimant does not agree to the condition, then they get told by Atos that the assessment cannot go ahead. If that's not trying to enter a contract with the claimant, then what is it supposed to be?

John Slater left an annotation ()

The DWP response claiming that the consent form is not a contract demonstrates a total ignorance of basic contract law. It claimed that as there is no consideration there can be no contract. Clearly the CD of the recording and the service to make the recording have value and therefore constitute consideration. There is also a clear intent to be legally bound to the terms specified in the form. The offer is simply if you want your WCA recording sign this! Even if there was some wriggle room regarding it being a contract then it would most definitely be considered an attempt to create a legally binding agreement (they are different to contracts).

There is another point to note in all this. If a contract or agreement is breached then the remedy is for the person who suffers a loss. In the case of the WCA recording the only two parties involved are the claimant and the HCP. I believe that neither Atos nor the DWP would have grounds to issue proceedings as they have suffered no loss (also the fact the DWP is not a legal entity would be fun). Therefore, the HCP would need to issue proceedings. Then we get into all sorts of fun regarding disclosure of data about the HCP and what loss they have actually suffered.

The more you look at this the more obvious that this is the DWP trying to scare and bully people!

J Newman left an annotation ()

Thank you AC & very interesting JS. I wonder what the GMC's view would be of a member suing a patient - I will ask it.

John Slater left an annotation ()

It would be interesting if someone did try to sue someone who published a covert recording of their ESA WCA and subsequent medical report online. Apart from needing to prove that a breach of contract had occured (which means they would have to prove one existed - which I don't think they can)the HCP would have to prove that they suffered a loss of some kind. Assuming the recording hadn't been tampered with then I think they would have a hard time convincing anyone that they suffered a loss by someone simply publishing what the so-called medical professional said during an examination and subsequently wrote in their report (professional opinion), especially if they were very different (which is usually the case).

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please find attached response to your recent FOI Internal Review request.

<<response Slater IR 808.pdf>>

Regards

DWP Central FOI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Legal Status of DWP and Atos Healthcare'.

Thank you for your reply to my IRR.

DWP Answer to Q1.
Whilst it may be interesting to know that the DWP doesn’t agree with what it referred to as my assertion. This opinion is irrelevant in relation to the FOIA. As the DWP has failed to state whether it holds the requested data or not I will provide clarification to aid in a correct decision being made under the FOIA.

The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 states:
“Registered name to appear in communications
6.—(1) Every company shall disclose its registered name on—
(a) its business letters, notices and other official publications;
(b) its bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements and order forms;
(c) cheques purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the company;
(d) orders for money, goods or services purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the
company;
(e) its bills of parcels, invoices and other demands for payment, receipts and letters of credit;
(f) its applications for licences to carry on a trade or activity; and
(g) all other forms of its business correspondence and documentation.

(2) Every company shall disclose its registered name on its websites.

Further particulars to appear in business letters, order forms and websites
7.—(1) Every company shall disclose the particulars set out in paragraph (2) on—
(a) its business letters;
(b) its order forms; and
(c) its websites.
(2) The particulars are—
(a) the part of the United Kingdom in which the company is registered;
(b) the company’s registered number;
(c) the address of the company’s registered office;”

It is interesting to note that other correspondence (letter sent with the ESA questionnaire and ‘invitation’ to attend a medical examination) sent out by Atos Healthcare contains the correct registered company details. The Atos Healthcare website also states that Atos Healthcare is a trading name of Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited. The WCA audio recording consent form is branded as Atos Healthcare and clearly falls within “all other forms of its business correspondence and documentation” whether that be on behalf of the DWP or not. The consent form does not include the required registration particulars and is therefore in breach of the law. The regulations do not include any mention of ‘substance over form’ so please don’t waste more of my time trotting this poor excuse out.

Question - Therefore, given the clarification provided above “Is DWP aware that the consent form does not comply with the legislation relating to the use of trading names?”. A simple yes or no will suffice.

Question 2 – DWP Answer
Thank you for confirming that the DWP does not consider that the ESA WCA Audio Consent Form constitutes any form of legally enforceable contract documentation. Thereby, it must be the case that any claimant signing said form will not be entering into any kind of legally enforceable contract. The DWP also confirmed that the sole purpose of the form is to obtain consent under Data Protection legislation.

Questions 3 & 4 – DWP Answer
Thank you for confirming that the DWP believes:
“The consent form is a legally binding agreement under the law relating to data protection between
Atos Healthcare acting on behalf of DWP and the claimant and any third party who has gone along with the claimant to the place where the assessment is and has signed the form.”

Setting aside the fact that Atos Healthcare (as a trading name) cannot enter into a legal agreement and has no legal standing to enter into an agreement on behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (please don’t quote ‘substance over form’ as it simple isn’t the case with trading names) the consent form cannot override the law as defined by the Data Protection Act.

Question 5 – DWP Answer
Once again the DWP has simply responded with opinion rather than data. The ‘substance over form’ argument relates to obvious errors such as misspelling or names and parties that have the legal knowledge to understand contract law. The courts will consider the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited as both having sufficient legal knowledge to get it right. Given that the consent form is a blatant attempt to place claimants at a disadvantage the Courts will almost certainly strike it out.

The consent form contains the following statements:
(1) The recording is not required by the DWP and will not be used by the Department in the benefit decision making process. However DWP may request a copy of the CD at any time.
(2) The copy of the recording you have is to be used solely in relation to your claim for benefit and is not to be published or reproduced.
(3) A dual CD audio interview recorder will be used to make the recording.

Statement 1 - is an attempt to grant the DWP access to data that it is not entitled to under the Data Protection Act without informed consent of the data owner (the claimant). Whilst this is misleading and deceitful it does fall within answer provided. I would argue that the DWP falls foul of the Data Protection Principles in that it states that the recording will not be used by the department in the benefit decision making process but then states that it may request a copy at any time.

In light of the DWP obstructive approach in responding to this and other FOIA request I have now sent a DPA related complaint to the ICO to seek resolution as to the legality of the Audio Consent Form and the DWP approach to handling recording of WCA.

Statement 2 – is an attempt to curtail statutory rights granted under the Data Protection Act. The ICO is absolutely clear in its published guidance that the claimant is allowed to reproduce and publish this data as it belongs to them. Therefore it is clear that the consent form goes beyond addressing normal data protection recording consent issues.

Statement 3 – this has nothing to do with the Data Protection Act and is simply an attempt to force the claimant to agree to use a dual CD recorder.

The obvious data to provide in response to my FOIA request would be a copy of a contract that is currently in force between the ‘DWP’ (i.e. where the contracting party is written as the DWP) and another. Does the DWP possess any data or can it direct me to any data that shows a legally effective contract where one of the contracting parties is “the DWP” rather than the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions? The correct response is very simply and does not require any more word games by the DWP. The answer must be either “no” or “yes” along with the requested data.

I am sure I can look forward to yet another inappropriate response to my IRR and no doubt will have to send yet another complaint to the ICO.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

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expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
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S. Martin left an annotation ()

Always remember that the DWP is actually a registered company and not a public body, this is an illusion, they are registered as Jobcentreplus.

Since a number of us have found this the Government have spirited them away for the last couple of years and tried to hide them. Much the same applies to every local or national "public body", they aren't what they seem. This is the sole reason they rely on contracts, its control.

John Slater left an annotation ()

With the greatest respect I have come across people stating this before but they haven’t been able to provide any proof. Companies House has no company called “Jobcentreplus” registered and those with “DWP” included as part of its name are clearly nothing to do with the Department for Work and Pensions. Given that governments are the most inept organisations ever created I find it hard to believe that this is the case and has been kept quiet. I would love to have to have to admit I am wrong as it would be a great question to ask the DWP (it has already denied in an FOIA request that this is the case) so if you have proof I would be delighted to see it.

B. Adams left an annotation ()

The scheming rascals John.. so who actually owns the recordings? Can they prevent reproduction, is it their copyright?.. Sensitive information is actually our property, it belongs to us, even though the DWP gives it away like water, without any safeguards and then daring to rely on the Data Protection Act to use a form. Maybe the DWP, as required under the same DPA should state on the form who is the Data Controller for this, who stores their copy and has use of it and for what purpose, what do they need it for, what is the necessity? Maybe it's us that should be imposing conditions on them as they have provided no reasonable grounds for having a copy.

John Slater left an annotation ()

I believe that under the DPA the data belongs to the claimant (assuming that it doesn’t contain significant data about other people on it, such as the HCP or people accompanying the claimant).

There is clearly as issue about who is the data controller in respect of the recording as “However DWP may request a copy of the CD at any time” is stated as part of the consent form. As a minimum it is unclear about which organisation is actually the data controller. If you look at the ICO Data Protection Register you will also see that audio recordings are not registered as data classes by either the DWP or Atos which may mean they are processing the data illegally.

I have sent a complaint to the ICO under the DPA which outlines a long list of things that appear to be breaches of the DPA.

I do wonder what would happen if a claimant took a signed dated and timed letter with them withdrawing the consent they granted when signing the Atos Audio Recording Consent Form and handed it over when they had the recording safely in their possession. In theory the HCP would be acting illegally if they did anything with the copy of the CD.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

John:

Since many of us started looking at this documentation the Government has removed a lot of it from Companies House, but Dunn and Bradstreet still have the records of many.

Just some other registered companies I have found personally:

House of Lords (highest court in the land)
Ministry of Justice - trading as Magistrates Courts
Every Police force
Every Police authority
Every Local Authority/council
DWP trading as Jobcentreplus
Department of Education
Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Conservative Party (17 different companies)
Labour Party (trading as Alastair Darling as he is a diplomat with diplomatic status)
House of Parliament
Even the UK is a registered company which changes very regularly.

These are just a few.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Thanks for this open 'debate' - very interesting & helpful. In a far more general context, it does make you wonder what they are playing around at - they really do make themselves look like a bunch of hapless amateurs.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

Some proof for you John:

http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//compd...

Here is the United Kingdom in 2009.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

Look at the time 3.04 and 3.40 and 9.06.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

If you look at the first link it comes back to 14 hanover street, London and this is significant as many Government departments are/were registered there. Why? because its a Government department.

Many more are registered at St John Street and again this is a give away as anything beginning Ministry was/is still registered there. At this address we have Dept for Education
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship

If we move on we can see their attempts to cover this information up.

Ministry of Justice is registered at a farm in Rudyard, Leek, Staffs.

UK LTD which is the private company our country the United Kingdom is registered as is a private residential address up until April 2012, and changes to another private address from April 2012.

Interesting, they are all private limited companies, have directors/company secretary, yet none have previous names registered. Uven more surprising when we know for a fact the country the United Kingdom was previously registered as United Kingdom PLC and changed to United Kingdom Corporation Limited in 2009. So we have two previous names which are undeclared, but in the video link I posted it shows their registrations in a video.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

Sorry John, the video link for the times posted didn't embed, so here it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0IM7Hobd_k

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

Please find attached FOI Internal Review response to your recent request.

<<Response IR 893.pdf>>

Regards

DWP Central FOI Team

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Dear DWP LS FOI,

I will now close this request on WDTK with status refused. The response provided by the DWP is perfectly clear. Of course the fact the DWP has taken this stance means that should the position of Atos Healthcare be clarified by law or the appropriate body in relation to the Companies (Trading Disclosure) Regulations 2008 it would be reasonable for people to ask what it happily colluded with Atos Healthcare to breach the regulations. I’m sure the Minister would be delighted to do this.

I note the implied threat in relation to vexatious or repeated requests if the DWP wishes to go down this route I would be happy for it to do so. I would, of course, exercise my right to complain to the ICO and ask my MP to intervene. I would explain that the reason why the number of requests and IRR were submitted in relation to the subject in question is that the DWP fails to comply with its obligations under the FOIA unless pursued vigorously by those seeking the information. The DWP would have to defend its own position to the ICO and considering the high level of complaints that the ICO is having to deal with and the fact that it is currently monitoring the performance of the DWP I suggest this represents a considerable challenge. I remind the DWP that I have considerable evidence to support my position and this includes numerous instances where information that was available at the time of the original request was only released after similar numbers of IRR were submitted to the DWP.

The DWP is also aware that I have made a complaint to the ICO in relation to the WCA audio consent form as I believe that the DWP is in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Please don’t try to bully or scare me it doesn’t work and it reflects very badly on the DWP.

Yours sincerely,

John Slater

J Newman left an annotation ()

I can only fully support taking this stance against DWP's contempt for FoI legislation and belief that it is above the law. I have not had a solitary case where ICO intervention has not had a positive effect, which of course would not be necessary if DWP took the right approach in the first place. It cannot even calulate 20 working days correctly.

Gerald Jones left an annotation ()

Thanks John,
Companies House is currently investigating the audio recording consent form. If they confirm that it does breach the regulations I shall enjoy telling the DWP and seeking an explanation for their total lack of action.

The potential penalty for a breach is tiny but I suspect that they would have to redesign the form and that would be a victory and force them to look at all the other elements that are unlawful as I will remind them!

S. Martin left an annotation ()

John:

One point possibly worthy of mention is that recording devices using digital media are not admissable in court, only analogue systems such as VHS tapes are. The reason for this is that a digital recording does not have a master copy directly recorded which can be stored, it is only stored on microchips, and this does not constitute an original copy.

Digital media cannot be secured and not having an original hard or real copy means it can be manipulated by anyone with access to the system lawfully and unlawfully (hackers for example) If recordings are being taken on anything other than a VHS or Super VHS, or VHS + then they are unlawful and illegal, even with a twin CD recorder.

Are the recording systems compliant with PACE? no is the simple answer as all PACE compliant recordings are done on tape and not electronically.

Hope its of some use to you.

John Slater left an annotation ()

Hi,
Thanks for that. However, Neal claim that their 9221P PORTABLE CD AUDIO INTERVIEW RECORDER is PACE Act Compliant.

As far as benefit cases go, tribunals have far more discretion as to what evidence it will accept. Generally a transcript of an audio recording (digital or analogue) can be accepted by a tribunal.

S. Martin left an annotation ()

They cannot possibly be PACE compliant as no electronic means of recording is because there is no actual physical original recording in a hard format. Hence the reason any evidencial recordings of video or audio or video with audio are not allowed in a court of law as evidence.

As a tribunal must follow the principles of law they cannot be considered valid as evidence.

Perhaps a little investigation is warranted.

John Slater left an annotation ()

Take a look and see for yourself.

http://www.neal.co.uk/products/9221P.html

Perhaps you need to take it up with Neal then as they seem certain that it is PACE compliant and as the supplier to the Police one can reasonably assume they know what they are talking about.

As far as evidence is concerned Tribunals and the Small Claims Track of the County Court have considerable discretion as to what they accept as evidence (I speak having had direct experience). As I mentioned before they can and do accept transcripts from audio recordings made overtly and covertly. Take a look at Dogherty v Chairman and Governors of Amwell View School [2006] All ER (D) 112 (Sep).

These are not Criminal Courts and therefore PACE does not apply.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Legal Status of DWP and Atos Healthcare'.

Companies House, who enforce the regulations in question, has confirmed to me in writing that the “Audio Recording of Medical Assessments Consent Form Version 1c 19/08/2011” that was the subject of earlier correspondence breaches of the Companies (Trading Disclosure) Regulations 2008 (Regulations) and Atos has been forced to amend said consent form in order to comply with the regulations.

In light of the intervention by Companies House is the DWP now aware that the audio consent form referenced above breaches the Regulations?

Whilst it is not a requirement of the FOIA I think it would be appropriate for the DWP to offer an apology for the way it dealt with my FOIA request regarding the failure to comply with the Regulations. Rather than the utter rubbish (I’m sorry but this is the only appropriate description) produced (IR/893/12 on 29 Jan 2013) by someone who clearly has no legal training whatsoever and was simply trying to present twaddle as an answer to a perfectly reasonable FOIA request the DWP could have replied that it didn’t hold the information I had requested. The response was clearly a dishonest attempt to belittle the request and demonstrates contempt for the law.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

DWP LS FOI, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater,

Please find attached response to your recent Internal Review request.

<<Internal Review 409.pdf>>

Regards

DWP Central FOI Team

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