Merseyside Army Cadet Force - Mersey Warrior Reconnoitre

The request was partially successful.

Merseyside Army Cadet Force Mersey Warrior Reconnoitre

Dear Ministry of Defence,

This is a request for records, made under the Freedom of Information Act.

In June 2014, four senior officers of the Merseyside Army Cadet Force (MACF) travelled to South Africa for ten days. The officers are believed to be:
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Goodwin, Commanding Officer
Major Tony Kirkpatrick, Cadet Executive Officer
Major Claire Edgerton, Officer Commanding 3 Company
Major Ben Kavanagh, Officer Commanding 2 Company
Their purpose was to reconnoitre for the forth-coming ‘Exercise Mersey Warrior’.

In the dialogue of https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m..., questions are raised but are unanswered. The Army Secretariat file number FOI 2014/01824 refers. In the responding letter, dated 17th June 2014, from the Army Secretariat, it is stated,
” ...Exercise Mersey Warrior is still in the planning stages and no costs have been incurred.”
Unless the reconnoitring party were chancing last minute bookings, it appears that the Army Secretariat either is mistaken, has been misled or seeks to mislead.

The MACF have instructed their cadet units to raise funds for the exercise. That could indicate that at present there are insufficient funds with which to finance the exercise. If that is the case the costs for the reconnoitre would be drawn from other funds.

In view of the recent close scrutiny of MACF finances following the Freedom of Information Act request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...
it could be considered negligent if a stringent control of MACF finances had not been instituted.

It is formally requested that the Ministry of Defence provide copies of the documents and records:
1. Authorising the expenditure for the reconnoitre. (Presumably the overseeing body, the Northwest Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Association, was consulted.)
2. Authorising four senior MACF officers representing the Army Cadet Force to travel to South Africa and justifying the requirement for four officers to travel.
3. Showing the actual expenditure for the trip, itemising, incidental expenses and pay for the officers.
4. Showing the names of the accounts together with their designated purpose, from which the funds for the reconnoitre were drawn.
5. Laying out the monies so far raised for Exercise Mersey Warrior.
The documents should be available, at minimal cost, from the MACF HQ at Altcar and the NWRFCA in Liverpool.

This matter is very much in the public interest. The public wish to know that their taxes are well spent and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers need to know that their personal sacrifices, in that some have drawn reduced or no pay, are used to benefit the organisation and young people, rather than a few individuals. [potentially defamatory material removed]

Yours faithfully,

Nick Wilkinson

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

A small amount of material explaining the justification/background to the request has been removed on the grounds that it was potentially defamatory.

When we remove material as potentially defamatory we do not form any opinion as to its truth or otherwise, but we need to protect the website from legal risk.

Ganesh - WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer

9th September 2014
Dear Ministry of Defence,

FoIA Request - Merseyside Army Cadet Force – Mersey Warrior Reconnoitre

Twenty one working days have elapsed with no response whatever from your office. Your response to this Freedom of Information Act request is now overdue and the Ministry of Defence is in breach of the Act of Parliament.

Whilst it is widely recognised that the Merseyside Army Cadet Force may be less than co-operative in these matters, that is no longer an acceptable excuse. In light of the many previous requests for information through WhatDoTheyKnow, their deficient performance should be anticipated. In view of this aggravating factor, it is suggested that this request for information be re-directed via your seniors to those in higher office responsible for administration of both the Northwest Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Association and the Army Cadet Force. In this way a response may be procured.

Please, immediately forward the records already to hand, account for the absence or delay of the remainder and disclose the action taken by your office to extract the remaining records.

Yours faithfully,

Nick Wilkinson

CIO-FOI (MULTIUSER),

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

 

Further to our previous correspondence, please see attached in response to
your request for information of 7 August.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Army Secretariat

Army HQ| IDL 24| Blenheim Building| Floor 2| Marlborough Lines| ANDOVER,
Hampshire| SP11 8HJ

ARMY-SEC-&GROUP (MULTIUSER)

 

16SEP14 Mersey Warrior FoIA Request

Dear Unnamed of the Army Secretariat,

Thank you for your letter 22/3/FOI2014/04181 dated 9th September 2014.

You state,
‘I would like to assure you that Exercise Mersey Warrior is not being funded at taxpayers’ expense, but through personal contribution and fundraising. The information you have requested about the funding of the reconnoitre and the monies raised through fundraising for Exercise Mersey Warrior are not held by the Ministry of Defence’.
The reasoning is vacuous. The Merseyside Army Cadet Force (MACF) is a government funded organisation answerable to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The moment a coin hits the bottom of a collecting bucket it is accountable. The money belongs to the MACF. If the accounts are unknown to the MoD then instruct the MACF to reveal them. If the MACF do not have accounts then they are neglecting their duty by failing to manage the money. If they have accounts then they appear to be failing to disclose them.

The additional documents forwarded in (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2... are interesting but, in the main, appear not to be those requested.

To summarise the documents provided,
pages 1-2, Request for Diplomatic Clearance and Transit
page 3, a blank form referring to ‘proof of approval’
pages 5-6, Application for Cadet Training Overseas
pages 7-8, Letter from the Defence Adviser’s Office, British High Commission (Pretoria)
pages 9-10, Security Brief - South Africa
pages 11-12, Due Diligence (an advice sheet)
pages 13-16, Risk Register (a check list)
pages 17-20, emails of little relevance
page 21, invoice from Africa Wild Trails Ltd (interestingly for six people)
pages 23-25, Confirmation of Online Booking, dated 28th April 2014
pages 26-27, South African Airways, terms and conditions
pages28-31, itinerary for 2015
page 32, email dated 17th October 2013, from Capita suggesting a meeting at RFCA
pages 33-39, MACF Warning Order dated 12 April 2014
page 40, Africa Wild Trails Ltd, 2015 programme
pages 41-42, Africa Wild Trails Ltd, Tour Contract and Payment Plan
page 43, Africa Wild Trails Ltd, 2014 itinerary

The significant part of the Freedom of Information Act request reads as follows.
It is formally requested that the Ministry of Defence provide
copies of the documents and records:
1. Authorising the expenditure for the reconnoitre. (Presumably the
overseeing body, the Northwest Reserve Forces & Cadets’
Association, was consulted.)
2. Authorising four senior MACF officers representing the Army
Cadet Force to travel to South Africa and justifying the
requirement for four officers to travel.
3. Showing the actual expenditure for the trip, itemising,
incidental expenses and pay for the officers.
4. Showing the names of the accounts together with their designated
purpose, from which the funds for the reconnoitre were drawn.
5. Laying out the monies so far raised for Exercise Mersey Warrior.
The documents should be available, at minimal cost, from the MACF
HQ at Altcar and the NWRFCA in Liverpool.

1. The documents authorising expenditure are not present.
2. The documents authorising four senior MACF officers representing the Army Cadet Force to travel to South Africa and justifying the requirement for four officers to travel are not present.
3. Is partially answered. Page 21 shows the Africa Wild Trails Ltd invoice for £1,800 for the reconnoitre. Page 25 shows the South African Airways invoice for £3,165.40. Absent are the wages for the officers together with their incidental expenses. Also, the travel between Merseyside and Heathrow was not without cost.
4. Not present are records showing the names of the accounts together with their designated purpose, from which the funds for the reconnoitre were drawn.
5. Not present are the records laying out the monies so far raised for Exercise Mersey Warrior.

Out of the 43 pages of documents furnished by the Army Secretariat, pages 21 and 25 reveal two sums that partially answer item 3. The remaining material is superfluous.

As stated in the original request ‘The documents should be available, at minimal cost, from the MACF HQ at Altcar and the NWRFCA in Liverpool’. The documents, accounts and records, should exist. The question of the officers’ pay is particularly easy to answer by reference to the Westminster pay module. Why has this information not been produced? A useful test for your office may be to examine the pay records of the officers who are believed to have travelled. It may assist in the calculations to be aware that intelligence has been received saying that an MACF driver and vehicle were deployed on the trips between Merseyside and Heathrow.

As stated in the opening of this letter, the MACF are under a clear duty to maintain records of their fund raising. To not do so would be grossly negligent. Money was raised prior to the submission of this FoIA request. Please, release the records showing the monies.

In regard to items 1 and 2, if the documents do not exist it would be indicative of a most lax and ineffectual overseeing of the MACF. It is understood that it is not possible to alter this FoIA request, however, it may assist you in your task to be aware of the motive in asking for the documents. It is desired to establish that due process was observed in initiating Exercise Mersey Warrior and also to identify either the individual or committee responsible for authorising the exercise. It will be appreciated if in the case of the Army Secretariat being unable to produce those documents, that the office of the authorising officer is identified together with the date of authorisation. The sensitivity of the Army Secretariat in revealing the identity of incumbents is noted.

In respect of the cost of providing this information, the opportunity is taken to point out that the basic cost to provide it is very low. The additional cost incurred in correcting earlier failure must be laid squarely at the door of the Army Secretariat and MACF. This assertion may become significant in the future when the costs of future FoIA requests are taken into consideration.

Yours faithfully,
Nick Wilkinson

Andy Smith left an annotation ()

I am confused.

1) Why have MACF paid the touring company Africa Wild Trails Ltd, surly if they have hired a company who does this all year long there isn't any need to reconnoitre?

2)So if they do have the need to reconnoitre this area, why did four of them have to go?, surly one or two would have been enough.

3) Also ... this trip cost 5K, has this been raised so far? does this balance show on their accounts? which account? "SA"? Have MACF released any figures of money raised for "SA"?

4) I heard that this trip has been scaled back from 50 cadets and a three week trip to 20 cadets and a two week trip can anyone confirm this?

I am very eager to know if these 4 people where infact paid, if this is true then does this mean that this trip is MOD funded?

CIO-FOI-IR (MULTIUSER),

Dear Mr Wilkinson,

 

Acknowledgement of a Request for an Internal Review

 

We acknowledge your request via the What Do They Know website in which you
requested an internal review of your request for information.

 

The Department's target for completing internal reviews is 20 working days
and we therefore aim to complete the review and respond to you by
14/10/2014. While we are working hard to achieve this, in the interests of
providing you with a realistic indication of when you should expect a
response, we should advise that the majority are currently taking between
20 and 40 working days to complete.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

MOD Information Rights Compliance Team

 

MOD Information Rights Compliance Team | 01.N.07 MOD Main Building |
Whitehall | London SW1A 2HB Please note that MOD out-of-office
notifications do not extend beyond Defence. If you feel you have not had a
timely response to an email, please phone to check that I am in office or
email the MOD Information Rights Compliance team
at [1]CIO-FOI-IR@mod.uk (FOI/EIR matters) or [2]CIO-DPA@mod.uk (DPA
matters). 

 

References

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mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]

C Griffith left an annotation ()

Why the reduction in numbers?
How many Adult Staff are anticipated to attend?
How many of those Staff are from County HQ,s Personnel ?
Why use 4 People on a Recce that 2 could have completed more than adequately?
What budget was the Recce funded from?

All pertinent and justifiable questions

Nick Wilkinson left an annotation ()

22SEP14 Mersey Warrior FoIA Request

Dear Unnamed of the Army Secretariat,

I apologise for any inconvenience caused. I have identified an error in my message to you dated 16th September 2014. In the second to last paragraph, are a number of references to ‘the exercise’. Of course the FoIA request concerns ‘the reconnoitre’. I request that references to ‘exercise’ be taken as references to ‘reconnoitre’.

Yours faithfully,
Nick Wilkinson

Andy Smith left an annotation ()

Sorry one more thing.

I have been told that staff attending this trip can claim paid training days.

if Exercise Mersey Warrior is not being funded at taxpayers’ expense who is going to be paying the training days?

Nick Wilkinson left an annotation ()

Below is a link to a closely associated request.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

23OCT14
Reference
CIO-FOI-IR (MULTIUSER)
Ministry of Defence
MOD Information Rights Compliance Team
Message dated 19 September 2014
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Dear Ministry of Defence Information Rights Compliance Team,

It is requested that this message is forwarded to the Chief Information Officer, so that he may become aware of the situation. It is hoped that it will be to the long-term benefit of your office.

In your message dated 19th September 2014, you set your target for responding as the 14th October 2014, but intimate that you normally fail to achieve such goals. It is hoped that the below comments may assist your office.

In light of the history of the Merseyside Army Cadet Force’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the resistance encountered while attempting to extract information should be anticipated. It appears that the MACF regard requests from your office with a degree of contempt. Are there grounds for resorting to firmer methods from the outset?

As a matter of strategy it may be worth reviewing all the FoIA requests concerning the MACF and gauging the degree of co-operation with your office. Armed with the results, a case may possibly be made for a more dynamic process with future FoIA requests. In view of the intransigence there may be an argument for routinely appointing an investigating officer.

Requested are copies of documents and records that ought to already exist. They should not be difficult to locate. Below are observations on the FoIA request.

It is formally requested that the Ministry of Defence provide copies of the documents and records:
1. Authorising the expenditure for the reconnoitre. (Presumably the overseeing body, the Northwest Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Association, was consulted.)

Would it be more expeditious for the MOD Information Rights Compliance Team to directly approach the NWRFCA or any other office with the role of overseeing the MACF?

2. Authorising four senior MACF officers representing the Army Cadet Force to travel to South Africa and justifying the requirement for four officers to travel.

Direct the request to the Commanding Officer, Merseyside Army Cadet Force. If he is one of those travelling to South Africa as part of the reconnoitre, he will undoubtedly have apposite documents readily to hand. If he does not then the Cadet Executive Officer should be in a position to promptly furnish them. Duplicate documents will be with the authorising office.

When approaching the MACF, it may be useful to be aware of the relevant paragraphs in the Army Cadet Force Manual.
9.084. ‘Travel by air to destinations other than Germany is permitted but, for other than official visits, is to be at private expense. Travel on official exchanges eg to Canada, is to be arranged by HQ LAND (Cadets & OTC Branch).’
3.054. ‘Application for an ACF party to travel outside the UK for training or other purposes, except for those visits mentioned in para 3.053, is to be made to HQ LAND, in triplicate, through the parent Formation HQ, with a copy to the appropriate RFCA and the ACFA, in the form at Annex F to this Chapter, two months ahead of the proposed departure date. Applications are necessary even if the party is travelling at the private expense of members.’

It is reasonable to expect that HQ LAND (Cadets & OTC Branch) will be able to furnish documents to satisfy the FoIA request. Indeed documents from that office will carry greater validity than copies from the MACF.

3. Showing the actual expenditure for the trip, itemising incidental expenses and pay for the officers.

Invoices from African Wild Trails Limited and South African Airways have been released. The total cost of drivers and vehicles between Merseyside and Heathrow Airport have yet to be provided. The Mechanical Transport Officer, MACF, Altcar Training Camp, will be in a position to identify the drivers and vehicles. The vehicle logbooks record the mileage. The Westminster pay module identifies any overtime payment for the drivers. The drivers’ pay scales will show the base cost.
N.B. The interest lies in whether or not tax payers paid for the airport transfers, so the vehicle logbooks together with the pay grade of the driver are acceptable.

The Commanding Officer is able to identify the officers travelling and Westminster will reveal the training days claimed. There is no valid reason for the unavailability of these records or the record of incidental expenses.

4. Showing the names of the accounts together with their designated purpose, from which the funds for the reconnoitre were drawn.

It is believed that the only source for this information is the MACF. The key person is the Cadet Executive Officer, MACF. The annotations on the South African Airways and African Wild Trails Limited invoices indicate the possibility of an account called ‘SA’.

5. Laying out the monies so far raised for Exercise Mersey Warrior. The documents should be available, at minimal cost, from the MACF HQ at Altcar and the NWRFCA in Liverpool.

Again, it is believed that the only source for this information is the MACF. Realistically, the accounts may not yet have been forwarded to the supervising registered charity. There is little cost or difficulty associated with this, as records should have been made at the time or shortly afterwards. In any case, they will be required by the overseeing registered charity so creating those documents now will reduce work in the future. They are mandatory under the Charity Acts.

It is quite clear that a registered charity is involved as the fundraising for Exercise Mersey Warrior continues by means of bag packing in supermarkets. Previously, public fundraising without the involvement of a registered charity may have just about been regarded as crass incompetence. Since mid October 2014, the necessity of the involvement of a registered charity was clear. Therefore, continuing to organise public collections, knowing them to be unauthorised and therefore unlawful, could possibly be regarded as an indication of culpability and an intent to continue ignoring the law, so logically this cannot be the case. Identifying the charity may enable the production of appropriate documents.

I apologise for repeating this statement. It is appreciated that the true cost of extracting this information is far in excess of the expected expenditure, but it is maintained that the difficulty is entirely due to poor record keeping, negligent management and inadequate supervision of a demonstrably flawed organisation. An attempt to limit future Freedom of Information Act requests based on the issue of excessive expense will be challenged.

Yours faithfully,
Nick Wilkinson

CIO-FOI-IR (MULTIUSER),

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wilkinson

 

Please find attached an Internal Review for FOI2014/04181.

 

Information Rights Team

 

MOD Information Rights Compliance Team | JFC ISS | 01.N.07 MOD Main
Building | Whitehall | London SW1A 2HB |
Please note that MOD out-of-office notifications do not extend beyond
Defence. If you feel you have not had a timely response to an email,
please phone to check that I am in office or email the MOD Information
Rights Compliance team at [1]CIO-FOI-IR@mod.uk (FOI/EIR matters) or
[2]CIO-DPA@mod.uk (DPA matters). 

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]

FOI2014/04181 14th December 2014
ISS-SPP Information Rights Deputy Head

Dear Mr Tranham,

Thank you very much indeed for your most informative and useful letter dated 4th December 2014. It contains the best description that I have read of the relationship between the Army Cadet Force (ACF), Army Cadet Force Association (ACFA), Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Association (RFCA), Army and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

I do believe that two aspects of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) (FOI) request remain unfulfilled. The first relates to item 2 in the FoIA request.
”It is formally requested that the Ministry of Defence provide copies of the documents and records: …
… 2. Authorising four senior MACF officers representing the Army Cadet Force to travel to South Africa and justifying the requirement for four officers to travel.”
According to the Army Cadet Force Manual,
3.054. ‘Application for an ACF party to travel
outside the UK for training or other
purposes, except for those visits mentioned
in para 3.053, is to be made to HQ LAND,
in triplicate, through the parent Formation
HQ, with a copy to the appropriate RFCA
and the ACFA, in the form at Annex F to this
Chapter, two months ahead of the proposed
departure date. Applications are necessary
even if the party is travelling at the private
expense of members.’
HQ LAND (Cadets & OTC Branch) should have a copy. The production of the document or alternatively, a statement saying that no such application was made or that it does not exist will be appreciated.

In section 7 of your letter it is stated that some of the information is redacted as it was exempt under section 40, Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Personal Information). Please, clarify that the substantive documents were released with names blocked out or that the documents in their entirety were withheld. If entire documents were withheld, please identify those documents.

For the assistance of others coming to this material, the link in section 12 of your letter may better be replaced by
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...
The item on page 24 of Council of Reserve Forces & Cadets’ Associations Annual Reports and Accounts 2013/14 titled ‘Designated Safeguarding Officers’ is of interest. The Merseyside Army Cadet Force (MACF) may proudly assert that it was instrumental in the national implementation of the protocols and associated training.

It is considered that your letter is of great value to others questioning the cadet organisations. Possibly, there are close similarities with the relationships between the Air Training Corps (ATC), Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) and the Royal Air Force (RAF), also, the Sea Cadets, Royal Marines Cadets (RMC) and the Royal Navy (RN). Please, forgive the verbosity, many words and abbreviations are included for the benefit of search engines.

With no irony, your description of the relationships between the organisations should be published on the Ministry of Defence websites.

Yours faithfully,
Nick Wilkinson

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