CORNWALL COUNCIL ADMITS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFUSAL WAS WRONG.

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From: Geoff McLaughlin

7 August 2015

Dear Cornwall Council

Dear Mr Simon Mansell MBE

I refer to your email dated 4 August 2015 regarding an Internal
review of case number IAR-101002188636 under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

I acknowledge the Council’s acceptance that it’s reasons for
refusing the above FOI request was wrong.

I further acknowledge the Council’s reasons for refusing the FOI
review.

Whilst I disagree with the Council ‘moving the goal post’ so to
speak, I welcome the further opportunity to put the record
straight.

With regard to (Unreasonable persistence) – I do not recall my FOI
request referring to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), and find
it’s introduction by the Council, to avoid answering my request and
review, as unhelpful. Unhelpful in the same way the Council would
find it unhelpful if I introduced issues into the FOI review that
were not mentioned in the original FOI request.

I am also bound to say that had the LGO spent less time determining
welfare and medical issues than investigating actual
maladministration by Cornwall Council the complaint may actually
have been resolved.

For the record, one of the biggest problems when the LGO applied
absolute discretion to protect Cornwall Council, and as a
consequence the NHS Trust also, was that serious allegations were
not investigated or resolved properly or in the best interest of
the public. As a result I have had to continue gathering evidence
which the Council and others would prefer to remain buried.

It is generally accepted today that most of the so called
independent public advocates set up by government to protect the
public interest are now only protecting local government bodies and
central government from failures resulting from negligence,
corruption and austerity.

Even Parliament has accepted something needs to be done about this
continuing injustice but has no great desire to change something
which makes central and local government bodies appear more
competent and less negligent and corrupt.

I am reminded of the following quote which I understand was made in
Parliament and which sums up the current state of affairs with
regards to the LGO, who “Operate the most perverse and publicly
criticised system of administrative justice in the world”, unquote.

An even greater problem for Parliament to address is what happens
when you have more than one public body colluding with one another
and relying on the fact that no individual Ombudsman can
investigate them both, or would want to be seen to contradict,
challenge or over-turn a decision made by a fellow Ombudsman.

Precisely why I am seeking an Enquiry and which appears to have
been somewhat delayed until after out-going Council CEO Andrew Kerr
had packed his bags.

So you see Mr Mansell when the LGO applied absolute discretion to
protect the Council, and as a consequence the NHS Trust also, the
LGO failed to resolve anything. That the Council and the NHS Trust
benefited from cheating in the same way some athletes win medals.

That the LGO did not even have the decency or professional
correctness to provide me with a copy of the Council’s reply to my
complaint until after the LGO had ruled in the Council’s favour.
How unfair, perverse and unjust was that.

Since the Council has seen fit to introduce the LGO I feel it more
relevant and appropriate to introduce the Parliamentary Health
Service Ombudsman (PHSO) who provided some of the evidence directly
associated with my FOI request, and who unwittingly contradicted a
number of statements made by the Council. I refer to the Council’s
written advice to me that (cannot be named for legal reasons) was a “Community Psychiatric Nurse”, was a “representative” from the “Mental Health team”, and
who had authority to sign himself as the “Mental Health Team
Representative” on the Council’s official Welfare Assessment Panel
Form.

You will recall Mr Mansell it was the NHS Trust who explained to
the PHSO in 2014 that the NHS Trust provided the Council with a
‘support worker’ only and “although he was employed by the Trust,
he was not acting in an NHS capacity whilst he was a Panel member”,
unquote.

Bizarrely the PHSO was not curious to know in what capacity the NHS
Trust employed ‘support worker’ was acting whilst he was a Panel
member, and neither the Council or the NHS Trust have shown any
willingness to clarify this issue since 2012, and as demonstrated
once again in reply the above FOI request and review.

To limit the damage caused by the PHSO’s shared information the
PHSO then bizarrely decided not to accept my complaint against the
NHS Trust on the grounds the complaint was not about ‘care’
provided by the NHS Trust. I believe this was a willful attempt by
the PHSO to protect the NHS Trust, to protect and avoid having to
contradict the LGO, and to protect and avoid having to contradict
the Council further.

That although the PHSO was fully aware my late wife had recognised
mental disorders going back 30 years and lived alone so came under
the ‘care and support’ umbrella of the NHS Trust since 2002, and
that her mental health was known to be deteriorating and that she
was more isolated in her home because the Trust had reduced her
weekly attendances to the mental health day-centre she had attended
for some 20 years, the PHSO could find nothing wrong in how the NHS
Trust abused and witheld the care and support my late wife should
have received from the NHS Trust prior to the Welfare Priority
Assessments, during the Welfare Priority Assessments, and up until
she died the following year. That in some way the NHS Trust had no
‘Duty of Care’ to my late wife whatsoever.

When Council employees Jon Warner, Cornwall Council Homechoice
Representative, and Angela White, Occupational Therapist, Cornwall
Council, were made fully aware of the above information in July
2012, I assume this is when the Council decided to protect it’s
partner the NHS Trust rather than properly address my late wife’s
Welfare and Medical needs. I believe this contributed to my late
wife’s death because her deteriorating mental health remained
unaddressed and cancer was not discovered until it was too late in
May 2013.

It does not require any degree of rocket science to work out that
the Council and the NHS Trust have been willfuly abusing and
discriminating against the mentally ill and the vulnerable at
Cornwall Homechoice Welfare Priority Assessments, and have been
willfuly blind to Council Policies and procedures. The only real
question is how many victims there are, apart from my late wife,
and over what period of time the abuse and discrimination of the
mentally ill and the vulnerable has been going on.

This is also the case with regard to the Council and Sanctuary
Housing willfuly and unlawfully ‘ringfencing’ Homechoice properties
advertised without a preference and deceiving the public as a
result. Another issue the LGO failed to investigate properly or in
the public interest.

I suspect it is now only a matter of time before the independence
and integrity of the ICO is also threatened.

With regard to (Personal Grudges) – I refer you to the explanation
above. I would only add that the sooner the Council acts upon it’s
Letter of Defamation the better. I can think of nothing more
insulting to the employees concerned than having an employer who
threatens legal action but has no intention of acting upon it or
defending their reputations.

Equally I can think of nothing more offensive than employees who
have knowingly put themselves and their careers before the health
and well being of the mentally ill and the vulnerable, despite
their individual and collective ‘Duty of Care’ to them.

Before continuing would you please confirm if the Council is now
claiming (cannot be named for legal reasons) was an employee of the Council and not the NHS Trust. You have twice referred to “7 Council employees”.

With regard to (Unfounded Accusations) – I refer you to the
explanation above. The Council’s decision not to answer
questions/requests does not make an accusation unfounded. If the
Council continues not to answer questions/requests the only likely
outcome will be the Council will itself substantiate the
accusations. The Council should stop wasting time and public money
smearing my character as ‘vexatious’ and prove my accusations
unfounded.

With regard to (Deliberate intention) to cause annoyance – I refer
you to the explanation above.

In conclusion therefore, I have determined your reasons for
refusing the review and have rejected them for the reasons set out
above.

I will inform the ICO.

Yours faithfully

Geoff McLaughlin

To read the actual FOI request and replies please click on the follow link   via

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