In 2013 the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) held a review into public sector complaint handling. As part of that review, Bernard Jenkin the chair held a roundtable meeting with a selection of complainants and from that meeting PHSOtheFACTS was born.
I’m sorry to say that complaint handling has not improved in the intervening years. PASC morphed into PACAC – Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Bernard Jenkin became Sir Bernard Jenkin and moved on to chair the Liaison Committee and the entire state machinery continues to use any means available to quell public complaints.
This is part three of the great VOA scam brought to light by Nigel, his wife and their neighbours. You can read part one here and part two here
As Nigel battled with the authorities trying to understand why they failed to acknowledge his evidence, he discovered the account of AW and I Tanner, who had previously been scammed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and suffered similar obstruction by those in authority, including the PHSO (marked in orange). They submitted their evidence to the PASC review, Complaints: do they make a difference? It is printed in full below as their account is a flawless summary of the abusive, corrupted, complaint system as it was then and as it is now.
Written evidence submitted by AW & I Tanner (COM 07)
(1) Well if you are an individual complainant, you are easily throttled by the entrenched fraudulent procedures, but if complainants form themselves into well-organised groups like the ‘Hillsborough’ and the ‘NHS’ protesters- it still takes 20 years to get a hearing-such is the power of the public sectors corrupt complaints machinery.
(2) It can be seen that Complaints only make a difference if one is prepared to sacrifice oneself in trying to obtain justice from the abusive state-machine. The ‘Hillsborough’ and ‘Mid Staffordshire Hospital’s’ aggrieved families struggled for over 20 years against the public sectors self-serving fraudulent complaint procedures, where all sorts of chicanery, like the ‘alteration of facts’ as used by NHS officials and police, helped ‘put down’ genuine complaints by bereaved families.
(3) Instead of being open and accountable, complaint procedures have been turned on their head. Instead of helping the aggrieved public, complaint procedures are often manipulated by self-serving officials who will ‘put down’ complainants and whistle-blowers without giving a damn as to the injustice of their acts.
(4) We have so many active public sector cover up routines operating against the public interest that they have become an assault on our liberties, they also curtail our justice system. Corruption within the public sector is so vast, that the normally quiet subjugated citizens are forced to protest. Citizens are becoming organized-simply because Parliamentarians have failed to protect them from despotic officialdom.
(5) Too many individual complainants are forced to give up, as they are unable to face the powerful machinery of government that spills out self-serving lies and deceits associated with complaint procedures. Once a complainant has been ‘put through the mill’ there is no one else to turn to. MPs are not interested in tackling public sector fraud.
(6) The numerous fraudulent complaint procedures are indicative of something more sinister, they cover up a multitude of entrenched public sector sins; as seen when £14million was stolen from our coffers in order to pay off NHS whistle-blowers from divulging evil and corrupt acts against many of the UKs sick and vulnerable patients.
(7) The formation of numerous well-honed cover up cultures is indicative of just how much abuse of ‘good governance’ has really taken place in the past-corruption of our democracy shows how many of us have lost our destinies to insular party hack governments.
(8) Public sector corruption is said to be the use of Public Office for private gain; this would apply to the numerous inept officials who have been promoted by top civil servants to all unearned perks and large unearned bonuses year in year out for failure. The Home Office, the UKBA the HMRC and the NHS are just a few of the failing government departments who abuse the public purse in this way.
(10) We have often claimed that the promotion if inept officials to high office is the cancer at the heart of government. The public are bemused as to how Parliamentarians allowed the self-serving ‘complaint system’ to thrive and become so entrenched. How such deliberate abuse by officials was allowed to flourish within the Mother of Parliament, destroying much ‘good governance’ at all levels. MPs should be ashamed that the complaint system had got so ‘out of hand’.
(11) It is often pointed out that “Large scale bureaucratic administration places decision makers so far from citizens that they lose sight of their public service mission, and come to focus primarily on the nourishment of their own powers as an end itself”. This is so typical of the Whitehall regime.
(12) Too many individuals with genuine complaint who try to ‘clean up’ complaint procedures suffer from accumulative years of despair, as they are eventually forced to ‘give up’ as the corrupt machine grinds them into the ground-throttled by fraudulent officials.
(13) We first suffered unjust treatment from a Revenue/VOA employee who wilfully neglected to perform her duty re our appeal and wilfully abused our rights without any justification. She ‘manufactured’ a ghost employee ‘Mrs Gupta’, and then informed us that ‘Mrs Gupta’ was looking into our appeal. 18 months later we found that ‘Mrs Gupta’ did not exist? We and our appeal were being bamboozled by contemptuous public sector corruption.
(14) We continued with the fraudulent complaint procedures and eventually faced a biased Ombudsman who took sides with the Revenue, who claimed that the manufactured ‘Mrs Gupta’ came about by a misunderstanding caused by ‘internal agency jargon’. We asked the ombudsman to resign; we were then subjected to ombudsman inspired intimidating ‘phone calls over three evenings- my wife was scared!
(15) During our years of struggle against the complaints procedures, we found the Ombudsman had exonerated the fraudulent acts by the Revenue/VOA; she also exonerated the malfunctioning ICO; while the ICO was also exonerating the Revenue/VOA. The closing-of-ranks indeed.
(16) We were at various periods ‘hung out to dry’ by the Revenue/VOA, by the Ombudsman and by the ICO, it took 2 years for the ICO to produce a biased Decision Notice that claimed several times that the Revenue/VOA were accountable, when they were clearly not. We informed PMs, Ministers, and MPs of our plight- some of our letters were sent from one department to another- the ideal way of ‘hanging out’ a complaining member of the electorate.
(17) I was hoping to question the miscreant Revenue/VOA employee at a Tribunal, but the Revenue employee who had given us so much aggro, had been hidden away behind the DPA, and was not available for questioning.
(18) What we learned as complainants was, that once you had been ‘kicked in the teeth’ by the complaints process, there was no other means of protest-the crooked procedures were the only channels open to you?
(19) In frustration we once wrote to Justice Minister Jack Straw and suggested that ‘citizens with genuine complaints against officials’ needed ‘open courts’ so they may circumnavigate the crooked complaints procedures as run by civil servants etc’. No answer.
(20) The long years of public sector deceit and fraudulence against citizens and whistle blowers with genuine grievance should have caused enormous disquiet in Parliament- but it never did.
(21) Parliament and the Cabinet Office etc were purposely remote from the crude dysfunctionality of the fraudulent machinery of government. The public sectors numerous Mafia style cover-up cultures were protected by powerful top officials who put a ‘lid’ on much public sector fraudulence.
(22) There has grown within the public sector powerful “institutionalised self-protective routines’ administered by officials who are determined to deny justice to complaining citizens. These officials have control of the complaints procedure, and wield disproportionate cover-up influence that protects even the most-vile of public sector personnel- they protect those who deny care to the sick and vulnerable- and they even give active protection to paedophiles operating within government run child-care homes.
(23) The corruption within the public sector is vast-corrupters have infiltrated the complaints system as to make it almost ‘null and void’, Hillsborough families had to fight for 23 years before they could break through the injustice barrier- the individual complainant has little or no chance of success- that’s the reality of our Orwellian self-serving complaints procedures!
In relation to the Public Administration Select Committee’s first inquiry entitled Complaints: Do they make a difference, I offer the PASC my encounters with fraudulent government complaint procedures as run by officials and civil servants etc.
Whilst the lay-out of information given here may not be precisely what the Committee is looking for; it is a true account of the gross abnormal protection given to a public sector miscreant-in short I protested at the corrupt Revenue/VAOs acts against me-and eventually faced government lawyers within a Tribunal?
We have recently asked the PM to support the National Corrupt Officials Register.
Here is my account of how citizens who use the government complaint procedures are treated. My case will help show why many complainants give up, because if one persists in tackling and exposing the often fraudulent government procedures in the hope of ‘cleaning things up’-one is in for a seriously stressful time. It often takes years of struggle against the UKs powerful and undemocratic government complaints machine as run by civil servants etc.
(1) I wrote 22nd March 2003 to the *** Revenue Valuation Office and made a Banding Appeal- what should have been a very simple procedure, something that I was entitled to? It turned out to be a revealing nightmare re public sector complaint procedure cover up. 28 March 2003 a Revenue Valuation Office official claimed by letter that our appeal was ‘out of time’ this was false (there was no time factor applicable). She also claimed that the appeal was ‘invalid’ another deception- it was a dismissive judgment. I had been to my local library re info as to Banding Appeals, I knew that she was wrong.
(2) The VOA had failed to survey the area, and without any evidence available to them as to whether we had a case or not, an official saw fit to take a belligerent stance against our simple appeal and claimed the appeal was ‘invalid’ (About two years later a VOA manager “Apologised that our property was not inspected, as an inspection should have taken place)
(3) On the 20 May 2003 realising that our appeal was being ignored we again wrote to the Southgate Revenue office and asked if someone would answer our letters. Responding to our several requests for a ‘report’ that we were entitled to; a listing officer wrote 4th June 2003 “I have read and noted your remarks, and a ‘report’ has been raised in this office. The report has been allocated to Mrs Gupta, who will be in touch. Not hearing from Mrs Gupta, we resorted to writing numerous letters asking for a copy of the Gupta Report.
(4) There was a period when this aggressive official sent us Notice of Withdrawal Forms, arrogantly requesting that we sign them, it was a blatant attempt to get us drop our appeal, and sign away our democratic right to an appeal, we refused to sign; she sent more forms to sign. She was a belligerent civil servant determined to sink our claim, we had to ask the Southgate Revenue/VOA to stop sending these request to sign Withdrawal Forms. There was a constant air of intimidation coming from these nasty public sector officials.
(5) We constantly challenged the officials claim that our appeal was ‘late’ or ‘not valid’ to no avail; some 14 months after our initial request for an appeal, we asked the VTS Tribunal to look at our case; it found; “That our proposal was valid the listing officer should have treated our appeal as valid”. We had been put through 14 months of aggravation trying to nail these Revenue/VOA lies and deceits.
(6) Instead of the Revenue/VOA accepting that they were at fault after the VTS decision in our favour, they acted as though they were ‘miffed’. We were then told by the Revenue/VOA that we would have to start the appeal proceedings all over again? Who allows such despotic civil servants to be so aggressive against citizens who have genuine complaints?
(7) I was at the time due to have 7 weeks of radiotherapy for cancer-I simply could not face ‘starting up all over again’ against corrupt Revenue VOA officialdom-I was forced to abandon my appeal that had been so fraudulently strung out. After the cancer treatment I decided that I would ‘fight back’ and help disclose the entrenched corruption that had been allowed to fester across the public sector-I was once a front-line soldier a war pensioner-I had become somewhat traumatised by the many people within the Establishment who could abuse the electorate who had genuine complaint. Shades of the ‘Balchin’s case-Hillsborough and the latest NHS abuse of power.’
(8) Some 18 months after being promised a ‘Mrs Gupta Report’, we discovered she had never existed in our case? Mrs Gupta turned out to be a ‘Ghost’ employee manufactured to help destroy our appeal! Despite our writing for months asking for copies of the Gupta report-no Revenue/VOA official had ‘let on’ that the miscreant official had demolished our appeal by handing it over to a non existent Revenue ‘ghost’ employee?)
(9) We saw this as collusive corruption by the Revenue/VOA trying to get error-strewn official ‘off the hook’. Southgate Revenue/VOA once held an ‘internal investigation’ they produced a ridiculous verdict claiming that the individual official who had given us so much aggro had acted with the ‘Best of intensions’- we saw this as the usual internal whitewash.
(10) On another occasion, Southgate Revenue/VOA, with self-protection in mind said that they did not think the actions taken against us by the official were deliberate. We claim however, that when all the wilful acts of deceit are put together they give a much clearer picture of the belligerence shown against us. The Revenue/VOAs aggression against our simple appeal could not have been ‘accidental’. The miscreant official acted with the unswerving arrogance of a contemptuous, unmanageable, yet well-protected public sector ‘loose-cannon’.
(11) Our Revenue/VOA abuser was not a gauche school-leaver prone to mistakes; but she has to be seen as an irresponsible civil servant who knew the ropes, and was well aware of the aggressive ‘corruption of good governance’ that she created.
(12) We had been force-fed a corrupt Revenue/VOA invention-a ‘Ghost’ employee-we protested the VOA then tried to claim the promised Gupta report had come about because of mistaken ‘Agency Internal Jargon’. We had chased up the promised Gupta Report during 2003/4-no one had made the excuse that the promised report came about by an accident due to ‘Agency Internal Jargon’-it was an afterthought!
(13) At a later stage the parliamentary ombudsman also ran with this flippant ‘Agency Internal Jargon’ excuse, in order to get the VOA ‘off the hook’. When we challenged the ombudsman as to the corrupt invention of the ‘ghost’ employee Mrs Gupta-she did not reply?
(14) The ombudsman had tried to cover up this corrupt ‘invention’ of the ‘ghost employee’ as though it had never happened? She claimed she had seen no evidence of fraud or corruption! The ombudsman failed to see the Revenue/VOAs utter contempt in allowing us to write for months on end asking for copies of the non-existent Gupta report- without reply! The ombudsman was purposely blind to our struggles as victims of public sector deceit- yet was prepared to state that she saw no fraud or corruption.
(15) We asked the ombudsman to resign; we were then hit by the ombudsman’s orchestrated Survey Team’s ‘evening phone calls’, asking us if we would take part in answering questions relating to a spurious ombudsman’s survey.
(16) We said no thanks to the first phone call saying that we did not want to take part! They persisted for another two evenings. We were being got at because of our call for the ombudsman to resign and our protest against public sector corruption in general. My wife became frightened as to what might happen next? A possible knock on the door?
(17) We put it to the Ombudsman that, ‘When one is asked in the street to take part in a ‘survey’ and one refuses, the person doing the survey steps aside, and let’s one walk away- they are not aggressively pursued by evening phone calls! This jackboot of an ombudsman has no respect for our human rights. We had complained about public sector corruption, and were being bullied for it!
(18) What is frightening is that the ‘corrupt machinery of government’ that gives so much ‘gold plated protection’ to uncivil servants, allows such misfits to go ‘off the rail’ and still remain safely untouchable as they abuse members of the public in such a freewheeling manner!
(19) At one stage the Revenue/VOA Executive asked us to ‘Draw a line’ under what had gone on, they were asking us to help hide their numerous fraudulent managerial shortcomings.
(20) This particular Revenue VOS official, who was supposedly in charge of our appeal, was a nasty piece of work as seen in her deliberate misuse of power, when I asked the ICO had other members of the public complained about her, she was then hidden behind the DPA.
(21) Citizens now realise just how vast public sector corruption against the individual complainant has become! We realised as whistle blowers, that once you have criticised the crooked Whitehall machine-it simply turns around and kicks you in the teeth-justice for the electorate with honest complaint is simply not on the Whitehall agenda.
(22) When one becomes a critic of governmental complaints procedures, there seems to be a ‘closing of ranks’ from all quarters, life is purposely made so complicated for critics and whistle blowers. Complainers against corrupt government procedures are seen as fair game for abuse of their democratic rights-one gets fed-up at times being ‘hung out to dry’ by all and sundry-one could explode-it’s difficult to be nice to civil servants and officials who are trying to screw you into the ground.
(23) One gets further annoyed and retaliates against the ever-more layers of incompetence and wilful neglect that becomes part of the ‘hanging out to dry’ routine; as seen in our following letter to the then seriously inept ICO. We had written to the ICO re their neglect in our case back in 2005-a year later 2006 we were complaining about the same sort of neglect?
So on the 13th Nov 2006 we wrote criticising the Information Commissioner as follows:
“On the 16th Nov 2005, a year ago we had occasion to bemoan the fact that the ICO not only failed to answer our letters (re corrupt acts against us),but failed to acknowledge that the letters had indeed been received. This of course we viewed as sheer incompetence. Now in November 2006 the same thing has happened again, we now view this second episode as pure contempt, bordering on pure fraudulence and corruption of public duty….. It may be that you have closed us down because our attitude has become hardened from years of collusive public sector evasions and deceit…..”
Later in the letter we wrote;
“We are reminded that having reported to the ICO about the corrupt activities of the VOA, the ICO, despite being called in by us to investigate this somewhat despotic agency, falsely indicated to us that the VOA had made an ‘honest oversight’? We told the ICO that we had suffered from too many VOA ‘oversights’, that we were unhappy with the ICOs ‘slap on wrist’ judgments. We were unhappy that the ICO were not able to provide us with information re the Revenue/VOA miscreant’s possible aggression against other honest members of the public who had genuine complaint.”
(24) The confrontational dialogue in our letter above was brought about by years of official ineptitude and deliberate official delaying tactics used by the corrupt government machine.
(25) At this time the inexperienced ICO boys had followed the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s action and closed down our case. At times all these government agencies seemed to be in collusion-we were being hung out to dry by the Revenue/VOA, the ombudsman and the ICO
(26) Despite the fact that I had been corresponding for a couple of years with the Revenue/VOA, the Ombudsman, and the ICO about a Revenue employee’s corrupt acts against me; when I attended a Tribunal! faced Revenue and ICO lawyers. The Revenue/VOA corrupt acts that I had been fighting against for a number of years were not on the agenda? The corrupt acts against me were not going to be discussed. How could that be? The Revenue miscreant who had given us so much aggravation was not there for questioning, being hidden away behind the DPA. The Revenue and ICO lawyers talked of legalities-they were bamboozling me with chicaneries; my case was stopped as it was deemed under some ‘legal ruling’ that I had “no chance of succeeding”? Kafka and Orwell would have been in stitches!
(27) No one within the Tribunal mentioned the Revenues corrupt acts against my appeal, there was no mention of the Revenue/VOAs corrupt invention of the non-existent ‘Mrs Gupta’ who had been ‘put in charge’ of my appeal. I questioned the ICO lawyer as to why the Decision Notice had intimated that my claims to expose the nastiest of civil servants “maybe unsubstantiated or malicious”. I was being ‘stitched up’ by a fraudulent collusive complaints procedure that had all the hallmarks of a powerful Mafia style ‘establishment protection racket.’ The nasty Revenue civil servant was given gold-plated governmental legal protection, whilst I an old war pensioner could not afford lawyers.
(28) We were ‘hung-out’ for two years for a ICO Decision Notice that was extremely biased-it claimed the Revenue VOA were ‘open and accountable’ on several of its pages; Paragraph 36 fraudulently intimated that my assertions against the nasty individual were no more than ‘assumptions’? The extremely biased Decision Notice declared rather fraudulently, again in paragraph 36 that our accusations against the VOA miscreant “maybe unsubstantiated or malicious”.
(29) We have a letter that gives the lie to the Decision Notice’s flippant abuse of justice; it reads:
“Mrs xxxx professional conduct and behaviour towards you and your wife whilst handling your council tax affairs were less than satisfactory”. This gives the lie to the ICO’s put down that our claims were no more than ‘assumptions’.” We have other evidence as to her incompetence.
(30) I like many complainants/whistle blowers suffered accumulative years of despair. In our case having first suffered unjust treatment from a Revenue/VOA miscreant, and a corrupt complaint procedure, I then come across a biased Ombudsman, who eventually subjected us to intimidating evening phone calls.
(31) We were then ‘hung out’ over a 2 year period between the Revenue/VOA, the Ombudsman and the ICO who were guilty of prolonging the saga and the Decision Notice. The ombudsman tried to exonerated the Revenue/VAO corrupt acts; she also exonerated the malfunctioning ICO; whilst the ICO also exonerated the Revenue/VOA- a closing of ranks indeed.
(32) I faced government lawyers within a Tribunal who controlled the hearing of my case. (They were unhappy at the way I had criticised the ombudsman?)
(33) Neither the corrupt acts by the Revenue miscreant, nor the miscreant herself were on the Tribunal agenda. I was unable to question the person who had given us so much grief. The case was closed quickly as it was deemed that I had no chance of success?
(34) Paragraph (36) within the Decision Notice states that my claim against the miscreant, who had given us so much agro, was mere ‘assumptions’. Also paragraph (36) declares erroneously that (despite our years of struggle against a civil service miscreant) our complaint maybe ‘unsubstantiated or malicious’. The ultimate in public sector ‘put downs’ of ‘whistle-blowers’.
(35) We wrote to Prime Ministers, Ministers and MPs and Media about corrupt complaint procedures- no replies. We asked Minister Jack Straw for ‘open courts’ so that abused citizens could circumnavigate the crooked complaints procedures as run by civil servants- it is quite ridiculous that Parliament has allowed civil servants and officials to ‘self-police’ their own corruption of ‘good governance’.
(36) The British people, because of parliamentary neglect, have lost much of their democracy to the fraudulent ‘government machine’. Many public sector abusers of our democracy, with stealth are capable of imposing their own illegal ‘made up rules’ upon the long suffering British public!
(37) We ask the PASC to consider who are these ‘well organised’ Mafia style abusers of good governance? Are they from a recalcitrant somewhat defunct political party or maybe they have Masonic connections? The question is ‘who allowed such public sector miscreants to become so powerful?
‘UK Central Government Complaint Standards’
‘Let us know what you think
Have you complained to a government service recently? How did you find it? Could it have been better?
We want to hear your views on the new UK Central Government Complaint Standards. Find out more and take part in our survey.’
Learning is limited by upholds. No lessons to be learnt when the matter is brushed aside by the Ombudsman.
The most appropriate words are not mine. Three reports were published in the second half of 2020 and include the following comments:
“A disjointed, siloed, unresponsive and defensive culture – the system and its leaders need to acknowledge what has gone so badly wrong” (The Cumberlege report).
“The most troubling aspect of compiling this report has been the clear evidence that some individuals have been persistently dishonest, both by omission and commission, and that this extends to formal statements to police and regulatory bodies. Co-operating with an investigation into a public service is not optional for those involved and professionally registered doctors and nurses are under a duty to do so. Dereliction of this duty, without even the offer of an excuse, is seriously detrimental to the conduct of investigations, and contrary to the requirement for candour and transparency” (Dr.Bill Kirkup – The life and death of Elizabeth Dixon)
“There must be an end to investigations, reviews and reports that do not lead to meaningful change. There have been cases where women were blamed for their loss and this further compounded their grief. There have also been cases where women and their families raised concerns about their care and were dismissed or not listened to at all” (Donna Ockenden – enquiry into Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust Maternity Services).
What else is there to say other than the public will never understand why the Establishment sees protecting itself and the status quo as being more important than protecting the citizen. The Administrative Justice system is not fit for the purpose the public wants. As for those who hold power, the system seems to suit them very well. Power hungry individuals, of whatever political colour, are reluctant to tackle the issues. Maybe they don’t see a vote winner. They are wrong and if the growing army of the dis-enfranchised keep making enough noise, then they will be forced to listen and act.
Spot on David.
Another shocking but familiar story by another victim of the PHSO.
How many of us have suffered a fake Mrs Gupta?
How many of us have been bullied and harassed by PHSO staff?
Beyond reasonable doubt, the whole remit of the PHSO is too look away from the most heinous malfeasance committed against a citizen.
Love the cartoon. It’s spot on. No scrutiny – just back slapping & chuckles.
Like and the cartoon too lol well done Della. Well done. Mr Tanners account is a shocking read still even though read it before
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