In Fraud, what fraud? part 1 we learnt that members of staff at The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) contacted me in April 2018 concerned that management at the Ombudsman’s office were condoning fraud. See extract below from Fraud, what fraud? part 1
In the last financial year (2017/18) PHSO has underspent. The issue with underspending is that previous year spending is used to calculate how much funding PHSO gets for the next year. This caused management in PHSO to panic. As a result, they promoted overtime close to the year-end (last two weeks has seen the biggest overtime promotion). Frontline staff were encouraged to claim overtime. The overtime rate for caseworkers was £45 an hour plus a bonus for doing 3.5 hours or more. That rate for a public sector organisation is criminal. In addition to this crazy overtime rate, staff were actually told to claim overtime even though they did not work. Staff were encouraged to fudge their timesheets. That is a fraud. I am sure that is illegal and can no longer watch this type of thing happening. Managers and staff in the operations team openly over claim in their time sheet to do reduced hours of work and to take extra time off in lieu, but this is taking this issue to another level.
As management were actively promoting these fraudulent overtime payments the staff members were unable to effectively raise their concerns and asked me to call for a full investigation. I tried to secure the data which would show a spike in overtime/bonus payments for the end of the financial year (2017) to support these claims, only to be told that PHSO held no records of individual payments due to outsourcing to a third (private) party. Accusations of fraudulent payments and lax record keeping were, in my opinion, the business of the National Audit Office (NAO)who could carry out a full investigation. However, in Fraud, what fraud -part 2 we learnt that remarkably the NAO were unable to investigate without the agreement of PHSO and that was hardly likely to happen.
I was hoping that the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) would pick up on this whistleblower claim of fraudulent spending in their annual scrutiny meeting with PHSO. I submitted evidence to the committee in December 2018 who had a focus on ‘value for money’ yet no questions were asked of the Ombudsman, Rob Behrens or the CEO Amanda Campbell. You can read the details here: Fraud, what fraud – part 3
I now had only one option left. A report to Action Fraud as recommended by the NAO who considered this to be the ‘appropriate authority’ for my concerns. From the Action Fraud website it did not appear that this was the most obvious place for an accusation of institutional fraud committed by a public body.
We provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime. People are scammed, ripped off or conned everyday and we want this to stop.
The service is run by the City of London Police working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who are responsible for assessment of the reports and to ensure that your fraud reports reach the right place. The City of London Police is the national policing lead for economic crime.
However, given this was my only option I attempted to contact Action Fraud and share my information. I thought that email would work well as I could forward on the message I received from the whistleblowers or failing that print it out and send it by post. I was surprised to find that Action Fraud have neither an email address or a postal address. (It’s almost like they don’t want the information) You can complete an on-line form but it required that I put in the name of the person who witnessed the fraud and I did not have that name so couldn’t get past the gateway. I checked Action Fraud out on twitter and asked them if they could send me a postal address as I had information I wanted to send. They did not reply. I browsed through their site and the following comments did not give me confidence that I had finally found the organisation to take notice of these serious fraud allegations.
And indeed it turned out that Action Fraud (you can contact them by phone but be very, very patient) only take a note of your concerns and do not investigate but use the information to form a ‘picture’.
When you report to us you will receive a police crime reference number. Reports taken are passed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Action Fraud does not investigate the cases and cannot advise you on the progress of a case.
No investigation unless my information is supported by others to ‘form a picture’. I wondered why the NAO recommended such an option – didn’t they know this would happen? I had come to the end of the road.
So what is to stop PHSO management from encouraging inflated overtime payments again as the financial year draws to a close? Well, absolutely nothing. NAO office can’t investigate, PACAC are not inclined to investigate and Action Fraud, representing the police will only investigate if there is substantial evidence from a range of sources. Welcome to Great Britain – #corruptbydesign.
John – Not trying to be clever at all, hence my question to you. Which remains unanswered.
As to the legal profession, anyone who has dealt with them will tell you they thrive on shafting clients.
You are more resourceful than most, yet the system will force you to follow these different bodies. Which is time consuming and stressful. Concrete evidence is definitely necessary, however how do most people get it?
They foul on the FOI requests, so you end up chasing them via the ICO but they are advisory not regulatory. If criminal you chase the police but they’ll fob you off, because knife crime takes precedence over civil white collar misdemeanors. So the circus continues.
John – Your legal experiences seem to be quite dated, I think the legal landscape is very different today than 30 years ago.
Do enlighten us on the many ways to skin a cat.
Now you are trying to be clever.
My story of 30 years ago was to demonstrate that members of the legal profession make mistakes too.
I had a barrister struck off in 2006 for losing his court papers that he could not produce at an appeal hearing.
I am currently dealing with The Medical Defence Union in pre court proceedings against a negligent GP who I am also reporting to the GMC.
I am also currently in discussions with an NHS Trust Chief Executive office because his data protection officer cannot trace my medical records. A criminal offence if it goes to court.
I am also preparing evidence in a case against another NHS C.E.O. for maladministration in Public office.
It has been clear to me since 2015 from personal experience that the PHSO is both negligent and incompetent. It is also designed to be not accountable to anybody not even Parliament !
Without concrete irrefutable evidence there is no point in looking for help from any Government body, as they are all far too busy lining their pockets and covering up for mistakes.
There are nine ways to skin a cat I will leave it to you to work out your own method.
John, Funny that the solicitors refused to fund the organisation. Who’d have thought hey. He who pays expects to call the tune, just like the FOS.
The proof is key, I wonder what extent you had to go to get that proof.
Glad you got your comp, a big sum if it was back in the 80s.
The complaints process against solicitors is now funded by Central Government
All I did was produce all the documents provided to me by the solicitor as their client.
Their own documents proved they were negligent.
I am in the process of lodging complaints with the G.M.C. against several doctors based on the evidence provided to me by them under the 1998 Data Protection Act. and latterly GDPR.
There is more than one way to skin a cat.
As a finishing thought.. the profession was in uproar because of legal aid cuts, and end to the gravy train for barristers.
I replied but my comment has disappeared.??
CITKANE. Not litigious at all. But when I retain a professional to do work for me at considerable cost I expect them to get it right. The first organisation I had dealings with was the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. Incredibly. slow but very efficient and in fact turned down an appeal from the solicitor and increased my compensation.
I now tend to represent myself in legal proceedings and in that respect all legal officers I have cone up against do talk to me in plain English.
Judges in County Courts, most of them are not even legally qualified. . It is of course quite normal for the legal profession to dislike LIP because it is doing them out of their extortionate fees. .
I do not get stressed out over these things because I work on the basis of “don’t get mad get even ”
As a passing thought all legal aid work is paid for by the tax payer. Much of it used to line pockets of barristers. !
To John – I’ve never heard of the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. But I’m glad you got compensation against a solicitor. There used to be a site called solicitors from hell, very interesting it was.
District Judges are in County Courts and are supposed to be solicitors or barristers. It is Magistrates who are not legally trained, but they sit in Magistrate courts.
As a LIP I didn’t care what English they spoke I only resented the deliberate demonization of LIPs.
They live in a bubble where they think the law is the height of human intellectual development. It jolly well isn’t. Therefore, it is quite possible for a LIP to put forward a legally robust case, but if the system is corrupt then they will get nowhere. Just like the PHSO.
To Phsothefacts That in itself intimidates the LIP he is in the room but probably can’t fathom what’s being said. The judge could have communicated all sorts with their coded language. Do you know who won that case? They tend to conflate their archaic procedures with legal principle and case law so as to confuse LIPs.
It’s like the emperors new clothes, we’ve been brainwashed into believing how honest, robust and noble they are. No they aren’t it’s just another sham.
CITKANE. The “office for the supervision of solicitors” was set up in the 1980’s and funded by contributions from members of the Law Society.
They were very good and very thorough , but had to wind up because solicitors stopped funding the body.
I was awarded over £7.000 when I proved gross negligence. ” Proof” being the vital factor
Civil Courts are just as bad and so is the MoJ. The legal system is in meltdown. It is difficult to find a solicitor with all the cuts and no win no fee is not always available. If you find one then it’ll never be clear who they represent, other than themselves. Then the farce which is the judiciary at the lower levels they are petulant, out of touch, despots. And that is quoting the author of a book on CPR Rules, who was married to a district judge. It’s always a case of the grass is greener elsewhere. Got nowhere with Ombudsman so lets try the law. But unless you have deep pockets or are very lucky then it is not a solution for most people. And it compounds your stress.
CITKANE. Never had a problem with a civil court in my life. Either at County or High Court level.
System works pretty well providing you have all the evidence.
Have to agree that most solicitors are parasites, living off the misfortune of others.
Have taken three of them to the Law Society and won compensation every time.
Sounds like you know your way round the system and are litigious.
Interesting you reported the solicitors to the Law Society when its the SRA that deal with complaints. So you had your original issue, then got a solicitor, who scuppered you, then you complained about them. And how much time and stress did that cost you personally?
HMCTS and all courts are dreadful. Their methods are from the dark ages and their staff grossly inept. In the lower courts the Judges are ex solicitors or barristers and have little training in neutrality. They are hideously biased. However, their judgment is gospel. You can only appeal on very narrow grounds. It really isn’t much different to the way Ombudsman work. It is an industry that exists to protect its own, and interprets the law to what suits them.
As a LIP I was given utter hell, simply because at the time orders from the top were to demonise LIP’s. It was a political statement to government because legal aid was being cut for solicitors. To say oh poor us see look how hard it is for us with these stupid LIPs who don’t know what they’re doing, give us back our solicitors.
I’ve been to the High Court frequently and seen barristers totally screw over their client. Who grovel to Judges but are otherwise haughty and rude. It’s all theatre and why should it be? The law which applies to us all should be accessible to us all, without undue cost or prejudice.
I look forward to AI taking over the self important, inept legal farce.
I have to agree that the law is not on our side. I was recently in court watching an LIP and a highly paid barrister working for a publicly funded body. So in effect we were funding the defence. The judge in the case spoke mainly to the barrister in jargon and said that he had to treat the LIP as if he were a legal representative when in fact he had the discretion to do otherwise.
To John O’Brien If not giving up means we should continue banging our heads against a brick wall whilst getting nowhere, then yes give up.
The definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly whilst expecting different results.
As individuals we have just discovered the failings due to our experience. But they were set up long before our encounters. They are by design often using military strategies against the citizens.
The only thing that will help, over the very long term, is what this site does. To publish an account of what happened, for the world to see. Social media is therefore a resource that the system hasn’t warped yet. Though it soon will, as I mentioned before about how a fraud case disappeared from Google.
If we suddenly get funding and powerful support perhaps more can be done. But till that miracle occurs this approach is realistic and may make a difference, one day.
CITKANE. I stopped banging my head on a brick wall the minute PHSO double crossed me on May 2015.
The only way to deal with the problems within the NHS is to use the law against the perpetrators of errors . Ombudsmen are set up to protect the organisations involved not us the public. Civil Court is the only way to go on a no win no fee basis.
There is no money tree or philanthropist to support complaints just a system which is seriously flawed ” by design”
Because a financial company gets away with fraud, Does that mean you are going to give up. ????
They don’t want to deal with fraud. Exposing this is probably the best we can do.
If it’s not reported to the police, there will be no paper trail of the crime being documented. Even if they refuse to investigate it now, at some point it will come out that the police force failed to investigate a significant alleged crime. It could be the undoing of PHSO.
They will not do anything regardless of the evidence. Nothing must interfere with PR Britain. One financial company had significant fraud orchestrated by its MD. Did FCA do anything, no. The parent company did a private criminal prosecution. And ensured all details were wiped off from Google searches.
Companies have resources but individuals will get nowhere.
If there is evidence of fraud which can be backed up by the “wishtleblowers” the next step is the Financial Conduct Authority , who if they consider it valid would report to the CPS for prosecution.
Do you think that likely?
I wouldn’t agree. Della has had the alleged crime reported direct to her so as a citizen she has a duty to report it as a crime to be investigated. Getting the FSA involved would only muddy the waters and they are highly likely to fail to report it anyway. Each citizen has a duty to report a crime as an individual.
Whilst not a legal duty (e.g. no legal implications for Della failing to report it) there is a moral duty according to the police:
As PHSO has no morals, we are the people who are countering that by possessing morals. Therefore I say do it!
A crime has been committed. Only recourse is the police. Supposedly…
Should I go to the Met Police next?
That would seem to be the next logical step.. But are the whistleblowers at PHSO prepared to be named and give evidence in court. ??
Probably not. I wouldn’t. And the police say they can’t investigate Phso to gain evidence.
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I would say definitely. I believe the exclusions to police investigating PHSO only apply to their casework/investigations NOT their financial conduct of staff matters such as payroll. I would say yes to report it as a crime. It is an alleged crime.
It seems like Action Fraud is a dustbin for complaints about fraud. I can see where they got they idea from although the PHSO can only dream of being an organisation that takes complaints and not only does nothing with them but doesn’t get back to the complainant at all.
Bottom line is ” public service leaders” whoever they are, do not want to know about problems with NHS services, until the there is evidence in one place which becomes so bad, that it ends up with a public enquiry with great indignation but no .long term changes in the existing system
“Action fraud ” is a great idea but scams and frauds are so widespread these days that the Met Police could not possibly cope with the volume .
So far this year I have reported 18 different attempts to scam me by hacking my computer.
We just have to keep trying to get somebody held to account for what can only be described as a national scandal.
Having now read all the chapters it seems fraud is treated as a ‘victimless’ crime carrying little priority for officialdom. Can the Taxpayers Alliance help with exposure? In the end it is the taxpayer who pays and I cannot understand why Public Service ‘leaders’ lack the ability to get a grip
Looks like there is no place for the buck to stop in modern Britain. God help us all after Brexit when “control is taken back” and given to a group of useless politicians.