Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and procedures

The request was successful.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Request Title/summary within scope.

Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions post the Derby NHS sex-text Tribunal verdict.

The Derby tribunal sex-text case involving the last Deputy Ombudsman, Mick Martin:

http://www.cloisters.com/images/Marks_-_...

NB Helen Marks has stated that she wrote to Dame Julie Mellor to tell her of the Tribunal verdict. And that Dame Julie Mellor stared that she had 'noted' the contents of her letter.

Deputy Ombudsman Mick Martin subsequently resigned,

:::

PHSO press release

'The PHSO board said they had appointed Sir Alex Allan, the former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, to lead an independent review of the organisation’s actions in relation to Mr Martin.

We are conducting a separate independent review looking at the actions we took and the procedures we followed as an organisation. We will be open and honest about the findings from this and will implement any lessons learnt from that review.'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

::::

Here is a High Court verdict, describing Sir Alex Allen's 'independent' involvement in a case:

'The ruling is particularly embarrassing for the Government given the strident criticisms of the evidence given by Sir Alex, who is a former Principal Private Secretary to both Sir John Major and Tony Blair. In testimony to the First Tier Tribunal Sir Alex tried to claim that if ministers were forced to release details of their official diaries they would “adjust their appointment schedules” building in “unnecessary or pointless” meetings so as to create the right impression.

But this was roundly rejected by the three judges: “Sir Alex [and another witness from the Department of Health] gave evidence concerning the danger of ministers being prompted in the future to build in unnecessary meetings as window-dressing” they wrote. “This evidence compounds our difficulties over accepting their evaluative judgments as being objective and reliable.

“Sir Alex said ministers with blank time in their diaries set aside for thinking might well change their behaviour to ensure that meetings were filling the blank time. We find this suggestion incredible. We consider it lacks any justification and is mere alarmism'.

::::

1. I would like to read all PHSO data on file showing how the PHSO board selected Sir Alex Allan to review the PHSO's actions in relation to Mick Martin.

2. Will the review really be 'open and honest' - by presenting it, in its entirety, to the public?

3. When is the review anticipated to be completed?

:::

I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I would like the above information to be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK. The information should be immediately
readable - and, as a freedom of Information request, not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::

Please consider the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

This request does not require a letter, drafted by the external affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees, and purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Jt Oakley

 

Your information request – our case reference: FDN-259133

 

I am writing in response to your Freedom of Information request dated 25
May 2016 in which you asked questions about the Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Board’s appointment of Sir Alex Allan.

 

As you may be aware, Sir Alex Allan has been appointed by the Board to
lead the independent review looking into the adequacy of the procedures
and governance arrangements that the organisation applied prior to the
appointment of Mr Mick Martin and during his employment at PHSO. The
answers to your questions are below.

 

 

1.   I would like to read all PHSO data on file showing how the PHSO board
selected Sir Alex Allan to review the PHSO's actions in relation to Mick
Martin.

 

In line with section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) I
can confirm we do hold information falling within the scope of your
request.  However we intend to publish details about the process of
appointment of Sir Alex Allan when we publish information about the
report. Therefore the information is exempt under section 22 FOIA.

 

 

2.   Will the review really be 'open and honest' - by presenting it, in
its entirety, to the public? 

 

The FOIA gives you right of access to recorded information; there is no
obligation for a public authority to provide comment unless it is already
held. In line with the Act I can confirm we do not hold this information.

 

Please click on the link  below to access our statement in relation to the
independent review. The terms of reference are also included:

 

[1]www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/news-centre/our-statements/sir-alex-allan

 

We have not received the report and until we do, we cannot know at this
stage if there will be matters that affect full publication.  The review
findings and the action we then take will be made public, as we said at
the outset.

 

 

3.   When is the review anticipated to be completed?

 

I can confirm we do not hold this information. It is for Sir Alex Allan to
conduct his review and to decide when the review is completed. 

 

I hope the information is helpful. If you are dissatisfied with the
handling of your information request, you can ask for an internal review
by emailing us at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email].

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Sohifa Kadir

FOI/DP Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/new...
2. mailto:[Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and procedures'.

The application of Section 22..

You will also note that the request is about procedures already completed and unlike it to change - and not the report itself, which I am not asking to read.

Therefore the flux inherent in any discussions, or the drawing up of reports for future publication, which may be changed is not applicable for the reasoning of application of Section 22 in this case.
:::

You must also know that Section 22 is subject to a public interest determination.

' It is a qualified exemption and therefore public authorities must consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption is greater than the public interest in disclosing the requested information'.

You have not provided any indication that you have considered this requirement which is part of the Act.

::

I would argue that a strong public interest determination is applicable In this case , as Sir Alex Allen has been criticised in court as 'lacking objectivity'.

Therefore it is reasonable -and justified - to ask how the PHSO selected Sir Alex Allen to provide it with an 'objective' investigation. And the process used to select this particular person, rather than another.

Particularly as the investigation involves court criticism of Mick Martin ......and Sir Alex has been criticised in court himself.

Therefore the public interest would be ensure that the selection of the person undertaking investigation was fair ....and that the process was used to find a person who would be unbiased against court criticism - which Sir Alex Allen has undergone.

:::

A newspaper report of the judge's criticism of Sir Alex Allen.

Secretive .....and his evidence 'did not correspond with reality' ....

'Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had “lacked objectivity” and should be “roundly rejected”.

The judge also accused Sir Alex of demonstrating a “determination to avoid directly conceding the indefensibility of things he had said” and a “keenness to repeat generalised lines… rather than give direct answers to questions”. He said the evidence was a “reminder of the secretive culture of the public service” that the Freedom of Information Act was meant “to change for good”.

The judges also rejected Sir Alex’s statement that the public already had “a complete record of which external bodies and media organisations have had access to ministers”.

“[This] did not correspond with reality. When asked about the relevance of access by other methods than meetings in person, he parried the questions by saying telephone calls [were] not always recorded and that face-to-face meetings were the most important means of access for serious discussions.

“His determination to avoid conceding the indefensibility of what he had said further reduced our confidence in his evidence.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

--

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,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

The man has been totally discredited. There will be no confidence in his report. Another waste of money.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

"A newspaper report of the judge's criticism of Sir Alex Allen.

Secretive .....and his evidence 'did not correspond with reality' ...."

Not encouraging for complainants. But his reports may be equal to the standard set by PHSO investigators.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I'm sure that there is no need to provide the judiciary translation for :

His evidence 'did not correspond with reality'.

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In the wake of Dame Julie Mellor 's resignation, please could you now respond to this request?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Here is another article with some information about Dame Julie Mellor:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-262401)

 

In your email of 4 July 2016, you asked whether we were now able to
respond to a request you previously made on 25 May 2016 (our reference:
FDN-259133).  In that request, you asked the following questions:

 

 1. I would like to read all PHSO data on file showing how the PHSO board
selected Sir Alex Allan to review the PHSO's actions in relation to
Mick Martin.

 

 2. Will the review really be 'open and honest' - by presenting it, in its
entirety, to the public? 

 

 3. When is the review anticipated to be completed?

 

We responded to your first question by explaining that this information
would be published in due course and that section 22 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA) therefore applies to the requested
information.  We responded to the second by explaining that we did not
hold relevant information.  We advised in response to question three that
the review had not yet been completed and we did not know when it would
be, as this would be for Sir Alex Allan to decide.

 

On 14 June 2016, you requested an internal review of the way we handled
this request.  You will receive a response to this in due course and by 9
August 2016 at the latest.

 

The internal review will look at whether your request was handled in a
legally compliant manner.  However, section 14(2) FOIA allows public
authorities to refuse requests where they are repeated and a reasonable
interval of time has not yet elapsed.  We have concluded that section
14(2) FOIA applies to your requests numbered 1 and 2, as the information
we hold, or do not hold, in relation to these questions has not altered. 

 

We are, though, now able to provide you with a further response in
relation to question three, and can confirm that the review has now been
concluded.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #336729 email]]
Sent: 04 July 2016 12:47
To: InformationRights
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Procedures used by the PHSO
board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and
procedures (FDN-259133)

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In the wake of Dame Julie Mellor 's resignation, please could you now
respond to this request?

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and procedures'.

The procedures used to appoint Sir Alex Allen are seperate - and pre-date his review of the Ombudsman's actions and procedures. Therefore there is no reason to withold the information since it is not part if his eventual report.

Therefore the information should be made publically available as it is in the public interest to know why Sir Alex Allen was chosen from the wide field of possible reviewers - since public money is being spent to undertake the review.

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,

Jt Oakley

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, 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.

J Roberts left an annotation ()

It would be interesting to know whether those who decided on the appointment of Sir Alex were aware of the the case in which a judge was of the opinion that Sir Alex's evidence - 'DID NOT CORRESPOND WITH REALITY'. If they were aware, it makes one wonder about the quality of all those who were turned down.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

3 Attachments

Dear J T Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-259133)

 

As I explained in my email of 1 August 2016, we have already received a
request for internal review in relation to this matter.  We will deliver
our response next week.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

Follow us on

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From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #336729 email]]
Sent: 02 August 2016 21:17
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Procedures
used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's
actions and procedures

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Procedures used by the
PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and
procedures'.

The procedures used to appoint Sir  Alex Allen are seperate - and pre-date
his review of the Ombudsman's  actions and procedures. Therefore there is
no reason to withold the information since it is not part  if his eventual
report.

Therefore the information should be made publically available as it is in
the public  interest to know why Sir Alex Allen was chosen from the wide
field of possible reviewers - since public money is being spent to
undertake the review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear J T Oakley

 

Internal review of your information request (FDN-259133)

 

I am writing in response to your email of 14 June in which you requested
an internal review of your request entitled ‘Procedures used by the PHSO
board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and
procedures’.  This review will consider whether we responded to your
request in line with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (FOIA).

 

Background

 

Your request of 25 May 2016 posed three questions, as follows:

 

1. I would like to read all PHSO data on file showing how the PHSO board
selected Sir Alex Allan to review the PHSO's actions in relation to Mick
Martin.

2. Will the review really be 'open and honest' - by presenting it, in its
entirety, to the public? 

3. When is the review anticipated to be completed?

 

We responded on 14 June 2016 by applying section 22 FOIA, the exemption
for information intended for future publication, to information held in
relation to question one, advising that as ‘we intend to publish details
about the process of appointment of Sir Alex Allan when we publish
information about the report’, the information was currently exempt.  We
explained that we did not hold information in relation to questions two
and three.

 

Since we responded to your request on 14 June 2016, we separately
confirmed in an email of 1 August that Sir Alex Allan’s review has now
been completed.

Review

 

The main focus of my review will be whether the exemption at section 22
FOIA was applied correctly.

 

Your original request asked for ‘all PHSO data on file’, meaning that
rather than describing what general processes were used to appoint Sir
Alex Allan, PHSO would instead have needed to disclose all relevant
recorded information to meet the terms of your request, or explain why
that information was exempt.  I am satisfied that, as set out in our
original response, PHSO does hold recorded information relevant to part
one of your request.

 

As section 22 FOIA is a qualified exemption, I have first of all
considered whether the public interest test weighed in favour of
disclosing or withholding information relating to Sir Alex Allan’s
appointment.  I recognise that there is a public interest in publishing 
this information in advance of planned publication to promote
accountability and transparency of appointment and procurement.  However,
in this case, there are strong arguments to support the use of the future
publication exemption on the basis that the best use of public resources
would be directed to pulling this information together and ensuring that
all supporting information relating to the governance review is published
in a fair, consistent and comprehensive format.  I am therefore satisfied
that in this case, the public interest weighed in favour of withholding
the information requested until the point of planned publication.

 

However, as set out above, in applying the exemption at section 22 FOIA to
all information relevant to your request, we effectively made a commitment
that all this information would be published at a future date.  Having
reviewed this issue, I have concluded that as some relevant recorded
information comprises data personal to third parties and includes the
names of other individuals considered to conduct the review, an additional
exemption should also have been applied to information relevant to part
one of your request.  As we would not be able to place this information in
the public domain without contravening at least one of the Data Protection
Principles, this third party personal data is exempt in line with section
40(2) FOIA.  I partly uphold your complaint because we failed to provide
you with the basis on which we would restrict publication of the material
within scope of your request.

 

In all other respects I consider that your information request was dealt
with fairly, appropriately and in a legally compliant manner.

 

That concludes my review of this matter.  If you consider that this review
has not dealt with your information request properly, it is open to you to
complain to the Information Commissioner.  The relevant details are
available online at the following address: [1]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Acting Head of Freedom of Information / Data Protection

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #336729 email]]
Sent: 14 June 2016 18:56
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Procedures
used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's
actions and procedures

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Procedures used by the
PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and
procedures'.

The application of Section 22..

You will also note that the request is about procedures already completed
and unlike it to change - and not the report itself, which I am not asking
to read.

Therefore the flux  inherent in any discussions, or the drawing up of
reports for future publication, which may be changed is not applicable for
the reasoning  of application of Section 22 in this case.
:::

You must also know that Section 22 is subject to a public interest
determination.

'· It is a qualified exemption and therefore public authorities must
consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption is
greater than the public interest in disclosing the requested information'.

You have not provided any indication that you have considered this
requirement which is part of the Act.

::

I would argue  that a strong public interest determination is applicable
In this case , as Sir Alex Allen has been criticised in court as 'lacking
objectivity'.

Therefore it is reasonable -and justified - to ask how the PHSO selected
Sir Alex Allen to provide it with an 'objective' investigation.   And the
process used to select  this particular person, rather than another.

Particularly as the investigation involves court criticism of Mick Martin
......and Sir Alex has been criticised in court himself.

Therefore the public interest would be ensure that the selection of the
person undertaking  investigation was fair ....and that the process was
used to find a person who would be unbiased against court criticism -
which Sir Alex Allen has undergone.

:::

A newspaper report of the judge's criticism of Sir Alex Allen.

Secretive .....and his evidence 'did not correspond with reality' ....

'Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former
chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had lacked objectivity and
should be roundly rejected.

The judge also accused Sir Alex of demonstrating a determination to avoid
directly conceding the indefensibility of things he had said and a
keenness to repeat generalised lines rather than give direct answers to
questions. He said the evidence was a reminder of the secretive culture of
the public service that the Freedom of Information Act was meant to change
for good.

The judges also rejected Sir Alexs statement that the public already had a
complete record of which external bodies and media organisations have had
access to ministers.

[This] did not correspond with reality. When asked about the relevance of
access by other methods than meetings in person, he parried the questions
by saying telephone calls [were] not always recorded and that face-to-face
meetings were the most important means of access for serious discussions.

His determination to avoid conceding the indefensibility of what he had
said further reduced our confidence in his evidence.

[4]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

--

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
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latest advice from the ICO:
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If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

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Dear InformationRights,

Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions post the Derby NHS sex-text Tribunal verdict.

Dear Ms Gasston

There seems to be a misreading of what constitutes a procedure :

Here is a definition:

procedure
prəˈsiːdʒə/
noun
an established or official way of doing something.

"the police are now reviewing procedures"

synonyms: course of action, line of action, plan of action, policy,

series of steps, plan, method, system, strategy,

stratagem, way, approach, formula, mechanism,

methodology, MO (modus operandi), SOP (standard

operating procedure), technique, means, measure,

process, proceeding, operation, agenda;

a series of actions conducted in a certain order or manner.

"the standard procedure for informing new employees about

conditions of work"

You will notice be that an official way of proceeding ( a plan) will not contain names -which I have not requested, simply because I am requesting a procedure used to appoint.

If in the PHSO's opinion it does - they can be redacted.

::::

Here, for instance is a demonstration of the Parliamentary procedure used to appoint Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

NB The request does not require a demonstration of the procedure in action -just the procedure.

As you can read, the appointment procedure is presented in a sensible and coherent format.
It will not change from one Ombudsman to the next.

So a procedure will - to insure fairness and impartiality - be the same, but the names will change.

::::

In addition, this is a limited request - Specific to the procedure used to appoint Sir Alex Allen.

I clearly did not request the report, which is,as you state, time sensitive.

The procedure therefore is an entirely separate and different request from requesting to read the report.

And, as this must be contracted external investigation procedure, I do not see the argument for having to 'pull together all resources' to find out the procedure used to make an appointment.

Your response indicates that it is just too much trouble for the PHSO to demonstrate its impartiality by releasing the requested data, which must - by the speed that the the investigation was started ( from the date of the printed HSE article which brought the matter to public attention and specificity of a single investigation ) - be minimal.

As to the vast resources that you claim would be used - Surely Sir Alex's contract cannot have been cobbled together in a rush by different numerous departments?

And surely any external investigation into ANY PHSO failing would have a previous procedural format on file?

Or is Dame Julie Mellor NOT subject to the sort of investigation used for any other PHSO failing?

This is the basis of this request - to know that the procedure used to appoint Sir Alex Allen was fair - and ensured impartiality.

Public interest:

Due to the reasons outlined by the judge in my request, the weight in public interest in responding to this request is clearly towards assuring the public that a sound and independent procedure was used.....

:::

The judge's criticism of Sir Alex Allen.:

Secretive .....and his evidence 'did not correspond with reality' ....

'Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had “lacked objectivity” and should be “roundly rejected”.

The judge also accused Sir Alex of demonstrating a “determination to avoid directly conceding the indefensibility of things he had said” and a “keenness to repeat generalised lines… rather than give direct answers to questions”. He said the evidence was a “reminder of the secretive culture of the public service” that the Freedom of Information Act was meant “to change for good”.

The judges also rejected Sir Alex’s statement that the public already had “a complete record of which external bodies and media organisations have had access to ministers”.

“[This] did not correspond with reality. When asked about the relevance of access by other methods than meetings in person, he parried the questions by saying telephone calls [were] not always recorded and that face-to-face meetings were the most important means of access for serious discussions.

“His determination to avoid conceding the indefensibility of what he had said further reduced our confidence in his evidence.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

Logically the public would question the appointment of anyone who has been described as such.

And have a right to know why their money is being spent on a person with such a reputation, and whose judgement may, or may not 'correspond with reality'.

:::

You will have noted that I have requested file data -as per the ICO Decision stated.

Therefore please reconsider the Review of your own work - before I complain to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Aimee Gasston directs me to the procedures used to appoint an Ombudsman.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

'Section 1 and Schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 and
Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 respectively set out the
arrangements for appointment and tenure of office. This legislation is
available online here ([3]www.legislation.gov.uk). The appointment of a
new ombudsman is a lengthy procedure and you might be interested to read
more about the last time this process took place on Parliament’s website
([4]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

::::

It's clear that these selection procedures must be followed, as with any publically funded appointment.

This request reasonably asks for procedures too.

Yet the response reads as if the PHSO has no knowledge of its own procedures in appointing Sir Alex Allen ....and won't divulge them until Sir Alex's report is made public.

:::

The procedure of any appointment has to be made plain before the appointment - to ensure an even chance for all.

So why is the PHSO so secretive about informing the public as to what it was?

:::

Surely the PHSO didn't look at The judge's comments about Sir Alex Allen and offer him the post on the back of them with no procedure in place?

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Am glad you gave a clear definition of 'procedure' as am convinced we use different dictionary to PHSO. Here's theirs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOSYiT2i...

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

#lawcommipo

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

PACAC chairman Bernard Jenkin, has previously suggested that alleged government 'poodle' Sir Alex Allen investigate a sensitive matter:

:::

David Cameron’s anti-sleaze adviser is facing calls to resign for being a “poodle” in “a non-job”, after it emerged he has not yet been asked to investigate whether Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code.

Paul Flynn, an MP on the committee, last night called on Sir Alex to resign now the role of independent adviser is being sidelined once again.
“I’ve said to him I believe you’re a poodle,” he said. “The committee did not have confidence in his appointment in the first place. He is a career civil servant and is not the right person to be robustly independent. Sir Philip Mawer also was bypassed in the Liam Fox incident.
“I do think [Sir Alex] should resign. It is a non-job. The job has got no dignity. It is not clear what the point of it is.”
Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chairman of the committee, has already called on the Prime Minister to let Sir Alex investigate what happened at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics...

Sir Alex's standards -

'The rulings are also embarrassing for the Government because the High Court concluded that evidence by the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial standards was “way below” what the public were “entitled to expect” of a senior civil servant.

Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had “lacked objectivity” and should be “roundly rejected”.

The rulings are also embarrassing for the Government because the High Court concluded that evidence by the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial standards was “way below” what the public were “entitled to expect” of a senior civil servant.

Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had “lacked objectivity” and should be “roundly rejected”.

Sir Alex Allan’s arguments for ministerial privacy were rejected by the judges
The judge also accused Sir Alex of demonstrating a “determination to avoid directly conceding the indefensibility of things he had said” and a “keenness to repeat generalised lines… rather than give direct answers to questions”. He said the evidence was a “reminder of the secretive culture of the public service” that the Freedom of Information Act was meant “to change for good”.

The Government had been attempting to overturn a ruling by the Information Commissioner that the contents of official ministerial diaries should be exempt from requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/pol...

::::

And alleged to be happy to just 'accept an explanation' as a poodle - from another female (appointed by the government) - to be investigated.

As for Sir Alex, if he has any self-respect, he must surely have had enough. He is on the record, in evidence to a select committee a couple of months ago, saying that he could not continue in his role if he believed he was being improperly sidelined or used as a poodle. How can he now think anything else? The prime minister has not only sidelined him over the Hunt case, he also clearly assumes the "independent adviser" will be a poodle in the Warsi case.

The prime minister has already publicly announced what he expects Sir Alex to conclude. "I'm very happy with the explanation which she's given," says Mr Cameron. All he wants from Sir Alex is "to see if there are any loose ends which need to be picked up. It's no more than that".

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre...

:::

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Public interest disclosure/no disclosure

Thus, for example, there is a public interest in transparency and accountability, to promote public understanding and to safeguard democratic processes.

There is a public interest in good decision-making by public bodies,

in upholding standards of integrity,

in ensuring justice and fair treatment for all,

in securing the best use of public resources

and in ensuring fair commercial competition in a mixed economy.

This is not a complete list; the public interest can take many forms.

Against :

However, these examples of the public interest do not in themselves automatically mean that information should be disclosed or withheld.

For example, an informed and involved public helps to promote good decision making by public bodies,

but those bodies may also need space and time in which to fully consider their policy options,

to enable them to reach an impartial and appropriate decision, away from public interference.

Revealing information about wrongdoing may help the course of justice, but investigations into wrongdoing may need confidentiality to be effective. This suggests that in each case, the public interest test involves identifying the appropriate public interests and assessing the extent to which they are served by disclosure or by maintaining an exemption.

https://ico.org.uk/media/1183/the_public...

:::

The 'appropriate decision' of the appointment of Sir Alex Allen has been taken .....and his report made public.
Any association with this investigation us ended.

The public interest is therefore weighted for disclosure, as public apointments should be open and transparent after the event, no matter what the conclusion if the investigation, unless criminal proceedings are underway.

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear JT Oakley

 

Your information request (FDN-259133)

 

We wanted to write to let you know that information relating to the
appointment of Sir Alex Allan has been published on PHSO’s new website at
the following link:

 

[1]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/news-and-bl...

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

 

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #336729 email]]
Sent: 02 August 2016 21:17
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Procedures
used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's
actions and procedures

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'Procedures used by the
PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and
procedures'.

The procedures used to appoint Sir  Alex Allen are seperate - and pre-date
his review of the Ombudsman's  actions and procedures. Therefore there is
no reason to withold the information since it is not part  if his eventual
report.

Therefore the information should be made publically available as it is in
the public  interest to know why Sir Alex Allen was chosen from the wide
field of possible reviewers - since public money is being spent to
undertake the review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

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Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
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For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
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Dear InformationRights,

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

Informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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phsothefacts Pressure Group left an annotation ()

Well done JT Oakley for dogged perseverance.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thanks but it was only made 'dogged' by the PHSO's refusal to comply to the FoiAct.

In my opinion, the rrsoinsd was a shameful avoidance of the law - in aid of reputational defence.

FOIA employees seem to think that they are working for external relations, rather than being independent of thought and action.

Nb I had to complain to the ICO before the correct legally justified esponse emerged.

And I regard this as a complete waste of my time - and disabusement of the public interest, in order to defend two PHSO senior staff, the Ombudsman and deputy - who both resigned.

::

Here's the complaint case, as presented to ICO -

My reference - Procedures used by the PHSO board to appoint Sir Alex Allan to review the Ombudsman's actions and procedures

Please only reply by email to save postal visits and the environment.

1. Details of the organisation your concern is about
Organisation:  PHSO    
Contact name:   Aimee Gasston  
Address:  
Millbank Tower, 30 Millbank, London SW1P 4QP

Postcode:  
SW1P 4QP
  
Telephone:  none provided. Request made on internet via WDTK.

Call our Customer Helpline on 0345 015 4033 from 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday

  
Email:  none provided. Request made on internet via WDTK.
    
2. Your relationship with the organisation
     
Member of the public
3. What is your concern?

Your information request – our case reference: FDN-259133

Please note - 2 link references to WDTK

Request:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

::::

Review:
Dear J T Oakley

Your information request (FDN-259133)

Thank you for your further emails. We have not yet published the
information you have requested but we will let you know when it is
available.

Yours sincerely

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [2][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

Follow us on

[3]fb [4]twitter [5]linkedin

:::::

From: Jt Oakley [mailto:[FOI #348202 email]]
Sent: 25 September 2016 20:02
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Sir Alex
Allen's review(Review has a different title- but the same reference)

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

You state:

'We are planning to publish not only a copy of the review but all relevant
documentation later this year. Therefore this information is exempt under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is the exemption for information which was intended for publication at the time the request was made'.

:::

The requested data was on file at the time of the request and the S22
means that response has been held in abeyance - until the report
published.

It has:

[6]http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

As such, S22 no longer applies to the requested data.

Please provide the response.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

show quoted sections

::::

Dear J T Oakley

Your information request (FDN-259133)

Thank you for your further emails. We have not yet published the
information you have requested but we will let you know when it is
available.

Yours sincerely

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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

Review:

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

::::

Argument:
Section 22 is mainly used when data can be changed before publication. This is to safeguard the public before decisions have been made.

In this case the appointment proceedings of Sir Alex Allen cannot be changed - because he had been appointed, made his report and the Ombudsman has resigned, as a result.

It was already ended and on file - when I made the request.

He is therefore no longer in the employ of the PHSO and his recruitment procedure lies on file ....and cannot be changed.

:::

It should be made available in the public interest, -and also due the Sir Alex Allen's background and criticism of his substandard evidence and judgement in the high court.

Section 22

 Section 22 provides an exemption for information that is intended to be published in the future.

 Information is exempt if, at the time when the public authority receives a request for it:

o the public authority holds the requested information;
o the public authority intends the information to be published

at some future date, whether that date is determined or

not; and
o in all the circumstances it is reasonable to withhold the

information until its planned publication.

 It is a qualified exemption and therefore public authorities must consider whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption is greater than the public interest in disclosing the requested information

 The duty to confirm or deny whether information is held does not apply where to do so would disclose information that would be exempt under section 22.

 The duty to confirm or deny is subject to a public interest test.

What is the 'qualification' for withholding this information?

None is given.

Therefore the criteria used for withholding this information using S22 has not been followed.

https://ico.org.uk/media/1172/informatio...

:::

Background information:

Sir Alex Allen's report:

http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/asset...

Dame Julie Mellor's subsequent resignation:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/da...

Something else. Please give details.
     
Please send us copies of relevant documents that support your concern.

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

Review:

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

4. What have you done to raise your concern with the organisation?
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Review:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing how you raised your concern with the organisation.

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

Review:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
5. What did the organisation say?

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

Review:

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

     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing the organisation’s response to your concern.
6. Reference number

Your information request – our case reference: FDN-259133

Review: FDN-259133

Please tell us any reference number that the organisation has given you, eg account number, policy number etc.

As above.

:::

Argument:

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Dear InformationRights,

I note the Review that you have made of this request, maintaining the position that although the documents requested are associated with Sir Alex Allen's report, the PHSO has still chosen to withhold them for future publication.

However, is the PHSO now stating that ALL information that has 'not been published' is NOT subject to FoIA requests?

Because I'm sure there is lots of internal data that has not been published. And could therefore be withheld - on a section 22 basis - without any logical justification ..with the excuse that it 'might' be published at some future date.

Therefore why is Section 22 being applied on this basis?

Without a justified reason for such secrecy, since Sir Alex has made his decision?

:::

Or is the PHSO's justification that any data to do with Dame Julie Mellor and Mick Martin's embarrassing resignations should now be withheld - by virtue of S22?

I would argue that it is in the public interest that the PHSO should not abuse S22 ( primarily applied because data could be open to reinterpretation before publication) and publish the information forthwith.

Indeed the suspicion of the public would be that the PHSO waiting to 'publish' the information of how Sir Alex Allen was chosen to investigate Dame Julie Mellor, until after she is 'off the premises' not because the process of choosing Sir Alex Allen can be changed - after he has reported and finished his work.

Because if Section 22 is the only section applied, then I will refer it to the ICO in order to decide if it is only sheer embarrassment as to the selection of a man described as ' a government poodle' that is driving the withholding of this information by applying Section 22 wrongfully.

The extra argument being that since the PHSO has confidently stated it will be 'open and transparent ' about the proceedings, then it cannot rely on Section 22 for 'future publication' of 'associated documents' of the investigation - once the proceeding has finished.

Indeed why would this aspect of the ended proceedings be the ONLY data withheld for future publication - if his selection went through a proper process?

Surely the PHSO would wish to demonstrate its integrity in the matter, rather than refusing to provide the appointment data- Leaving it open to accusations of yet another cover-up?

:::

The fact that Sir Alex Allen has been described in court as not being impartial is a justified reason for requesting information on his selection to undertake the task.

'Mr Justice Charles said the testimony of Sir Alex Allan, a former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, had “lacked objectivity” and should be “roundly rejected”.

The rulings are also embarrassing for the Government because the High Court concluded that evidence by the Prime Minister’s adviser on ministerial standards was “way below” what the public were “entitled to expect” of a senior civil servant.

:::

I would be obliged PHSO employees would refrain from telling the ICO that it is 'not in their remit' to investigate complainants' statements again.

I'm sure that you will recall the outcome of the court case - in which the Tribunal found that it was within the remit of the ICO to test complainants statements ....and the consequent verdict upheld against the PHSO's substandard handling of the request.

Which could be said to match the description of Sir Alex Allen's substandard evidence in the High Court above.

The request will therefore proceed to the ICO.

http://informationrights.decisions.tribu... name redacted]%20EA.2014.0093%20(19.01.2015)%20.pdf

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