Qualified Persons -Parliamentary Health and Services Ombudsman

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Cabinet Office

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

The request was successful.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

Dear Cabinet Office,

Please supply the appointment letters of all PHSOmbudsman qualified persons .....following on from QP Ombudsman (Dame Julie Mellor) and the Post of Senior information Risk Officer (Steve Brown), dated April 14 2014.

Dear Dame Julie,
14 April 2014
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000: APPOINTMENT OF QUALIFIED PERSON
I am writing pursuant to the powers in section 36(5) and (6) of the Freedom of Information Act to appoint a ‘qualified person’ in relation to information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
I can confirm that the person holding the office of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and (effective from the date of this letter) the person holding the office of Senior Information Risk Officer at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are qualified persons for the purposes of section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act in relation to information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
Yours sincerely,

FRANCIS MAUDE

:::

Request Title/summary within scope.
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,

[Name Removed]

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

FOI Team Mailbox, Cabinet Office

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  FOI323754

Dear JT OAKLEY

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received
on 31/10/2016 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

 Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][E-bost cais Cabinet Office]

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[cyfeiriad ebost]

FOI Team Mailbox, Cabinet Office

1 Attachment

Please find attached the reply to your FOI request

 

 

 

Regards

 

 

FOI Team

Room 405

70 Whitehall,

London, SW1A 2AS

E-mail -[1][Cabinet Office request email] 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Thank you.

From your response, I understand that a PHSO QP is a specific job designation, rather than a named person.

Could you confirm that this is the case?

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

FOI Team Mailbox, Cabinet Office

That is correct. 
Sam Todd 
Head of FOI
Cabinet Office

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Thank you.

My understanding is now that if the specific job title is changed, then a new QP would have to be appointed.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

navartne left an annotation ()

@JTOakley,

Cabinet Office has decided to put the received date as 31 October when you had sent in the request the previous day (30 October).

It's just that I've noticed other requests where the cabinet office has put the ACTUAL date of receipt as the received date:

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

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

The FOIA says:

"“the date of receipt” means—
(a) the day on which the public authority receives the request for information"

No real dramas here as this request was responded to within 20 working days, but there's tons of requests which are replied to on the 20th working day or after. I get the feeling that some staff members sending acknowledgements don't understand it's the date of receipt of the email that counts for FOI, not the date when they reply. Or the Cabinet Office is trying to cut a few corners by forward dating some requests when acknowledging them, or relying on backdating some replies. (putting a past date on the response letters)

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

Thank you navartne ,

I will bear it in mind.

:::

Perhaps you have noticed the strange wording on the Cabinet Office response letter.

In effect nobody from the CO had signed off the new ombudsman as a QP, when the PHSO changed title With the ombudsman changing job title and a new committee set up.

So the new ombudsman had apparently signed requests as a QP - without being formally appointed by the CO.

The CO maintained there was an 'original' QP letter sent Dame Julie Mellor - but seemingly could never lay its hands on it. All it could offer was the 'copy' above. Which you can see in the fudged response..... Where the ombudsman's name and job title is slipped in with a second appointment.

Anyone watching 'Yes Minister' will recognise and appreciate the lengths that public offices will go to to 'support' each other. If it wasn't so annoying to have to go round and round trying to get the mysterious 'original letter' via FOIA -it would have been funny,

navartne left an annotation ()

Great. We've still got someone who's resigned their post (for "mistakes" not to be taken lightly) making decisions as the qualified person.

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Probably serve everyone well if a person from the Clapham omnibus is nominated as the qualified person.

BTW: See: https://ico.org.uk/media/1175/section_36...

Para "13. The public authority cannot choose the qualified person themselves;...."

The ICO decision ref: fs_50535588, says:

"The PHSO said that it has recently sought certification from the Cabinet Office for an additional ‘qualified person’. It said this was so it could ensure that in the absence of the Ombudsman, decisions in respect of this exemption could still be taken without delay. The PHSO received a letter from Francis Maude MP on 14 April 2014, confirming the Ombudsman as the qualified person and also sanctioning the person holding the office of Senior Information Risk Officer (SIRO) to act as the qualified person. A copy of this letter was provided to the Commissioner. It said that currently the role of SIRO is held by the PHSO’s Managing Director. "

But the ICO document I quoted earlier says the public authority cannot choose the qualified person themselves... did they "seek certification" or chose.

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

Navartne -

This was the original final request signed of by Dame Julie Mellor as the QP.

Note the date:

Jt Oakley 7 December 2013
Delivered

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,
Please supply the minutes if these meetings
· Bernard Jenkin, Chair of PASC, quarterly meetings on 10 October 
and 27 November.
·
Yours faithfully,
Jt Oakley

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

:::

I asked for her appointment letter - but the Cabinet office strangely couldn't provide it. With a string of the usual excuses.

NB Most amusing of all was that it never received WDTK the request -which was disproved by WDTK

Well done WDTK!..... Still appreciated.

.....Just look at this ridiculous FOIA marathon with the Cabinet Office stating:

1. It had never received the WDTK request.

2. It was far too much work to go through the files for two appointment appointment letters
( NB request only pertains to 2 ombudsman as it's turkey changed to PHSO )

3. It gave no S16 help and advice on narrowing the request.

4. .....Even when I clarified to give the Cabinet Office help and advice that it was only two appointing letters that I wanted to read.

5. ... It ignored this clarification -and continued on its merry denial way

6. The ICO wasn't much use either. Desoite the Cabinet Office not sticking to the FOIA time constraints.

.......Just think of the public money wasted by these time wasting contrivances.

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

:::

Dame Julie Mellor didn't receive her QP letter until April 2014. Which meant the Cabinet Office had to fudge the appointment letter by wording it - as if there was a previous letter. (The one that couldn't be provided).

Because - instead of owning up and apologising - it was the usual PHSO stance -'We never make mistakes'...which you get heartily sick of ....before it drives you to the point of a Judicial Review.

Then a reluctant apology is made.

:::

The initial request wasn't worth pursuing and wasting government time, let alone mine - as events moved on.

But it is a fine demonstration of exactly how the things work between the Cabinet Office and the PHSO.
-and the ICO.

navartne left an annotation ()

JTO:

Did see that CO didn't respond to your request made back in June 2015. ( https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...) After you
complained to the ICO, and the CO figuring out that the Dame Julie Mellor appointment letter was already in your possession, they did a fast one by sending you a copy ( https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...) saying the following:

"Section 21 (information already available) applies, but for ease I am enclosing a further copy."

::

I'm sure you've come across: http://informationrights.decisions.tribu...

With your request, looks like CO and PHSO "worked together" to prevent a repeat of the above, if they didn't, ICO would attract a raft of complaints under s.36 (2)(5)(6).

::

Probably worth asking for a copy of the PHSO letter/email to CO, "seeking certification". Maybe they filled a form. The ICO decision is somewhat vague, "PHSO said that it has recently sought certification...", is suffice to say, not concrete.

If PHSO or CO, can pull a rabbit out of the bag and produce this "seeking certification" letter/email, at least this time may be they can avoid basic errors like calling a class of persons, the person. (as opposed to "any person", I guess they can't say that, because that's vague too).

ICO guidelines clearly says the role may not be delegated. What the PHSO has done is assigned the risk officer role to another officer (to the Managing Director..If I remember correctly), thereby (in effect) delegating. If this was allowed, they could pretty much assign the risk officer role to any person in the organisation thereby making the whole nomination procedure moot.

::

BTW: CO should take note that proper QP nomination letters look like this:

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

::

I see that you never did get a reply to your follow-up request made to the MOJ:

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

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

Yes - I never got a reply because the MOJ insisted that I had not made an FOIA enquiry -but a 'clarification'

It response states: 'Thank you for your email. Your query has not been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) as you are asking for clarification rather than recorded information' .

A clarification of what ...I never found out. But, again, it typifies the way requests are answered when one government authority defends a botch up by another.

::::

The central point was is that there is no longer a dated list of QP's anywhere.

THE MoJ, the ICO or even the Cabinet Office -of its own correctly appointed QP's.

There was a dated list ..but now there is open scope for authorities to claim they have the correct paperwork -but mysteriously can't find it. Which it seems the Cabinet Office was doing to protect the PHSO.

Therefore the ICO just accepts the argument that the QP paperwork is all in place and throws out any QP dependent request, without establishing that the QP is, in fact, an appointed QP.

::::

But as you know, the PHSO investigates the ICO.

And the ICO seems almost craven in the way it accepts evidence from the PHSO and not the complainant.

In fact in my case a PHSO senior officer told the ICO that it had

1. 'No remit' to investigate the evidence I had given as a complainant (it does- it just didn't bother to )
2. that I had made 'over 100 FOIA requests'

Entirely alse and the PHSO's vex evidential case collapsed when it could only provide '50 samples' .... there were actually about 32 - clarifications were counted as requests to bump up the number..

The Reason why I'd had to make 32 requests was to find an officer senior enough to understand my complaint -against the ICO, with the PHSO having botched it up.

( Eventually external investigator upheld my complaint about the botch up .....and I was awarded an apology and £500).

Which left me with his report, which I presented in court. And which overturned the trumped up vex.

The ICO didn't attend and the PHSO refused to ..which led to the court's critical comments about the way the PHSO FOIA staff had handled the erroneously vexed request.

The PHSO still refuses to admit the FOIA team had threatened and misinformed. Simply to win the case.

It states that as I'd won my case in court, the bogus 'evidence' given to the ICO and the way in which it conducted itself by informing it that it had no remit to investigate my evidence was perfectly fine.

So what can I do? A throughly self-regarding organisation where the normal rules of government business don't apply and whose ombudsman and deputy have had to resign on the back of it arrogant denial of fact.

:::::

As for who is the QP, it was Steve Brown.. who has now moved off to another position in another directorate.( not Mick Martin the resigning sex-text Tribunal case deputy).

He is now in the finance department as 'Head of Risk & Assurance' but no longer reviewing information requests.

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

But as reviewer Steve Brown provably just accepted what the head of FOIA told him to write in his 'totally independent review', maybe that isn't exactly a bad thing.

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

::

The legal department, which I was informed doesn't have a QP, reviews requests.

NB As you will know, it is the EXACT job title to which QP is conferred, not the person. QP was conferred on the 'Senior INFORMATION Risk Officer'.

The Cabinet Office states:

'I can confirm that the person holding the office of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and (effective from the date of this letter) the person holding the office of Senior Information Risk Officer at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are qualified persons for the purposes of section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act in relation to information held by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman'.

:
From the latest 'family tree'- there doesn't now appear to be a Senior Information Risk Officer.

:::

So you are right , only the ombudsman, ( as a QP job description) who resigned after the Alex Allen critical report,- after being 'outed' by the press for ignoring her deputy's role in the sex-text case - is left as a QP, signing off FOIA requests as a 'proper person' - who can weigh up 'public interest' of a FOIA request as 'Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs (section 36)'