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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS made this Freedom of Information request to Local Government Ombudsmen

The request was partially successful.

From: Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

24 July 2008

Dear Sir or Madam,

Between 1989 and 1995 there were about 520 findings of
maladministration causing injustice against the Hackney Council
Complaints System.

Jerry WHITE (one of the current Local Government Ombudsmen) was
responsible as Head of Paid Service of Hackney for the
administration of this service.

In about 1996 with the most exemplary record for administering a
Council Complaints system in the Country (highest number of
findings of maladministration causing injustice) Jerry WHITE was
recommended for appointment to the position of Local Government
Ombudsman by the Secretary of State and their department (now
Communities and Local Government), a position that he accepted from
the crown.

How many similar cases to those where the LGO identified
maladministration and injustice caused by Hackney (between 1989 and
1995) has Jerry WHITE identified as being maladministration and
injustice, and what proportion of the cases submitted to Jerry
WHITE are similar to those where the complaints system he was
responsible for administering was identified to have failed.

Finally do the Commission for Local Administration England (CLAE)
monitor the decisions of Local Government Ombudsmen ['LGO'] against
the findings against them whilst former Chief Executives of Local
Authorities. To ensure that the discretion as to what
maladministration is is not subverted by current incumbents of the
position.

There can no doubt that Jerry WHITE on about 520 different
occasions did not consider Hackney had committed maladministration
causing injustice as a Chief Executive with a responsibility for a
Council Complaints System, and that the then LGO had to correct his
understanding as to what maladministration causing injustice
actually was.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart HARDWICKE CARRUTHERS

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From: Hilary Pook
Local Government Ombudsmen

28 July 2008

Dear Mr Hardwicke Carruthers

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email request, received on
Thursday 24 July.

I will respond to this as soon as possible. I will aim to reply within
the 20-working day target (which would be by 21 August). If I am unable
to do so, I will write to you again explaining why.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager
Local Government Ombudsman's Office
Tel: 020 7217 4734
www.lgo.org.uk

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of
the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error
please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

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From: Hilary Pook
Local Government Ombudsmen

6 August 2008


Attachment CS 08 0028 Hardwicke Carruthers.doc
41K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Hardwicke Carruthers

Please find attached a letter in reply to the request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager
Local Government Ombudsman's Office
Tel: 020 7217 4734
www.lgo.org.uk

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of
the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error
please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

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From: Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

6 August 2008

Dear Hilary Pook,

Many thanks for your reply (your ref: CS/08/0028/HJP), that nearly
answers the question. I understand that Mr WHITE is on record as
stating that a local settlement is a finding of maladministration
causing injustice. The only difference is that the Local Authority
agrees to settle without a formal report being issued by the
Ombudsman. I believe that you are confused that a formal report
identifying maladministration causing injustice is the only
measure. The actual measure is MI (maladministration and injustice
report) + LS (Local settlement) = total number of findings of
maladministration causing injustice.

Could you clarify if my understanding is correct (it is based on
the Ombudsman's assurances) and that the actual number of findings
of maladministration causing injustice against the complaints
system that Jerry WHITE was responsible for administering between
1988 and 1995 was in fact about 520 (and that following the
Ombudsman's investigation about 430 were identified as being
indefensible by the Hackney Council executive).

I believe that you will find that about 94 formal reports were
issued by the Ombudsman in the period. This as you are aware is
very different to a finding of maladministration causing injustice.
Please identify if there were in fact about 520 findings of
maladministration causing injustice at Hackney whilst Jerry WHITE
was its Chief Executive.

Would you please identify if my understanding is correct. This
issue I believe is of interest to a large number of Council's as on
the Ombudsman's own assertions their Local Performance Indicators
are flawed. I would not dream of questioning an Ombudsman's
discretion in determining what maladministration and injustice is.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart HARDWICKE CARRUTHERS

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From: Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

5 September 2008

Dear Hilary POOK,

There appears to have been changes in government guidance in
relation to records related to complaints (Public Record Office).

A number of Council's are now identifying that a complaint is only
an Enquiry (and that records only need to be retained for three
years) even if the Ombudsmen identify that there should be a local
settlement - following an investigation (and this is agreed by a
Council). In other cases the LGO makes a discretionary decision to
discontinue an investigation (often following an investigation).
Council's are also identifying that complaints to the LGO and
identified as premature are also only enquiries.

Complaint files that have been subject to an investigation are
expected to be kept open and be easily accessible for at least ten
years according to Government guidance. Statistical files for five
years , registers of complaints for 10 years, and all reviews of
complaints for 10 years.

Only the Ombudsman is able to determine what maladministration is
and if a complaint of maladministration resulting in a local
settlement is a valid complaint or merely an enquiry. Jerry WHITE I
think is the only LGO who was appointed prior to the FoI Act (and
whose decisions consequently will not be coloured by being
responsible for its administration), and as such the Hackney record
was used to illustrate the point.

There is a need to know if a complaint settled by a Council and in
which an LGO has been involved is a finding of maladministration
and injustice against a Council in the opinion of the Ombudsmen or
merely an enquiry. This has no bearing on what the Ombudsman might
consider to be maladministration (valid complaint to themselves).
It does provide clarification if Council's are breeching FoI by not
maintaining their records. It would appear that a number of
Council's are also identifying that their statistical files are
merely enquiries as well.

It is understood that this confusion (on behalf of Council's)
causes significant work for both the Information Commissioner and
the Ombudsmen as people who believe that they have had a valid
complaint against a Council are unable to access the information
that they believe should be held.

Internal review on this issue is requested - as it is believed to
be a question that only the LGO's themselves can answer. The
legislation appears to indicate that any issue that the LGO is
requested to investigate should be treated as a complaint by both
the LGO and a Council (against home complaint has been brought),
and that Council's should not be treating these as enquiries as
part of their record management systems.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS left an annotation ( 5 September 2008)

Quote-marks Request for internal review

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From: Hilary Pook
Local Government Ombudsmen

8 September 2008


Attachment CS 08 0058 Hardwicke Carruthers.doc
39K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Hardwicke Carruthers

I attach a letter in response to the request below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager
Local Government Ombudsman's Office
Tel: 020 7217 4734
www.lgo.org.uk

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of
the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error
please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

show quoted sections

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From: Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

8 September 2008

Dear Hilary Pook,

Many thanks for your reply. I recognise that the request is
unusual. However, this is because the position of the Ombudsmen is
unique, effectively they are a biological recording device. The
Ombudsmen themselves [as a function] maintain the record, and
determine what maladministration actually is.

The issue is simple. There is a need to know if a complaint settled
by a Council and in which an LGO has been involved is a finding of
maladministration and injustice against a Council in the opinion
[recording and processing of the facts] of the Ombudsmen or merely
an enquiry [as based on their biological recording of the facts,
and a decision made on the biological processing of the facts by
the Ombudsman as a function rather than a person], and taking into
account that a Council as part of local settlement normally
apologies, provides compensation, etc.

i.e. is a local settlement [where the council apologises, provides
compensation, changes procedures, etc.] an admission of
maladministration and injustice by a Council that does not require
the LGO to issue a formal report still maladministration. A
complainant is required to apply to the Ombudsman for a
determination... following a failure in a Council's complaints
process... Is a local settlement still maladministration causing
injustice.. as recorded and processed by the Ombudsmen themselves ?

Council's will and can determine the meaning and contents of an
Ombudsman's annual letter or correspondence as they choose. It is
not necessarily correct.. as only the Ombudsman themselves as a
function are able to determine what maladministration actually is..

Internal review on this request is requested.. and it relates to if
information recorded and processed by an Ombudsman themselves [as a
function] that determines the format of other records is itself a
record.

Effectively is a local settlement a finding of maladministration or
not?

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers

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From: Hilary Pook
Local Government Ombudsmen

29 September 2008


Attachment CS 08 0058 Hardwicke Carruthers2.doc
39K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Hardwicke Carruthers

Please find attached a letter in response to your message below.

Yours sincerely

Hilary Pook
Communications & Records Manager
Local Government Ombudsman's Office
Tel: 020 7217 4734
www.lgo.org.uk

NOTICE - This message contains information intended only for the use of
the addressee named above. If you have received this message in error
please advise us at once and do not make any use of the information.

show quoted sections

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