Peter Hanmer, head of Audit and Assurance, finds no evidence of fraud

The request was partially successful.

fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

See content of relevant correspondence.

http://legalbeagles.info/forums/showthre...

http://legalbeagles.info/forums/showthre...

Peter Hanmer, head of Audit and Assurance makes the statement below in response to allegations that the council made a false statement to the court to seek permission to enforce unpaid Council Tax which wasn't outstanding.

" It has been concluded that the actions taken by officers regarding your Council Tax account were correct based on the information and correspondence made available to them at the time... "

The above implies that the council, although aware now, were not at the time that the statement it submitted to the court was untrue.

Nevertheless, the council continues taking steps to recover the sum, perhaps because it deems ultimately it to be the judge's responsibility for granting permission and therefore madness not to exploit it (around £500 unwarranted court costs and bailiff fees added to date).

Q1. What information does the council hold regarding its policy in dealing with the accounts of Council Taxpayers against whom a court order to enforce has been obtained when subsequently it has become apparent that the application should not have been made.

Q2. Is there a statutory provision available for the council to have an order set aside (or similar) and if so under what Act or Regulations does that provision fall.

Q3. Please state the number of times the council has set aside a court order (if that provision exists) to enforce Council Tax.

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt (aka fFaudwAtch UK)

We consider that this request, reference 2427_16176 along with the large number of related requests submitted over the past 4 of years under your own name and pseudonyms such as fFaudwAtch UK through the ‘whatdotheyknow’ website, form a campaign intended to frustrate and challenge the Council’s ability to effectively administer and collect Council Tax in accordance with the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Despite the Council answering and directing you to the information you require, and signposting you to the established procedures in place to formally challenge Council Tax decisions, you have continued to submit regular and overlapping requests challenging the administration and collection of Council Tax by the Council. This unreasonable persistence and intransigence, is placing an unreasonable burden on the resources of the Council. Further the inclusion in your requests of unfounded accusations and the targeting of individuals addressing the issues you have raised, appears to be a deliberate intention to personalise requests and cause annoyance or distress. As your requests have no serious purpose other than to continue your challenge of the Council’s administration of Council Tax, and are not intending or attempting to obtain any recorded information held by the Council, I have determined by virtue of section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act that your request, reference 2427_1617 is vexatious in nature.

We will therefore not be answering be responding to request by virtue of section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Council will consider any future requests received, on a request by request basis, but would again draw your attention to guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office regarding what you should and should not do when making an information request, which is available on their website: https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/offici...

Please note however that requests made to continue your campaign to challenge the administration and collection of Council Tax by the Council, or which target the processes or individuals that are in place to handle and address your requests for information and complaints, will be refused in accordance with section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Feedback Officer

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of North East Lincolnshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Peter Hanmer, head of Audit and Assurance, finds no evidence of fraud'.

It is not the first time I've asked NELC to refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations. I have always made doubly sure that any statements I do make can be fully supported and the council will know this. I suggest that the next time you think about making such assertions you bear this in mind.

If the council took the trouble to review every instance where it has tried to discredit me it will in all cases find that everything I have contended with regards the Council’s administration of Council Tax and established procedures has been correct. As such my requests do have serious purpose and in light of certain officers refusing to address the most recent injustice caused by the council there is even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

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

Yours faithfully,

fFaudwAtch UK

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Gilliatt (aka fFaudwAtch UK)

 

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information request NEL/2427/1617.

 

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request, and determine that this has been in accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act, and your request was correctly refused on the basis of
Section 14 (1) of the Freedom Information Act.

 

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

 

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fFaudwAtch UK (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Complaint to Information Commissioner's Office for the council's mishandling of this freedom of information request.

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire
SK9 5AF

24 July 2016

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF FOI REQUEST NE LINC'S COUNCIL – REF NUMBER 2427-1617

I made a freedom of information request to North East Lincolnshire Council. The details can be found on the “what do they know” website at the following address:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...
“Peter Hanmer, head of Audit and Assurance, finds no evidence of fraud”

BACKGROUND

North East Lincolnshire Council [redact] obtained a liability order by committing [redact]. There was no debt owing, however, the Council [redact] engineered a non-payment scenario. The Police, Local Government Ombudsman and judges are complicit because all of them have looked the other way when the matter brought to their attention.

The negligence of the organisations has enabled North East Lincolnshire Council unhindered to make further [redact] demands by appointing its [redact] bailiff firm Rossendales to enforce the liability order that was obtained by [redact] to the court about money that is not owed.

A formal complaint had been submitted to the Council which contained an allegation of [redact] but was dealt with through the corporate complaints procedure where the Council flatly refused to address it, asserting that the concerns raised fell outside the scope of the complaints process.

It was later discovered that the a member of the Council’s complaints team should have referred the matter to the Audit, Risk, Insurance and Corporate Fraud team immediately in accordance with the 'Fraud Response Plan’.

Correspondence was entered into with the Council’s Monitoring Officer, Mr Maione, to ensure that the [redact] allegations were investigated internally by the audit and assurance team as Humberside Police would not cooperate and refused to investigate. Mr Maione seemed reluctant to deal with the matter and implied a threat in an email sent 18 May 2016. Concerning the allegations his correspondence contained the following:

“You will no doubt appreciate that making allegations including [redact] which are found to be unsubstantiated and/or not evidenced is itself a serious matter."

The audit and assurance team claimed to have carried out a detailed investigation was which was reviewed by the head of audit and assurance (Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect) who concluded that, based on the evidence of the review, he had found no evidence that any [redact] activity had taken place and stated he would not be corresponding further on the issue.

Meanwhile, the [redact] charges continue increasing (currently around £540) and it is believed the internal investigation was a cover-up to protect the reputation of the council and those who, if the matter was investigated properly, would face serious consequences.

In light of the implied threat that was made prior to the investigation, it was viewed that if the investigation genuinely found no evidence that any fraudulent activity had taken place then there would be serious consequences for the person who had made the allegations.

It is believed that the council had no plans to act on its implied threat because the investigation was a sham. This is reinforced by Mr Maione stating he would not respond to further emails, and Mr Hanmer, that he would not be corresponding further on the issue when he was asked for details of the investigation.

The request referred to two emails sent by Mr Hanmer, the council’s Head of Audit and Assurance (Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect), on 23 June and 1 July 2016 (see contents below):

CORRESPONDENCE OF 23 JUNE 2016:

“As set out in previous correspondence from Mr Maione, the Council’s monitoring officer, the audit team has now reviewed the allegations contained in your email to me dated [21] April 2016 under the auspices of the Council’s whistleblowing policy. A review of all relevant correspondence, court papers and interviews with key officers has taken place as part of this process. It has been concluded that the actions taken by officers regarding your Council Tax account were correct based on the information and correspondence made available to them at the time, and we have found no evidence that any fraudulent activity has taken place.

I note your comments around the complaints policy and the fraud response plan in relation to the handling of complaints involving allegations of fraud and corruption and these will be considered when the Council updates both policies during 2016/17.”

CORRESPONDENCE OF 1 JULY 2016:

“Thank you for your email. I can confirm that a detailed investigation was carried out by members of the audit and assurance team and its work was reviewed by myself. As per my correspondence dated 23 June we have made our position clear, based on the evidence of the review, and will not be corresponding any further on the issue.”

It is implied, in particular regarding the 23 June email (below content) that the council, although aware now, were not at the time that the statement it submitted to the court was untrue.

“It has been concluded that the actions taken by officers regarding your Council Tax account were correct based on the information and correspondence made available to them at the time....”

The Council’s Revenues & Benefits service had not as you would have expected considered it a close shave to have avoided being the subject of a [redact] investigation, but emboldened it to take further liberties with the law and seen it as a green light to continue taking steps to recover the sum. It can only reasonably be assumed that because it was ultimately the judge's responsibility for granting permission the council would deem it appropriate to exploit that decision regardless of being aware it was not entitled to the sum being pursued.

With regard to the unwarranted bailiff fees which have been added since, these are of no financial benefit to the council and it must be considered that Revenues & Benefits officers have allowed them to be added for nothing more than their own personal gratification.

FOI REQUEST – 5 JULY 2016

The Council was asked to disclose what information it held regarding its policy in dealing with the accounts of Council Taxpayers against whom a court order to enforce had been obtained when subsequently it had become apparent that the application should not have been made. And if there was a statutory provision available for the council to have an order set aside (or similar) and if so under what Act or Regulations did that provision fall. And to state the number of times the council had set aside a court order (if that provision exists) to enforce Council Tax.

RESPONSE – 8 JULY 2016

The Council determined the request vexatious and refused to provide the information under section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act as it considered the request had no serious purpose other than to continue challenging the Council’s administration of Council Tax, and so not intending or attempting to obtain any recorded information held by the Council. It stated further that the request included unfounded accusations.

REQUEST FOR INTERNAL REVIEW – 12 JULY 2016

The council was reminded that it was not the first time it was asked to refrain from making spurious statements regarding unfounded allegations and that it was always made doubly sure that any statements made could be fully supported and the council would know this. It was suggested that the next time the council considered making such assertions it bore this in mind.

It was put to the council that if it took the trouble to review every instance where it has tried to discredit me it would in all cases find that everything I have contended with regards the Council’s administration of Council Tax etc., had been correct. And with that in mind the requests do have serious purpose and in light of certain officers refusing to address the most recent injustice it had caused there was even more reason for taking to the use of Freedom of Information.

RESPONSE TO INTERNAL REVIEW – 12 JULY 2016

The response and the handling of the request was determined to have been in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the request correctly refused on the basis of Section 14 (1) of the Freedom Information Act.

Nellie Layne left an annotation ()

Information Commissioner's Decision Notice (10 January 2017):
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196169...
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Information Rights Tribunal, Appellant’s notice (grounds of appeal) against Decision Notice:
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196201...

Supporting papers of Grounds of Appeal:
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196421... Exhibit 1
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196515... Exhibit 2
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196631... Exhibit 3
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196664... Exhibit 4
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196674... Exhibit 5
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196694... Exhibit 6
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196707... Exhibit 7
https://www.scribd.com/document/34196715... Exhibit 8
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Commissioner’s Response to appeal:
https://www.scribd.com/document/34197371...

_____________________________________________________

Information Rights Tribunal, Appellant’s Reply to Commissioner's Response to the Appellant’s grounds of appeal:
https://www.scribd.com/document/34353019...

Supporting papers of Appellant’s Reply:
https://www.scribd.com/document/34352992... Exhibit A-1
https://www.scribd.com/document/34352978... Exhibit A-2
https://www.scribd.com/document/34352958... Exhibit A-3
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Tribunal's decision (9 June 2017):

https://www.scribd.com/document/35084899...
_____________________________________________________

Application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, appealing First-tier Tribunal's Decision (Information Rights).

https://www.scribd.com/document/35309378...
_____________________________________________________

Tribunal judge's decision on an application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal:

https://www.scribd.com/document/36937421...
_____________________________________________________

Application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal (First-tier Tribunal refused permission).

1 February 2018
https://www.scribd.com/document/37053068...
_____________________________________________________

Acknowledgement of application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal:

8 February 2018
https://www.scribd.com/document/37120119...

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