Mr B and the waspi sting part two
When the long-awaited PHSO investigation report is released in March 2023, millions of women will see how the Ombudsman manipulates the facts to draw illogical conclusions that minimise the harm to complainants. As a rule of thumb all those in positions of authority, be it government bodies, quangos, charities and legal institutions collude together against the citizen. Aided and abetted by the media, these cabals can cover up national scandals for decades. Meanwhile, citizens, believing in truth and justice, must repeatedly raise funds and exhaust their emotional resources in an attempt to lift the lid. Hillsborough is just one such example.
With a 1% uphold rate it is clear that Rob Behrens, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, works to protect the state and not the public. Key to case dismissal is the need to find injustice caused by maladministration when both are subject to Ombudsman’s discretion.
22. If we uphold a complaint, it means we have found maladministration and it led to injustice. We can recommend action the organisation should take to put things right. A finding of maladministration will not automatically result in a finding of injustice or a recommendation for remedy.https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/default/files/Women’s_State_Pension_age_-_our_findings_on_the_Department_for_Work_and_Pensions_communication_of_changes_Final.pdf
The real work of the Ombudsman is damage limitation. Partial upholds for minor issues enable them to justify their existence, as can be seen here in the 2021/22 ‘table of zeros’ Parliamentary Report.
We saw in part one of Mr B and the waspi sting, that by cherry-picking their way through the evidence the Ombudsman managed to reduce over a decade of delay to just 28 months. Consequently, in order to uphold a complaint against the DWP, any claimed injustice must fall into that time zone.
Was it by chance that none of the sample cases made a decision within the maladministration zone?
A decision made before the start of the maladministration period, December 2006, is irrelevant as the unfolding injustice would have happened in any event. Well of course it would, because it wasn’t the 28-month delay which caused the injustice but the previous decade-long delay. Decisions made after 2009 could be dismissed by the acceptance that DWP did not have the resources to carry out a blanket mail-shot over a short period of time. This drip feed of information gave on average between three-year and one-year notification. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to spook the horses. Yet, is there any justification for the phased mail-shot procedure in the age of computer technology? It’s not as if DWP required a bank of typists correcting carbon copies with Tippex. One standard letter with the changes linked to dates of birth would have done the job. Even the myopic Ombudsman determined the feasibility of such an approach in the stage one report.
For example, it could have shared information about State Pension age as set out in Schedule 4 of the 1995 Pensions Act (listing State Pension age within certain age brackets) without including the recipient’s own date of birth in the letter.164 https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/default/files/Women’s_State_Pension_age_-_our_findings_on_the_Department_for_Work_and_Pensions_communication_of_changes_Final.pdf
Traditionally, the Ombudsman reveals all in a final report, in keeping with its policy of investigating in secret, but in this case, PHSO has already published the first stage report before setting about investigating the claimed injustice. The six sample cases were said to be representative of all the key complaints, but until the second report is published we only have their word for that.
In stage one feedback, some of the women realised the significance of the 28-month maladministration finding and complained to the Ombudsman that this was unfair. The Ombudsman’s response was uncompromising.
Some of the comments we received were about the findings we made during stage one of the investigation about DWP’s communication of State Pension age. These include people disagreeing with our decision about when DWP should have begun writing to women individually about their State Pension age following the 1995 Pensions Act. Our stage one findings are final. Our assessment of injustice during stage two is therefore based on our decision that DWP should have begun direct mail at least 28 months earlier than it did.https://davidhencke.com/2022/12/12/exclusive-betrayal-parliamentary-ombudsman-dumps-on-3-6-million-50s-born-women/
With secrecy shrouding the sample cases until the final report is published, the same rule will apply to any complaints that the sample was not representative. We are forbidden from discussing the report before its final publication, but by then it will be too late. This covert process is then promoted as open and transparent.
If you are a divorced woman who agreed to a financial settlement on the basis that you would receive your pension at 60. Or if you rent your accommodation and consequently fell into arrears due to the delay in payment of your pension. Or perhaps you are one of those women who earned so little you had no savings to fall back on. These women, with no safety nets, would have suffered the greatest injustice and you may expect them to be represented. Many women have argued that it is impossible to represent the circumstances of millions of women in just 6 cases, and as we can see, these test cases are crucial to uphold.
How much control did the Ombudsman have in the selection and therefore control of the ‘injustice’ part of the equation?
The Ombudsman intervened in November 2017 but the six sample cases were not announced until nearly a year later, in October 2018. This article from the Financial Times (2017) reveals some interesting information about the selection process.
According to Jamie Potter, partner at Bindmans, Waspi will be “working to assist the ICE in identifying an appropriate representative sample, with a view to establishing whether there was maladministration and how any such maladministration should be addressed”.
Ms Beevers said that Waspi’s legal team will be selecting the sample cases in two categories: women only affected by the 1995 Pension Act, and women affected by that act plus the 2011 one.https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/11/29/ombudsman-intervenes-in-waspi-complaint-cases/
It would appear that the key players were the #Waspi campaign group, Bindmans LLP, their legal representatives and ICE, the Independent Case Examiner. How trustworthy were these agents?
Let’s start with ICE. This government quango had already done its utmost to thwart the complainants and there is no doubt that it would have worked closely with the Ombudsman when passing on case information.
Bindmans LLP seemed keen to move these complaints to the Ombudsman as soon as possible. In fact, it was due to the direct intervention of Bindmans in 2017, that the Ombudsman agreed to investigate the sample cases. That decision effectively stopped all new complaints to DWP, ICE or PHSO.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, contacted by Bindmans, has now stepped in and agreed with the ICE directly that it will streamline the processhttps://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/11/29/ombudsman-intervenes-in-waspi-complaint-cases/?page=1
A legal team such as Bindmans would know that PHSO has a very low uphold rate, that compensation payments are minimal and that there are no powers of compliance to enforce any financial restitution, should one be recommended. Bindmans were knowingly herding the complainants into a cul-de-sac. There are just five reviews for Bindmans LLP on Trust Pilot. Two of them are 5 star and the other three are 1 star.
This one from August 2022 states;
They are just after your money and nothing else. I wish I had someone to warn me when i made the fatal mistake of taking them on as my solicitors. If I could give them no stars I would.
Another from 2018 says;
Useless, time wasting, pompous, arrogant, cherry pickers! Don’t waste your time contacting these slackers.
Only after high paying clients and easy cases. Solicitors are lame and no bite!
Do yourself a favour and just avoid these headline chasers.
It is certainly the case that Bindmans received significant payment from the #Waspi campaign group, yet just passed them down the line into oblivion. The whole point of taking the Ombudsman route is to avoid legal fees as it is an alternative to legal redress.
What of the #Waspi campaign leaders? Were they simply naive, too trusting of the process?
The original #Waspi was set up by five women in 2015. But by 2016 there was a major split in the leadership and three of the original founders resigned.
Following the split, the remaining founders of Waspi, Anne Keen and Celia Jones, will make up the interim working group, alongside “two very active Waspi women”, Mieke Vrijhof and Pat Tarttelin. Both the latter have a background in the charity sector.https://www.ftadviser.com/2016/08/04/pensions/waspi-leadership-splits-remainers-ramp-up-campaign-M4oD5HUYKzjLZK8YyLiVWN/article.html?page=1
Then in April 2018, six months before the announcement of the sample cases, there was a more acrimonious split which led to them losing their legal representation.
Waspi – which is registered as company for legal case purposes – is now in dispute after the former directors lodged a formal objection to the new leadership, which means that Bindmans had to down tools due to potential conflicts of interests.https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2018/04/11/waspi-infighting-damages-dwp-legal-battle/
This has all the hallmarks of a coup and certainly, those 1950’s women who use Twitter show open hostility towards the #Waspi campaign using words such as ‘betrayal’ and ‘infiltration’. Many do not feel that #Waspi represents them, yet this is still the campaign group that grabs the headlines and meets with MPs.
Only a handful of people know the truth but it certainly looks as if the three parties selecting the case studies were safely under control.
After all, the best way to win a war is to be on both sides.
I attended Wednesday’s Fight Back rally and listened to your speech which was really good.
I am fed up with all the secrecy surrounding the 6 test cases and it’s time it was all out in the open. I’m sure I heard you say that you’d seen the submissions from the 6. How did you manage that? Is there somewhere I can see too?
The second report has not been published but copies have been sent out with warnings of secrecy. It needs to be published straight away.
Are you one of the 6 test cases or one of the 600 or so complainants that reached the PHSO stage? Or are you going by leaked documents via David Hencke?
Does it matter?
Daily Record – 14/2/23
‘Jeremy Corbyn, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs highlighted the ongoing WASPI campaign during the annual benefits uprating debate.’
This is another excellent blog and exposure of what happens when taking the PHSO route to try and get justice. Some women seem to think that WASPI failing to get anywhere with the PHSO was down to the Backto60 Judicial Review but the reality is that the complaint system is set up and designed to fail complainants. Government is protected in every way possible it seems and they can use whatever methods and other helpers to aid that protection.
The 1950s women’s pension case was a huge scandal and threat to government and it seems it might have needed a lot of helpers to get rid of it. The Government and the DWP can raise their glasses to another favourable outcome no doubt knowing the PHSO has done the job it is there to do. There are always plenty of helpers to be recruited and good rewards?
Were the WASPI women tricked on all sides and by those they had trusted and those they had funded? The women, not only in losing their pensions, seem to have paid for everything else. They pay through their taxes for the Ombudsman, they pay through their taxes for ICE, they paid for Bindmans (despite the Ombudsman system supposedly avoiding legal costs as it is not a court). The women also paid a huge amount to carry out their extensive campaigns, locally, regionally and nationally. They paid to send registered complaint letters to the DWP and letters to ICE, including reams of evidence. They also paid emotionally and physically with the financial losses and stress of the complex and lengthy complaint procedure dragging on for years, only then, for their complaints to be shut down and their letters destroyed unless they were selected as the six. More stress and confusion for the women but confusion seems another useful tool when you want to hide the truth and make something fail.
When the final second report is published, it seems it also cannot be challenged just like the first one. Why are WASPI waiting? Is the wait intentional? What the WASPI women need to do is ask this very question and many of the other pressing questions they always seemed to have had unanswered. But this time they need to get the answers.
Why did Bindmans, acting at enormous cost and working privately with the Legal Director of WASPI at the time, not know of or even examine the PHSO system before leading the women straight into a dead end. Should not the wording……. “A finding of maladministration will not automatically result in a finding of injustice or a recommendation for remedy”…… have been a red flag to them? Should not the pitiful numbers of upholds by the PHSO, seemingly getting fewer each year, not also have been a red flag? Why were they not taking the route directly to the courts with the huge amount of money raised by the women? They had all the evidence they needed but there were always concerns as to where the money was going. It seems as if no-one involved in the process was really aiming for or wanting success? Was that the intention?
Did the WASPI ‘Legal Team’ also not bother to check out the workings and limitations of the PHSO beforehand? Whatever the Ombudsman recommends DWP don’t have to agree! Maybe WASPI did check all this out and it fitted the bill? Who was controlling the relationship within Bindmans, ICE, WASPI and the Ombudsman or was it another case of ‘we’re all in it together’? Meanwhile trusting women were putting all their efforts into campaigning and fund raising and membership fees. Could the WASPI split around 2018 have been orchestrated to get those out of the way who perhaps were asking too many awkward questions about the processes being used? There seemed a great deal of concern and dissatisfaction among the women at that point. The WASPI women need answers to all these questions because they seem to have been very misled and maybe still are being misled? ‘Stitched up’ sounds about right?
Thank you Della for your blogs and for showing the corruption that exists in our so-called fair and transparent systems of resolution, when people who have been truly failed by the system go in search of much needed help. Perhaps this will be the wake-up call, not only for WASPI but for everyone.
A wonderful summary Anne. Yes, there are many questions left and answered, and it doesn’t appear as if the Waspi team are asking them now, prior to the final report publication. We all know after publication it will be a done deal.
WASPI campaign was an entirely different part of civil law, to that of BackTo60’s high court case of ageist sexism. So it was maladministration of PHSO to stop its investigation, when BackTo60 were not making a complaint about a government department, but against law that can only be passed by politicians sat in parliament.
BackTo60’s CEDAW campaign will continue, whereas WASPI’s campaign will end this year.
We will find out maybe in the Budget March 15, if the final report is published in time.
Beyond BackTo60, is Grey Swans pension group’s campaign for moral support of creation of our new Over 50s party, to put politicians in parliament that would guarantee a set amount of £35,000 compensation to 1950s ladies and tapered compensation to 1951 to 1953 ladies.
But that needs 1950s to 1980s born ladies to only put their pencil cross in the box by the Over 50s brand name in all of England and Wales, in the election where political types have power over state pension law (either 2024 or 2025).
Obviously there are other policies to forever end the discrimination against women in National Insurance and state pension, as well as policies such as saving your kids with no tuition fees to go to university, £16 per hour minimum wage from age 16, and forever lowering energy bills by ending the profiteering private energy companies.
www dot over50sparty dot org dot uk
Good luck with your political campaign. There is much we need to fight for.
Dear Della Reynolds, Admin Grey Swans is not fighting for our political campaign, but is endeavouring to gain moral support for creation of a new brand called Over 50s that would in government, by your kind pencil cross by the side of our brand name, on the day told you by the telly for the political types who have power over state pension law. That is not the May council one.
My problem is that I’ve practically got two feet in the grave, and cannot attend any of the events to gain the volunteer admin (costs nothing but time) to make the Over 50s party reality, being as it is oven ready to start with a fully published manifesto, that includes the Grey Vote policies us 1950s ladies learnt by bitter miserable experience.
To that end I need help, please, to get back onto big pension campaign Facebook pages, from the members of those page, to encourage the admins of those pages to let me back onto those pages. Only once there is a lot of moral support, will it encourage the volunteer admin to come forward.
Especially WE PAID IN, YOU PAID OUT page, hat was the majority of the ladies on all demos over the years. One of the admin has retired from that group.
My public page is Grey Swans on Facebook.
Three of the original Waspi co-founders did not resign in 2016. They were pushed out of the campaign by Anne Keen who did not want to compromise on her “ask”. Prominent MPs like Frank Field had told all of the 5 original founders that they simply weren’t going to get what they were asking for. Marion and Doreen Smulders along with LIn Phillips wanted to take heed of those MPs whilst Anne Keen and Celia Johnson did not. Overnight they were removed from the Twitter and Facebook admin and basically locked out. They did go on to set up Waspi Voice and tried to carry on but were eventually frozen out.
More or less the same thing happened again later on when the main people in Waspi Ltd fell out.
Misinformation. The Waspi ‘ask’ remained the same thoughout the campaign and was supported by all directors at whatever period in it’s history. The big question was – who was dealing with Bindman’s and why was it fielded into the hands of the Ombudsman?
Good question. And once Bindmans determined that the Ombudsman route was the best to take, there should have been no need for further legal services as the Ombudsman process is not a test of law.
The Waspi “ask” has changed several times over the years.
The Waspi “ask” has changed several times since 2015.
So, the 6 Waspi complaints selected by the Ombudsman are not representative of all Waspi complaints. Instead, they represent only those complaints among the great ocean of Waspi complaints that fall within a narrow shipping lane created by the Ombudsman and his legitimacy-giving helpers. We’ll soon learn how narrow the lane is. If I’m wrong and it isn’t narrow, then we’ll soon learn how little compensation robbed pensioners will get.
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I think that a lot of women will be disappointed when they see the 6 sample cases.
‘This might change but as it stands every 50s’ woman is entitled to claim £1k as per the provisional Stage 3 recommendations.’
3.8m x £1,000 = £3,800,000,000?
The DWP may not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation to pay £1,000 to all those it thinks should be compensated.
Absolutely right Jeff. It won’t be easy getting the money out of them and PHSO have no powers of compliance.
‘Absolutely right Jeff. It won’t be easy getting the money out of them and PHSO have no powers of compliance.’
The figures suggest that the prospect of the DWP paying such a huge sum willingly to all pensioners affected is closer to fanciful than realistic, even though this figure (3.8 x £1,000 = £3,800,000,000) is a fraction of what pensioners lost.
In 2021/22, the total recommendations of compensation (parliamentary) made by the Ombudsman amounted to £265,655.59 (35, two of which amounted to more than £80,000):
(£265,655.59 is 0.007% of £3,800,000,000)
DWP say ‘NO.’
PHSO say ‘We have no powers to compel.’
Government say ‘PHSO is independent body.’
Pacac say as little as possible.
I fear you are correct Jeff. I expect PACAC would write a stern letter to the Cabinet Office just to cover their backs but no one will take any notice of that. And so it goes on …
‘And so it goes on …’
Exactly! It’s just people doing what they are paid to do. Change the people and the outcome will be the same. As Upton Sinclair, author of the novel The Jungle (1906), quipped: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.’
When a PHSO executive looks at the ‘table of zeros’ they presumably think:
‘Of the complaints we investigate each year, we uphold, in full or in part, around 50%.’
Tables of zeros:
It’s not my first thought when I take a look.
Maybe Pacac will ask someone from the DWP to provide oral evidence if the Ombudsman’s recommendations are not accepted.
you are correct there …I was shocked when i read the 6 cases …as much use as a chocolate fireguard ..the original WASPI were fighting for justice when there was a break by some from the group ,then B260 intervened and there was a Judicial Review brought on by groups apart from WASPI …Bindmans therefore had to step down and the WASPI campaign was put on hold (utter waste of time ,thanks to outside groups destroying all the hard work done by dedicated WASPI women .)
Had these groups not intervened the WASPI team and solicitors would have worked with the PHSO ,fighting for justice
But the PHSO doesn’t fight for justice that’s the whole point. The PHSO just distorts the evidence to protect the state.
The 6 were chosen as they covered all the issues being complained about by those who were sending in letters – eg not getting a letter about new SPA, not getting told about the rise from 30 to 35 years.
The personal circumstances of the 6 were never expected to cover 3.8m women.
The PHSO has looked at those issues in Stage 1 and Stage 2. His recommendations will be known soon.
I think a lot of women will be disappointed when they see the six representative cases and feel that their personal circumstances have not been considered at all.
This might change but as it stands every 50s’ woman is entitled to claim £1k as per the provisional Stage 3 recommendations.
Anyone whose personal circumstances can show, through evidence, a lost opportunity or a financial loss because of the 28 month maladministration can claim a higher award. The important part is that they have the evidence and not just what they might have done.
Many people could not have done anything differently even with a letter on Day 1 back in 1995. Some people could have and if they have the evidence then go for it. No compensation will be paid simply because the SPA rose.
That 28 month period is a movable feast due to accepting the need to phase communication. It will be very difficult for anyone to pin them down and who determines the validity of the evidence? PHSO or DWP?
Good grief! Of course 6 cases would never have covered all issues complained about. There were not just the issues of no notification letter received or not being told about the rise in qualifying years from 30-35 – this failure was so huge and deep on so many levels including misinformation from govt job centres who were still using outdated DWP websites, courts STILL using outdated DWP information. Even those who eventually got letters, the letter distribution itself had flaws whereby depending on your surname’s initial letter in the alphabet came, women of younger years got letters before older women giving rise in many cases to another year gap. No way can 6 representative cases cover the depth of failure.
There are many reasons why a woman failed to get notified but the six cases didn’t need to represent that aspect of the issue. The level of injustice was determined by the six cases, so those with no safety net, i.e. no husband, no savings, no home ownership, no alternative pension, should have been represented as they suffered the greatest harm.
My heart goes out to the WASPI women. The real criminals in this country are those who abuse their positions of power, deceive, manipulate and cover up at the expense of the public and who are funded by the public. Why aren’t they facing criminal charges for undermining democratic values and reducing this country to a grubby corrupt one. Here is another example of the depths of depravity this country is in but no one wants to do anything about it: https://patientcomplaintdhcftdotcom.wordpress.com/
Daily Express – 7/2/23:
MPs urge DWP to give WASPI women compensation – ‘It is their right’
Ah yes, it’s the same old format they use to frame any complaint they have to investigate. You only have to see the comments on TrustPilot regarding this regulatory body to know it’s simply there to protect the establishment.
I checked Trustpilot.
PHSO has now got 250 reviews and has an overall ‘Bad’ rating.
The latest review includes this:
‘ I sent an audio recording of a corrupt NHS consultant – they claimed they got the letter but not the memory stick which was in the same envelope, MANY more such examples.’
Meanwhile, mainstream media keep failing to ask the questions required.
Absolutely appalling how this has been handled.. deceit and deception through all of it .. rich looking after their own !!! Thank god the Hillsbrough eventually got it right … people have died having paid in all their working life !! To then have the goalposts moved !!!without fair warning .. I know plenty of women who never to this day have received any letter about the changes ..
It is clear from the first report that the Ministers prevented DWP from informing women sooner.
Sadly “no win no fee,” solicitors are only in it for the money . Once they believe they have a lost cause they lose interest
No win no fee solicitors are in it for themselves, its not about the victim or justice. They ‘cherry pick’ claims which are low risk, high reward so they can rack up extortionate fees for doing little/nothing and take a huge percentage out of the victim’s winnings as their bonus on top. They like to present themselves as altruistic do gooders, defending justice but there is no such thing as an honest, fair or justice seeking solicitor, its all about the money and only the money