MINUTES

CA Purkis made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman of their handling of this request.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please could you provide me with the minutes of the meeting with PASC, who attended your offices on the 27/02/2014.

I ask in the public interest in light of the PASC report which was published shortly after.

Yours faithfully,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear CA Purkis

Re: Your information request FDN-191515

I write further to your email of 14 May 2014 in which you requested ‘the minutes of the meeting with PASC, who attended your offices on the 27/02/2014.’

I have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Having carried out a search I can confirm we do not hold any recorded information relating to your request.

It might be helpful if I explain that the purpose of PASC’s visit was to talk to members of our customer services team about their work and to listen in to calls coming in to our customer services helpline. Given the nature of the visit, no minutes were taken by PHSO and the content of the calls themselves was confidential.

Yours sincerely

Luke Whiting
Head of FOI/DP

show quoted sections

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your reply.

Given that the content of the calls were confidential, could you tell me if the people that called in were informed that members of the PASC committee were listening in to their calls?

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Good luck with that one CA!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Please note that PHSO is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information you have provided we will take full account of your request for confidentiality but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances.

::::

I'm confused...What this seems to read is:

We are bound by the law of Data Protection..therefore the 'data' of your phone call will be confidential.

Therefore we cannot share it with any other party, not employed by the PHSO, without your permission.

Except MP's, who the PHSO is trying to impress and therefore don't count.

So, in reality, the law is what we want it to be.

:::.

So does the British constitution now allow MP's listen into a confidential phone call to a supposedly 'independent' government organisation - at whim?

If so, it certainly demonstrates the relationship between the politicians , the PHSO and the public.

Supposing the MP was from a party thoroughly disliked by the complainant. Would they still give their permission for MP eavesdropping? Or were they just not told about it?

And if the member of public was advised of the MP eavesdropper (Presumably not their own MP - who would already have been handling their case) how does that make the complaint a truthful representation of a what-was to-have-been a confidential phone call? It's difficult to be completely open in the circumstances.

And were the callers' own MP's informed that fellow MP's had access to their constituent's phone calls?

If I was an MP I would be furious that a case in which I was personally involved would be openly divulged to another MP, especially from an opposition party.

Select committee MP, or not.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I'm guessing I'm going to get a 'clever' answer. Like this is not 'recorded' information (pardon the pun!) and therefore they won't answer.

Dear foiofficer,

Please could you give me some indication as to when you are going to reply to my FOI request about whether or not you informed the complainants calling in, that people other than your employees (Members of the HASC) were listening in to their telephone calls (as you previously informed me)?

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Is there a Data Protection issue here?

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

Your information request (our reference: FDN 191515)

 

Thank you for your email dated 13 June 2014 in which you asked the follow
up question below:

 

‘Given that the content of the calls were confidential, could you tell me
if the people that called in were informed that members of the PASC
committee were listening in to their calls?’

It may be helpful if I first explain, that an important part of the
Parliamentary Administration Select Committee’s (PASC) role is to
scrutinise the work of the Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman (PHSO). PASC does this through regular evidence sessions which
look not only at PHSO’s performance but also allow PHSO to make Parliament
aware of issues arising in our casework.  Given their role in scrutinising
PHSO’s work, it is important that PASC and their support staff (such as
PASC’s clerks) understand the work of PHSO.

 

As part of their broader role, and in order to learn more about the work
carried out by our customer services team, on 27 February 2014 two members
of PASC and two clerks visited the office of the Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman (PHSO). During their visit, they listened to
approximately two calls each from our customer helpline. This was
necessary to give PASC and the clerks a better sense of the issues and
complaints that our customers bring to us, and to help PASC understand how
the customer services team help our customers.

 

The Ombudsman’s governing Acts, the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993
and the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 enables PHSO to share
information for the purposes of carrying out her role. Given the
importance of PASC to our statutory role we were able to share information
with them.

 

In addition to this, legislation governing the recording and monitoring of
telephone calls do not require us to obtain consent from callers, as the
processing of personal information (and sensitive personal information) is
necessary to exercise our statutory function. 

 

I hope that the information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The answer is that no permission was sort from callers..

But surely the PHSO can only do this with permission from the callers?

Who have to be warned first - before any external bodies to the PHSO can listen in.

Likewise if a call is taped, there has to be a warning that it might be,. For 'training purposes' etc. The caller therefore has to opt in to their rights of expected privacy being infringed, which they have under the DPA.

The PHSO's remit can only be to investigate cases and to provide any information to other bodies necessary for it to do so. Not to protect its own reputation - as PASC has no remit to deal with individual cases.

Letting MP's listen in to phone calls also subverts the right of privacy between the MP that recommended the case to the PHSO - not just the caller. It's not for the PHSO to determine that MP's private business with his/ her constituent should be handed to PASC on a plate.

Likewise, the PHSO surely cannot give personal files to any MP that fancies reading a few cases, brought to the PHSO by another MP, ..which is essentially what it is doing here.

:::

And letting PASC clerks listen in to the calls is certainly irrelevant. PASC clerks simply do not need to be treated to a day out and listen to the the personal distress of others to shuffle papers and do their job.

PASC should be asked why it infringed the right of privacy of complainants - who had every expectation of it.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

Thank you Jan for this follow-up.

Quickest of Google searches produces the following results.

PHSO might like to explain why the general legal principles evidently don't apply to them and "third parties" including MPs.

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/advice/prac...
http://www.vanillaip.com/docs/PDF's/...
http://www.century-comms.com/brochures/L...
http://ico.org.uk/news/latest_news/2012/...

Dear foiofficer,

Thank you for your response.

I suspect you have breached the Data Protection Act by allowing two clerks to listen in to embers if the public that call you in confidence, let alone actuak Members of the Committee.

Could you tell me which members if the Committee came to 'scrutinise' you and listen in to telephone calls?

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

E. Colville left an annotation ()

I strongly agree with your Carol-Ann. My annotation to this request
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...
is equally relevant to yours. I've written:

"This request raises valid questions that need answering.

In May 2012 a PHSO officer sent me this message:

"PROTECT - SENSITIVE

Dear Ms Colville

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's Office acknowledges your correspondence which was dated XX/05/2012. We will respond to you shortly.

Your reference number, which you should quote if you need to contact us, is [XXXXXX].

Please read the important information below

Using your information
The Ombudsman's investigations are by law conducted in private and we will at all times comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. At the same time, in order to assess your complaint, we may need to obtain or share information about your case with other parties, such as our specialist advisers and the body that you have complained about. We may also use information about your case for training purposes or to help us investigate similar complaints. If there is any reason why we should not use the information we hold on your case, or if you have any questions about how we will handle it, please let us know."

That is to say, I was specifically invited to make submissions about the handling of my enquiry and use of my information - which I in fact did. I replied in these terms:

"On belief and understanding, Dr Tony Wright, formerly Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee [PASC], may still be a [board] adviser to the PCA.[PHSO] I was extremely disappointed by the manner in which Dr Wright effectively washed his hands of my concerns when I first approached that Committee in 2008 (a snapshot of some of the correspondence is forwarded below) through his retirement as an MP and Chair of the Committee. Therefore, I would not be comfortable were Dr Wright to have access to my data nor were he to have involvement as an adviser in respect of the case at hand. If in due course there is data which I would not wish the PCA[PHSO] to share with [XXX] and/or any others, I will advise accordingly."

Prior to that I had received this message from the Clerk of PASC in April 2010:

"The Ombudsman is accountable to Parliament through this Committee. The Committee monitors the complaints made to it in order to identify any systemic issues that it may take up as part of its scrutiny of her work. However, its role is to scrutinise the work of the Ombudsman as a whole and it will not examine the particulars of an individual case."

If PASC do not "examine the particulars of an individual case" then how comes we now learn from the PHSO that they apparently have rights to listen in on private conversations dealing with one or more individual cases? These statements seem to me to be mutually contradictory.

Now consider a hypothetical situation: Part of your believed-to-be"in private" conversation with the PHSO Customer Service helpline raises issues about acts and omissions of your MP who is the go-between between you and the PHSO in respect of a parliamentary complaint and that MP is also a member of the PASC who just happens to be sitting in on the "confidential" conversation without your knowledge. Would that not constitute a breach of confidentiality and your assumed right to privacy in what you choose to disclose to the PHSO about your individual case?

In general, I am not against PASC members listening in to PHSO conversations with complainants/enquirers- provided there is full disclosure at the outset of the conversation and there is a right to object if the complainant/enquirer feels privacy might be compromised or they are otherwise uncomfortable with it."

J Roberts left an annotation ()

It is not just members and clerks of PASC who can listen in to confidential telephone conversations:

"On 12 June 2014, 4 senior officials from the Department of Health listened to calls on our customer helpline as part of improving the health service complaints system."

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

Something omitted from the response you received (paragraph beginning "The Ombudsman's governing Acts") but included in mine is:

" The Freedom of Information Act was not relevant."

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

But the Data Protection Act is!!

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Keep going CA Purkis.....there appears to be a huge Public Interest here!

D. Speers left an annotation ()

"The Ombudsman is accountable to Parliament through this Committee. The Committee monitors the complaints made to it in order to identify any systemic issues that it may take up as part of its scrutiny of her work. However, its role is to scrutinise the work of the Ombudsman as a whole and it will not examine the particulars of an individual case."
We have been advised!

Dear foiofficer,

Could you also guide me to the part of your legislation where it states that you are legally allowed to have people that are not employed by the PHSO listen in to telephone calls by members of the public.

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998...
Human Rights Act.
Article 8
Right to respect for private and family life

1Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

:::
It could be argued that the committee members of PASC had a function in 'interference ' of that 'respect ' in listening to complainants calls in order to promote public safety, or for the protection of health as they were in the process of making their report.

.....But not the clerks, who were presumably only there to explain to the MP's the significance of the phone calls ..the MP's being too dim to make up their own minds.

Otherwise the action must apply to any government clerk.

There are about five other laws that might apply.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Surely the MP shepherding the complainant's case throught the PHSO's complaints system might have some objection to a member of another political party listening in to his/her constituent's phone calls with it permission ?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

PASC has no legal rights over the PHSO, and no rights to listen in on conversations. They can sit next to them and listen to how they handle conversations, but listening in is a whole other area!

D. Speers left an annotation ()

I would argue we have two ears, one mouth for a reason! Listening and hearing are vital.
http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.go...

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

Your information request – our reference: FDN 196287

 

Further your emails dated 12 and 13 July 2014, I am writing in response to
your follow up Freedom of Information request in response to FDN 191513.

 

1. Could you tell me which members if (sic) the Committee came to
'scrutinise' you and listen in to telephone calls?

 

On 27 February 2014, Bernard Jenkin MP (Chair of the Parliamentary
Administration Select Committee) and Kelvin Hopkins MP visited the Office
of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.  During their visit,
they listened to approximately two calls each from our customer helpline.

 

2. Could you also guide me to the part of your legislation where it states
that you are legally allowed to have people that are not employed by the
PHSO listen in to telephone calls by members of the public.

 

Section 15 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and section 11 of
the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 enable the Ombudsman to share
information for the purpose of carrying out her statutory role.

 

In our response to you on 11 July 2014, we explained the Parliamentary
Administration Select Committee is responsible for scrutinizing the work
of the Office of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, we also
explained why PASC listened to calls when they visited the office of the
PHSO. A copy of our response can be found by clicking on the link:
[1]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/minutes_14#comment-52041.

 

I hope that the additional information is helpful.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

 

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/mi...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Confidentiality of information.

(1)Information obtained by a Commissioner or his officers in the course of or for the purposes of an investigation shall not be disclosed except—
(a)for the purposes of the investigation and any report to be made in respect of it,
(b)for the purposes of any proceedings for—
(i)an offence under the Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989 alleged to have been committed in respect of information obtained by virtue of this Act by a Commissioner or any of his officers, or
(ii)an offence of perjury alleged to have been committed in the course of the investigation,
(c)for the purposes of an inquiry with a view to the taking of such proceedings as are mentioned in paragraph (b), F1. . .
(d)for the purposes of any proceedings under section 13 (offences of obstruction and contempt) [F2or
(e)[F3where the information is to the effect that any person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of patients]as permitted by subsection (1B).]
[F4[F5(1A)Subsection (1B) applies where, in the course of an investigation, a Commissioner or any of his officers obtains information which—
(a)does not fall to be disclosed for the purposes of the investigation or any report to be made in respect of it, and
(b)is to the effect that a person is likely to constitute a threat to the health or safety of patients.]
(1B)In [F6a case within subsection (1)(e)] the Commissioner may disclose the information to any persons to whom he thinks it should be disclosed in the interests of the health and safety of patients [F7; and a person to whom disclosure may be made may, for instance, be a body which regulates the profession to which the person mentioned in subsection (1A)(b) belongs or his employer or any person with whom he has made arrangements to provide services.]
(1C)If a Commissioner discloses information as permitted by subsection (1B) he shall—
[F8(a)where he knows the identity of the person mentioned in subsection (1)(e), inform that person that he has disclosed the information and of the identity of any person to whom he has disclosed it, and
(b)inform the person from whom the information was obtained that he has disclosed it.]]
(2)Neither a Commissioner nor his officers [F9nor his advisers] shall be called on to give evidence in any proceedings, other than proceedings mentioned in subsection (1), of matters coming to his or their knowledge in the course of an investigation under this Act.
[F10(3)The reference in subsection (2) to a Commissioner’s advisers is a reference to persons from whom the Commissioner obtains advice under paragraph 13 of Schedule 1 [F11or paragraph 6(6) of Schedule 1A].]
[F12(4)Information obtained from the Information Commissioner by virtue of section 76 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 shall be treated for the purposes of subsection (1) as obtained for the purposes of an investigation and, in relation to such information, the reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the investigation shall have effect as a reference to any investigation.]

:::::

Is this the right section because I cannot see why - if a case has not yet been assessed - the 'for the purposes of the investigation' clause applies. Because how would the Ombudsman be able to predict that it wasn't someone asking how to process their - case through their own MP?

If cases were chosen at random ..which they should if been if the exercise was to be of any help to PASC ... Then their content would but always fall into 'for the purposes if investigation' category. And therefore if no investigation occurred after the phone call,then it would seem that the Ombudsman has abused its legal powers.

However, I expect that these phone calls - in which complainants would have had every right to assume confidentiality and privacy, gave Dame Julie Mellor and Bernard Jenkin something to talk over - during any private meetings held - while the PASC was ostentsibly carrying out a rigourous investigation of the PHSO.

Dear foiofficer,

I'm afraid that your reply has raised more questions for me, and I wondered if you would be able to clear them up for me?

You state that' Section 15 of the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 and section 11 of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 enable the Ombudsman to share information for the purpose of carrying out her statutory role.'

1. Please could you get your legal department to confirm that these sections enable the Ombudsman to legally allow Mr Jenkins and Mr Hopkins to listen in on members of the public that call in on the Customer Helpline. Presumably, these customers, have not yet had any kind of decision made about whether or not their complaint is going to be investigated, or indeed, even taken on by the PHSO? How would this constitute 'sharing' of information under this legislation?
Please note I am now fully aware of the role of the Committee and this does not need to be explained to me for the fourth time.

Also - you state that 'legislation governing the recording and monitoring of telephone and monitoring of telephone call do not require you to obtain consent from callers, as the process of personal information (and sensitive personal information) is necessary to exercise your statutory function.'

2. Could you tell me what legislation you are referring to with regard to the monitoring and recording of telephone calls, and how it applies to you, as I have been told on more than several occasions, that you do not record telephone calls?

3. Could you confirm that the PASC clerks did not listen in to any telephone conversations?

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Keep going CA...Thank you for a very interesting FOI!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So they invited PASC clerks to attend.. Presumably to hold the coats of the MP's while they listened to calls made to other MP's of constituents who had come to them in the full confidence of their personal information being kept secret.

Perhaps the MP's of the eavesdropped callers were informed that other ( possibly opposition) MP's had listened into their constituents calls? ...indeed who were the MP's in the eavesdropped cases... Perhaps they should be told if the PHSO doesn't consider it necessary.

It is certainly worth asking - because of the special relationship between constituent and the MP who forwards to the PHSO. Did the PHSO have these complainants MP's agreement to let other MP's listen into their personal cases, or not ?

Because all information between MP's and their constituents is private.

Unless, of course, the PHSO is stating that an opposition MP may eavesdrop on their constituents cases, as and when the PHSO wishes, which it seems to be.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I've written to PASC chairman Bernard Jenkin - but sadly he hasn't bothered to write back....I can't think why.

1. My understanding us that you listened into complainants phone calls to the PHSO, without informing the complainants - or their MP's, who had referred their cases.

2. It is also my understanding that PASC clerks were also allowed to listen in to these phone calls, without the complainants' or their MP's permission.

Is this true? That clerks absolutely need to know a complainant's private confidences to operate PASC clerical business efficiently?

Or was it some sort of PHSO jolly for the PASC office, during a time when PASC was supposed to be investigating it?

And don't you see any ethical conflict of interest in listening in to other MP's cases - without their knowledge?

It would have been easy to tape phone calls and redact the information for a representative sample of work. So why didn't the PHSO protect the complainants confidentiality - instead of sacrificing it for the benefit of these clerks?

For your information:

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

Regards

JtOakley

E. Colville left an annotation ()

D.Speers here!! BIG BROTHER seems alive and well. I really want my chosen information to remain confidential......not be shared amongst clerks at Westminster!
Dreadful situation!!!

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

Your information request – our reference: FDN 200074

 

I am writing in response to your request for information under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) dated 20 August 2014. I have responded to
your questions below.

 

1.   Please could you get your legal department to confirm that these
sections enable the Ombudsman to legally allow Mr Jenkins and Mr Hopkins
to listen in on members of the public that call in on the Customer
Helpline. Presumably, these customers, have not yet had any kind of
decision made about whether or not their complaint is going to be
investigated, or indeed, even taken on by the PHSO?  How would this
constitute 'sharing' of information under this legislation?

 

As you will be aware the FOIA gives rights of access to recorded
information held by a Public Authority, there is no obligation under the
Act to create information or an opinion unless it has been recorded and
held at the time of receiving the request.

 

In our response dated 19 August 2014 we explained to you how we are able
to share information under the Ombudsman’s legislations. Please click on
the link to view the response which is published on the ‘whatdotheyknow’
website: [1]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/minutes_14#comment-53125.

 

2.   Please note I am now fully aware of the role of the Committee and
this does not need to be explained to me for the fourth time.

Also - you state that 'legislation governing the recording and monitoring
of telephone and monitoring of telephone  call do not require you to
obtain consent from callers, as the process of personal information (and
sensitive personal information) is necessary to exercise your statutory
function.'

 

Could you tell me what legislation you are referring to with regard to the
monitoring and recording of telephone calls, and how it applies to you, as
I have been told on more than several occasions, that you do not record
telephone calls?

 

I can confirm we do not record telephone calls. However it may be helpful
if I explain PHSO has a statutory function which requires the obtaining,
processing and sharing of personal information, a purpose that is
reflected in our registration with the Information Commissioner and is in
line with the Data Protection Act 1998. Please refer to paragraph 5(b) of
schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 1998 for the processing of personal
information, and paragraph 7(b) of schedule 3 to the Data Protection Act
1998 for the processing of sensitive personal information. Please click on
the link provided to view the Act:
www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/con....

 

3.   Could you confirm that the PASC clerks did not listen in to any
telephone conversations?

We have previously responded to this part of your request on 11 July 2014
(our reference: FDN 191515). Please click on the link to view the response
which is published on the ‘whatdotheyknow’ website:
[2]www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/minutes_14#comment-53125.

 

I hope our response clarifies matters.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

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[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So why hasn't the PHSO taped its phone calls?

The reason is that senior officers can pretend that they do not know what is going on ....and are therefore unaccountable.

Taped phone calls would also be evidence towards judicial reviews.

::::

In my case, I taped a phone call from an aggressive PHSO employee.

My complaint started with the sentence that 'The tape starts... It couldn't have been missed by the external investigator, who stated that there was 'no tape recording available' in his report.. To be fair, he recommended it.

Therefore, even if complainants tape PHSO employees, their tapes are not admissible as evidence to external investigators.

(Nb external investigators report to the Legal Advisor , as does the Review team - of whom most complaints are made).

And the result? Of course the external investigator found no fault with the employee.

...Her verbal account was considered more trustworthy than any tape.

E. Colville left an annotation ()

D.Speers here!
Inadmissible as evidence eh! Sorts system out nicely! Only voice heard is the official one!
Handy!!!

Dear Mr Whiting

(I presume it is still you answering my request, although your organisation switches from names to 'FOI Officer' as soon as anything vaguely contentious comes up).

I am requesting an internal review of my request, as you have continuously failed to answer my FOI request satisfactorily.

I did not ask your legal department for an opinion.

I asked for your legal department to confirm that your organisation is legally entitled (this would be recorded statutory information) to allow people that are NOT employed by your organisation (thereby NOT entitled to 'gather information' on the Ombudsman's behalf) to listen in to complainants who call in.

This is very clearly what I asked, and your answer is another example of your organisation's constant attempt to patronise the public and obfuscate facts that we are legally entitled to know.

So - once again - I await your legal department's confirmation that you are LEGALLY ENTITLED to allow the Clerks of the PASC and MP's to listen in to telephone calls from members of the public?
Its a one word answer I am looking for. Allowing your organisation to 'share' information, does not necessarily legally cover you in terms of listening in to people's telephone calls. Only your legal department would be able to give me the correct legal status on this matter.

I have read through the legislation which you allude to, and nowhere does it state that 'sharing information' legally allows you to allow other people to listen in to phone calls. Is the Ombudsman 'interpreting' the law as she sees fit, or can you categorically confirm what I have asked.

If your legal department is happy that this legislation covers your organisation allowing the Clerks and MP's to listen in to members of the public phone calls, they will have no trouble confirming this.

The reason I asked you to refer me to the legislation regarding the monitoring and recording of telephone calls is due to the fact that you stated in a previous reply that;
'In addition to this, legislation governing the recording and monitoring of telephone calls do not require us to obtain consent from callers, as the processing of personal information (and sensitive personal information) is necessary to exercise our statutory function'

Once again, therefore - what legislation are you referring to, where you say you are not required to obtain consent from the callers, when you have people listening in to their calls, because you seem to be saying that your role in collecting data from people, does not mean you have to tell them you are listening in to their calls?

I am fully aware that you are entitled to 'collect information and share information, but you are not telling me what I have asked over and over again.

Given the very private and sensitive nature of some of the issues that members of the public call in with, do you really think that your organisation has followed legislation by 'sharing' (and not even informing!) the sensitive information that members of the public inform you about?
I do believe this is a gross violation of members of the public's human rights.
I am aware that this is an opinion, and don't necessarily need a reply to this.

Lastly - and most importantly, has your organisation kept a record of the names of the members of the public that had their calls listened in to by the Members of the PASC and their Clerks?

I would like confirmation that you have on record, eight names of members of the public, the date they called, and what their call was about, and that you 'shared' this information with PASC members and their clerks, having a written record of the Clerks names as well.
Could you confirm where this information is recorded, as you have previously stated that no notes or information was taken on this visit.

I am aware that this is a new question, and if you need me to make a new FOI request regarding this question, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

We are writing in response to your email of 18 September 2014. We are
sorry that you are dissatisfied with our handling of your information
request entitled ‘Minutes’.

 

Under our internal complaints procedure, your complaint has been passed to
our Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office, Mr Steve
Brown.

 

Mr Brown will consider your concerns and will send you a full reply once
his review is complete. This review of your complaint is the only review
that we will undertake. 

 

We aim to reply to such complaints within 40 working days.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Review Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

 

From: CA Purkis [mailto:[FOI #211325 email]]
Sent: 18 September 2014 15:32
To: foiofficer
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - MINUTES

 

Dear Mr Whiting

(I presume it is still you answering my request, although your
organisation switches from names to 'FOI Officer' as soon as anything
vaguely contentious comes up).

I am requesting an internal review of my request, as you have continuously
failed to answer my FOI request satisfactorily.

I did not ask your legal department for an opinion.

I asked for your legal department to confirm  that your organisation is
legally entitled (this would be recorded statutory information) to allow
people that are NOT employed by your organisation (thereby NOT entitled to
'gather information' on the Ombudsman's behalf) to listen in to
complainants who call in.

This is very clearly what I asked, and your answer is another example of
your organisation's constant attempt to patronise  the public and
obfuscate facts that we are legally entitled to know.

So - once again - I await your legal department's confirmation that you
are LEGALLY ENTITLED to allow the Clerks of the PASC and MP's to listen in
to telephone calls from members of the public?
Its a one word answer I am looking for. Allowing your organisation to
'share' information, does not necessarily legally cover you in terms of
listening in to people's telephone calls. Only your legal department would
be able to give me the correct legal status on this matter.

I have read through the legislation which you allude to, and nowhere does
it state that 'sharing information' legally allows you to allow other
people to listen in to phone calls. Is the Ombudsman 'interpreting' the
law as she sees fit, or can you categorically confirm what I have asked.

If your legal department is happy that this legislation covers your
organisation allowing the Clerks and MP's to listen in to members of the
public phone calls, they will have no trouble confirming this.

The reason I asked you to refer me to the legislation regarding the
monitoring and recording of telephone calls is due to the fact that you
stated in a previous reply that; 
'In addition to this, legislation governing the recording and monitoring
of telephone calls do not require us to obtain consent from callers, as
the processing of personal information (and sensitive personal
information) is necessary to exercise our statutory function'

Once again, therefore - what legislation are you referring to, where you
say you are not required to obtain consent from the callers, when you have
people listening in to their calls, because you seem to be saying that
your role in collecting data from people, does not mean you have to tell
them you are listening in to their calls? 

I am fully aware that you are entitled to 'collect information and share
information, but you are not telling me what I have asked over and over
again.

Given the very private and sensitive nature of some of the issues that
members of the public call in with, do you really think that your
organisation has followed legislation by 'sharing' (and not even
informing!) the sensitive information that members of the public inform
you about?
I do believe this is a gross violation of members of the public's human
rights.
I am aware that this is an opinion, and don't necessarily need a reply to
this.

Lastly - and most importantly, has your organisation kept a record of the
names of the members of the public that had their calls listened in to by
the Members of the PASC and their Clerks?

I would like confirmation that you have on record, eight names of members
of the public, the date they called, and what their call was about, and
that you 'shared' this information with PASC members and their clerks,
having a written record of the Clerks names as well.
Could you confirm where this  information is recorded, as you have
previously stated that no notes or information was taken on this visit.

I am aware that this is a new question, and if you need me to make a new
FOI request regarding this question, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It's just another example of the arrogance of the PHSO has towards complainants.

Most other organisations- including the financial and legal Ombudsman - tell callers that their calls may be taped for training purposes etc. They are then aware that the information given may be used by other parties.

http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/pu...

There is nothing ( as far as I can see) on the PHSO's 'Making a Complaint ' page, or linked pages that tells complainants that ex-PHSO civil service clerks, who have no role in processing their cases, can listen in to their presumed private business.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-compl...

And therefore this gives then no chance to object, or modify their statements.

'Gathering information' - is not allowing listeners - whose business is not processing of helping complainants cases- to eavesdrop, without telling either the complainant, or the MP whose case it is.....

And are MP's told that opposition party MP's can listen into their cases?

Because there is nothing on the PHSO website page for MP's to say so.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/make-a-compl...

So how are complainants and MP's expected to know that there is no confidentiality when they bring their complaints to the PHSO? By asking to read some obscure small print somewhere in the PHSO internal files?

At least with other ombudsmen, complainants have the benefit of SAR's on their cases , which includes the taped spoken word and not a garbled account of a conversation recorded by the written word by semi-literate PHSO employee.

And are fairly alerted to the fact that their presumed confidential phone calls can be overheard, or taped.

Clearly the PHSO has very strong reasons not to match other Ombudsmen and allow complainants the benefit of taped calls.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I have used this word over and over again JT Oakley. Arrogance.
The organisation seems to have no respect or empathy for members of the public. They have proved this over and over again, and it is factually backed up by their appalling statistics of complaints against THEM!
Once again - I point out the irony in this!
What's that old saying - 'The Fish stinks from the head down'
I guess when you are on a High Court Judges salary, you lose touch with the common folk.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It can be argued that as PASC chairman Bernard Jenkin was (according to internal files) having private meetings with Dame Julie Mellor During the time that PASC was investigating the PHSO that any 'frank and free conversation' would have taken place during these off-record meetings.

Therefore the case of applying Section 36 to these on-record minutes would be considerably weakened.

And the separate involvement the Chairman and Ombudsman during this time would increase the public interest test determination on these particular on-record minutes.

It would also be hard to argue that the business of Ombudsman would be weakened by putting these minutes in the public domain ....if the real business is done off-record.

Otherwise, why would the private meetings between PASC chairman and Ombudsman be necessary?

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Your attention to detail Jt Oakley and CA Purkis is to be highly commended and I believe your observations are SPOT ON!
All from top down must be aware the "little people" are demanding answers. We are no longer willing to believe what we already know is not the truth!
Scotland has shown the way and Parliament MUST respond!
Thank you

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

When an organisation records calls, they have to inform the public that they are recording calls and this constitutes "permission" for them to do so, and thereby 'sharing" information is legally covered under The DPA. The PHSO, however, do not record calls and do not inform the public that the have people listening in. People, that, do not even work for the organisation. As we now know, this is not the first time they have done it either.

Dear Mr Brown

Further to my request above.

As your organisation has a long and recorded history of misinterpretation, I would like to clarify the following in my last letter to you.
When I asked you for confirmation of the fact that you recorded the names of the eight people that you had the PASC members and their staff listen in to, I was not asking to be provided with the names. Just to be clear.
Please read the last part of my request carefully in order to understand that I am only asking for confirmation that you followed the correct procedures when collecting and sharing data.

I wondered also, if I might ask you, Mr Brown, what exactly the title of your job means? Forgive me, but I come from an era where the titles where a little shorter and easier to understand.

Head of Risk, Assurance and Programme Management Office? Could you explain this title to me, as I presume your job title is recorded information?

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

Complaintsphso, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear C A Purkis

 

Your information request – FDN 202672

 

Thank you for your email of 18 September 2014 in which you asked the
following questions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:

 

‘Has your organisation kept a record of the names of the members of the
public that had their calls listened in to by the Members of the PASC and
their Clerks?

I would like confirmation that you have on record, eight names of members
of the public, the date they called, and what their call was about, and
that you 'shared' this information with PASC members and their clerks,
having a written record of the Clerks names as well.

Could you confirm where this  information is recorded, as you have
previously stated that no notes or information was taken on this visit’.

I can confirm that we do not hold any recorded information that would
answer your request.

 

I am sorry I cannot be of more assistance. If you are unhappy with my
decision you can ask for a review by email to:
complaints[1][email address].

 

If you still have concerns after that, you can ask the Information
Commissioner’s Office to look into your case.  Their contact details are
available on their website at: [2]www.ico.org.uk.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Sohifa Kadir

FOI/DP Officer

 

 

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

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[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So invade people's privacy - and keep no record of it in case someone asks.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Logically they must know the name of the clerks.

They had to get into the building somehow.

Or is security so loose than anyone can stroll in and listen to complainant's phone calls?

Frightening.

Dear foiofficer,

Once again I am confused by the reply dated the 15th October by Sohifa Kadir in response to my own request dated the 18th September.

I was under the impression that Steve Brown was conducting a review?
Is my request no longer subject to this review by Mr Brown?
If not, then you have failed to answer all my other questions on my request dated the 18th September.
Could you please tell me when you are going to consider these questions and provide me with the answers?
In response to Ms Kadir's answer to my last question of the request dated 18th September, it seems that you did not follow the ICO guidelines and directions when it comes to collecting and sharing people's data.
Could you confirm that this is the case, as you state you have no recorded information on the members of the public that you listened in on and allowed the PASC members and clerks to listen in on as well. You also have no recorded information as to who listened in and when. Could you confirm this please?
I eagerly await your response.

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

foiofficer, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Thank you for your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ombudsman. This return e-mail shows that we have received your
correspondence.

show quoted sections

All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
services. For more information about this please visit www.cctmark.gov.uk

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Do take care CA ..

The PHSO uses these tactics towards declaring you vexatious, or making a vexatious request.

Here's how it's done:

You make a request.

The PHSO doesn't give an answer, so you clarify it.

That's a new request, which gets a new file number.

You ask for a Review, at which responses should finish from the FoI team

The FOI team continues giving responses, even though your case us now in Review.

You respond to the FOI team. Which still hasn't answered your request.

The FOI team gives this another a file number.

It may start another Review.....The record seems to be three Reviews for the same request. When only one was requested.

You are now totally confused. But every response you add, trying to get back to the request, allows another file number.

The FOI team the counts up all the file numbers ....and declares that there will be no response as your request is 'vexatious'. You having been 'obsessive'.

The FOI team stated that I was making a vexatious request... Basically because I was peeved - as my case was 'futile', as it had been decided by the review team. The review team is not the final arbiter. The external investigator is.

Dame Julie Mellor later upheld my complaint that my case had been mishandled by the review team, so it was not so 'futile' , as the FOI team had confidently stated when vexing the request.

The PHSO philosophy seems to be that it just can't have complainants getting their justified complaint about the review team's botched decisions to its line managers.

Here's the request that was designed to find out how to complain about the review teams mis- handling of the case, ....since the complaint just bounced back to the review team.

This is what the FOI team describes as 'vexatious' and how it operates towards that aim.

http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

Be careful CA.

The 'review/ non-review' ..' Yet continuing with responses ' signs are already there - on a request that the PHSO would surely not want to answer.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

What happens to the information you give us
A guide for complainants

When we receive your complaint

When we receive your complaint we will record your name, address and other details of your complaint in a file that we hold:

on a computer;
on paper; or
both.
We will use the information you give us to decide what to do with your complaint. Often we need other information to help us to decide this. If we do, we might give details of you and your complaint to the organisation you have complained about. We might also ask for advice about your complaint from someone with specialist knowledge (for example, a health professional).

If you do not want us to share the information you have given us with others, please tell us straight away.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/bei...

::::

Were complainants informed that PASC members and their clerks were eavesdropping on their confidential phone calls - so that they could make the decision?

Otherwise it is just another example if the PHSO promising 'openness and transparency'.

....But obviously not towards complainants.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for this request and annotations. Very helpful!

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Either they are incredibly incompetent, or it seems the half answers and delays are calculated. That makes it very disturbing.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

CA..It may not be an either/or situation.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Even more worrying....

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

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

lets see if the public get some answers from their elected MP's, or will it be their clerks that answer?

Brown Steve, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Steve Brown

Head of Risk and Assurance

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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W: [1]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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All email communications with PHSO pass through the Government Secure
Intranet, and may be automatically logged, monitored and/or recorded for
legal purposes.
The MessageLabs Anti Virus Service is the first managed service to achieve
the CSIA Claims Tested Mark (CCTM Certificate Number 2006/04/0007), the UK
Government quality mark initiative for information security products and
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[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So if you are bereaved and desperate..ring the PHSO where you anguish can be eavesdropped by a couple of visiting clerks.

Dear Steve

Thank you for your late reply.

I am afraid that I no longer accept you as a credible and impartial 'reviewer', Mr Brown, Head of Risk and Assurance.

You have, to date, found that your organisation has 'satisfactorily' handled ALL Freedom of Information request reviews, and have failed to find that your colleagues have handled anything 'unsatisfactorily'.

We all make mistakes Mr Brown, but it seems that you and your colleagues do not. It seems that you all handle everything that comes across your desks - well, perfectly.

After all, it is not just our FOI requests that have failed your organisations review process, but your own 'review department' also never seems to find anything wrong with their colleagues 'handling' of matters, when we complain.

I can understand that it must be uncomfortable to share a canteen with someone that has told you that you don't do your job properly, but luckily for you and the PHSO, you are all so good at your jobs that none of you ever have to worry about that.

Considering your very important title - and thank you for telling me what you did before (even though I didn't ask) - it is difficult to understand how you took such a long time (outside of the statutory period) getting my questions wrong. They weren't that complicated after all.

I asked you if you could get your legal department to confirm that the WRITTEN AND RECORDED sections of the law you quoted in your original answer to me, entitle your organisation to allow people that are not in your employ, to listen in to complainants who call in to your organization?
It is not an opinion(as I've explained to you several times), but rather recorded legal information, which your legal department would know very well.

You and your colleagues have neatly side-stepped this question, by repeatedly misinterpreting the question.

Of course Mr Brown, we know that an important job like yours, with such an impressive title, means that you couldn't possibly continue to misinterpret my question, when I have explained it to yourselves so very carefully.

This leaves only one explanation - you are doing it deliberately.

The PSHO is supposed to be above reproach. A phone call away from true and proper justice. An organisation that will take your complaint and investigate it fairly and properly.

If only.

We have now had the PASC tell us that your organisation clearly does not do what it is supposed to do, and their latest report clearly shows that despite your consistent denials, you are doing a lot wrong. You only need to look at people like James Titcombe's family, to see that pain and suffering that your organisations lack of competency causes people.

We keep laughing at the irony of you getting more complaints about your service than actual complaints, but its not really funny at all.

There are now Committees 'scrutinising' organisations, and 'independent' commissions policing the police. There was an independent Inspector looking into the Home Office, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee. There is the Financial Authority and the ICO.

So many people watching out for us.

Of course being on a committee or a commission is also a nice little extra earner for the MP's as well,but somewhere along the line, we hope to find some integrity and some honesty. So far, we are still looking.

So - no Mr Brown - I don't accept your review. I do not think you handled my request correctly and I do not think you did your job properly.

I am not satisfied that you dealt with my request properly and I WILL write to the ICO.

I will ask them to explain to me how the PHSO allowed people to come into their organisation and listen in to people's telephone calls. I will ask them if you followed the correct guidelines of 'collecting and sharing data' by allowing these people to listen in to members of the publics telephone calls., and I will ask them if the explanation you shared below, in any way, legally covers what you did, and how.

'The Ombudsman’s governing Acts, the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993
and the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 enables PHSO to share
information for the purposes of carrying out her role.

'In addition to this, legislation governing the recording and monitoring of
telephone calls do not require us to obtain consent from callers, as the
processing of personal information (and sensitive personal information) is
necessary to exercise our statutory function.'

Yours sincerely,

CA Purkis

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The ICO just seems to rollover and believe - and therefore agree - with anything that the PHSO tells it.

The power relationship is that the PHSO determines complaints against the ICO...as it does against the NHS, Home Office etc. so it's not really surprising.

In my case - vs the ICO - the PHSO accepted the ICO's submissions ....but didn't bother to wait for mine.
And closed the case before the deadline it had given me to make submissions.

So the relationship appears to be very 'supportive' indeed.

Therefore expect the ICO to uphold whatever Mr Brown says , if you refer this request to it.

::::

It's not until a complainant goes past the ICO, to a Tribunal, ( it's free to do so) and appeal against the ICO's Decision, that complainants seem to get a fair hearing and therefore justice. (... as I just did on November 19).

There is now a long list of PHSO complainants who have been forced to go to numerous courts ( yourself included CA) to to obtain justice.

::::

CA: As an example of a PHSO complainant,how many court cases have you been forced to undertake regarding your complaint to the PHSO?

And how many have you won?

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I have taken the Home Office to Court four times and have a fifth case pending as they have refused my Subject Access Request and claim they 'can't trace' my information. This is the FOURTH time they are 'unable to trace' my information, but miraculously find it just before the court case and end up paying my court fees and giving me the information! The PHSO couldn't find they had done anything wrong with my sons application (my complaint) and yet the Home Office agreed to pay me back the application fee just before the Court case! My PHSO caseworker also tried to get me to withdraw my case? Failed in every level! And the fact that you have to question the ICO by going to Tribunal and then WINNING??? It's a complete and utter farce! The worst of it is that these people are getting paid to do this non job!!!!

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Lets see how long it takes before my annotation is removed. 50/50 Home Office or PHSO complain to WDTK.....

J Roberts left an annotation ()

J T Oakley,

"In my case - vs the ICO - the PHSO accepted the ICO's submissions"

Isn't it the other way round, the ICO accepted the PHSO's submission? From memory you were deemed vexatious by the PHSO and the ICO rubber-stamped the vexatious determination. This was despite the case against you being very weak and the apparent failure of a PHSO employee to follow the instruction from a superior to "beef up" the case against you. I an left wondering to what extent the "beef up" instruction was not acted upon because you got wind of it.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

So what was Mr. Brown's previous occupation - did he work for FIFA?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

J Roberts.. It's complicated.

My complaint to the PHSO was against the ICO.

Because the ICO is a national body, complaints against it do not go through regional Ombudsmen.

Therefore, instead if the sensible Welsh Ombudsman, who upheld my complaint against the Welsh NHS and was easy to deal with, I was stuck with complaining to the PHSO, which I found to be arrogant and incapable of understanding my case against the ICO.

Stating, when closing my complaint , that I was asking for the medical records ( via the ICO!)...... which I had already read in 2010 ..and with which I had had my complaint to the Welsh Ombudsman upheld.

I kept telling the PHSO that the case result had already been in the national newspapers and Private Eye.
How the PHSO could think that I had had my case against the Welsh NHS upheld without reading the medical records ..goodness knows.

:::

What I wanted to read was the internal files of the health board concerned..via Foi and DPA ...as it had mysteriously 'lost' part of the medical records for nine months.

I wanted to find out what was going on between an external advice company and the health board while these files were 'lost'. ( Subsequently I've found out by other means).

Thus the FOIA..... Not the Access to Health Records Act (1990) which only applies to medical records and which the ICO does not oversee. Personally I am still amazed that the PHSO's Review Team - which must be dealing with NHS cases every day - didn't know the difference.

So the requests that I made the the PHSO were to find out which line manager would look at the review Team botched ICO case that it had investigated - and closed - without understanding it.

The PHSO Foi team vexed my request BEFORE the botched case had been appraised by the PHSO's external investigator, arguing that my case with the external investigator was 'futile' .Presumably because the Foi department thought that the external investigator would automatically back up the infallible Head of Review.

Then the external investigator then UPHELD my complaint stating that the PHSO had indeed botched it... 'Standard well below that which was required' etc.

But the ICO dismissed my statement about the proceeding case. And there is an indication that the vexed request was not even read by the ICO caseworker.

But then, why would the ICO go out if its way to establish the truth, when my complaint with the PHSO was against the ICO?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

CA... That just goes to show that the PHSO does not ask the hard question of any organisation.

It just accepts exactly what it states - and dismisses the complainants statement.

Since you have won four court cases on withheld records, you would think - on this showing alone - that this might be an indication to the PHSO should abandon this unjust pro-organisation stance and test the information given by the complainant.

Rather than just happily accepting the organisation's 'evidence' ..which is, of course, unseen by the complainant and so forcing complainants into court.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I couldn't agree with you more JT.

My PHSO caseworker took the Home Office's word against mine, and have now found evidence of the Home Office redacting information which proved I was telling the truth. If my caseworker had asked for the case notes on my son's file, she would have found evidence of their blatant lying. However, she couldn't be bothered, as she had already told me her opinion of the Home Office's actions on the day I made the complaint - BEFORE she had even looked at the case.
I think we all know that the bottom line here is that the PHSO is looking more and more like it is actually corrupt!
They refuse to address important complaints - deny any wrongdoing, and blatantly ignore aggrieved complainants.
This FOI request is all about their review process.
It doesn't exist. I think we have proved that.
Its all a smokescreen.
Look at what they did to you.
Once again - This is THE OMUDSMAN. This organisation has had more controversy than FIFA - as wisely pointed out by a previous annotation.
I think the entire point of this organisation has been missed, and Julie Mellor is running it like a business.
And not a very good one at that.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

J T Oakley,

Thanks for the clarification - complicated is not the word. The system of complaining seems deliberately set up to deter people from complaining and to label anyone with the legitimate determination to pursue a complaint to the end as vexatious!

Today at 12 o'clock on You and Yours (Radio 4) the subject of NHS complaints is being considered:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04pss4l

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

CA: However, she couldn't be bothered, as she had already told me her opinion of the Home Office's actions on the day I made the complaint - BEFORE she had even looked at the case.

:::

I agree.

It seems as if decisions are made BEFORE the complainants viewpoint is taken into consideration.

The evidence for this is also the result of my complaint , which was sent to my MP as 'final', when I had four days left to put my side of the case...The date was set by the PHSO, not me.

It's as if its accepted that the organisation's evidence trumps that of the complainant ...even if the evidence is 90-10 in favour of the complainant. There is a reason for this.

The problem seems to be that if an untrained caseworker decides that you haven't got a chance, then you never will have. Even if it is a complicated medal and medical case, it's up to an untrained caseworker to refer it to a specialist. They can choose not to.

So once the untrained caseworker has decided your case has no merit, it doesn't.

For example, my case was a tricky DPA/FOIA problem.Was it referred to a lawyer specialising in FOIA law?

Of course not...

Thus the flaw in signing the case off on a completely the wrong premise stated by the caseworker and then carried forward by the review team member - to the head of review.

So senior officers are backing an untrained -and possibly wildly biased - opinion, as it is carried forward in the notes, without appearing to question it.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

C A Purkis,

"This is the FOURTH time they are 'unable to trace' my information, but miraculously find it just before the court case and end up paying my court fees and giving me the information!"

Is this because of incompetence or deliberate policy? Whatever, there does not appear to be any disincentive for them to stop. Clearly, no "lessons have been learned" and costs increase.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

And we have always said that the caseworkers handling medical issues are not in a position to make decisions. As you have pointed out, they don't even have the knowledge of whether or not to pass it on to a specialist.
But because of all the NHS horror stories, we forget that the PHSO are there to look into the complaints of 150+ other governmental organisations.
In my own case, the caseworker freely gave her opinion, while knowing nothing about Immigration Law or the Immigration Rules and Procedures.
As it turned out, The Home Office had transgressed their own rules.
My caseworker didn't have the knowledge or experience to pick this up instantly.
To date, I'm waiting for an apology from the PHSO.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Yes.. Frittering public money away seems to mean nothing to organisations trying to cover up their own ineptitude.

If only they would put the money into employing those who could understand the case in the first place and forget the jollies for clerks, numerous focus groups, ( who all say the same thing - basically:'Get on with it ..and get it right' ) and churning out daily reports on how well the management is doing . .. It might be a better service.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

From what I have read about some of the bodies involved in handling complaints I am concerned that it is not solely ineptitude on the part of investigators. Some critics are inclined to think that in some cases there may exist among investigators an expectation that management want them to dismiss complaints. If this were true, investigators might believe that cases they correctly investigate involving a finding of significant fault might just be returned to them to "look at again".

One of the top reasons for hospital complaints investigated by the Ombudsman Service was poor communication.

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/new...

Is this because of failings that arise during the process of a complaint or because someone specifically first complains to the Ombudsman about a hospital's poor communication? It would be unfortunate if a serious complaint about a hospital morphed into something about slow responses to letters of complaint.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The basic problem is that maladministration has never been defined satisfactorily.

So each Ombudsman seems to alight in on a new definition - but no e if which seem to comply with the general public's idea if what it might be .... Something that is obviously wrong.

Even with the Minutes request above.

. Is it right or wrong that clerks ,who do not need to listen in to people's private phone calls to do their jobs , do so?

The general public would probably say: 'No.We expect our privacy..particularly while still grief-stricken and talking about our recently deceased relative's sad death'.

While the PHSO thinks it is perfectly acceptable to state it can do as it wishes with bereaved people's confidences, even allowing strangers who have no part in the decision-making process on their case to overhear their raw emotions.

..And without telling them, even less thinking to obtain their permission to do so.

The standards that the PHSO applies are therefore not the standards that people expect from a supposedly professional, fair and just Ombudsman.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

And let's not forget that we are encouraged to give "our" side of the story, so we would have divulged names, dates, times and names of institutions - all for the ears of the Clerks of the PASC committee. I'm taking advice on this now, while I prepare my complaint for the ICO. And if they think this is in order - I will appeal their decision too.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

'Given the nature of the visit, no minutes were taken by PHSO and the content of the calls themselves was confidential'.

So was the 'nature of the visit' to allow MP's to listen in to the cases put forward to the PHSO by opposition MP's?

If the PHSO thinks that it is perfectly ok to allow MP's from opposing parties to listen in to their cases, without their permission, I'd love to hear the reasoning why. Because information gathered in this way could be used to capitalise electorally on the private issues brought to the PHSO by complainant's in the constituency.

Especially on NHS cases. How can the public be sure that the calls didn't cover cases like those of Mid-Staffs and Morecambe Bay? The two biggest NHS scandals that the PHSO refused to investigate.

The PHSO has the powers of a high court judge, so by extension of the same logic, bugging MP's offices - and inviting oppositional MP's to listen to voters complaints and problems about the NHS in that constituency- needs no explanation either.

Because that would be 'confidential' too....... No wonder there were no notes taken.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

'...and the content of the calls themselves was confidential'.

They were indeed.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

Interesting thread of enquiry with the usual sloppy response from the PHSO.
I refer to J.T Oakley's advice

HOW DOES A VICTIM OF COVER UP BEST DEAL WITH THE RESPONSE "vexatious" when an organisation subsidised by the service goes out of it's way to be obstructive and unhelpful?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

From ICO internal files, I find that I've maligned the ICO caseworker unduly in the above annotations.

To correct the record:

The caseworker did enquire of the PHSO what it's complaint system was, so that she could understand the vexing of my request - but the FOIA officer basically told her to ' shove off.. PHSO business is none of her business'.

' Not do you appear to be commenting on matters outside the remit of the Information Commissioner. In doing so you have too readily accepted Mrs TO's explanations for the requests she has made'

Thus the case proceed to court,where the Tribunal members also readily decided that my explanations were sound, costing the public purse around £8-10k.....A case the FOIA officer also predicted I could not win - in the summary to the ICO.

Of course, it must be remembered that the PHSO is the ICO's regulator.. and therefore expects the ICO to do what it's told and not presume to ask any relevant questions.

Once again, the Phso demonstrates its culture of exceptional arrogance.