Some Napo members might have been a bit slow to pick up on what actually happened at the weekend, but not those bright things down at Petty France who have been accurately reading the runes at Chivalry Road for months. They knew immediately that the General Secretary had been rumbled with his plan to just keep going through the motions on the JR front and soon realised to their horror that a legal challenge just might bloody happen.
Of course you wouldn't get any hint of a shift in power by reading yesterday's blog by the General Secretary, who has clearly been picking up some tips from someone on the dark arts of spinning:-
The Officers and Officials all agree that this was an extremely successful AGM, and make no mistake about it, the main highlight was the way in which members received news of and endorsed the Judicial Review strategy that we have been pursuing vigorously over the last 12 months.
At a closed session of AGM I explained the various strands (and frustrations that we have endured during it) of the JR campaign, and why Napo has not been able to seriously consider a possible route forwards until now. I was also transparent about us having spent a lot of money paying for some of the best specialists in the field to help us and Edward Cooper explained the complexities involved and answered questions from members.
On Saturday I reported that we would write to members about the feedback we had helpfully received following the closed session, so that everyone could be briefed on the position we had reached and that members would receive as many assurances as possible in terms of us exhausting all avenues. The e-mail to members which we issued yesterday sets out as safely as we are able to, what we have been doing and where we hope to go next; and it explains that our call for evidence on a number of fronts (now that we have seen what a disaster the staff split has been and what it has led to), is crucial in terms of us seeking redress against the Secretary of State through the legal system.
We had a huge queue of members waiting to give statements to our lawyers at AGM and we have had further testimonies coming in over the weekend and yesterday and again today. This is now being analysed and sent across for possible inclusion in the portfolio of evidence. This represents an absolutely brilliant response from Napo members and another massive thank you for the way that people have stepped up to the plate when needed.
Cool heads and unity
So we now at last have a potential route for legal challenge against TR, and just as the Officer Group always intended we are now trying to pursue it to its conclusion. If the opinion says ‘go for it’ we will. If so I cannot guarantee victory, but I can as always, promise you that we will fight as hard as we can to try and seize the opportunity; the rest will be in the hands of the judiciary and wherever a bit of luck comes from these days. As I made clear to conference, we are in the most testing times in the history of this union but I am confident that the new Officer group will be up to the challenge and pull together just as the last group have done. We won’t raise your hopes unfairly and, as you would expect, we will keep a cool head as we try and steer us through all this.
Lets just clarify this bit:-
"The Officers and Officials all agree that this was an extremely successful AGM, and make no mistake about it, the main highlight was the way in which members received news of and endorsed the Judicial Review strategy that we have been pursuing vigorously over the last 12 months."Some members were so impressed with the strategy that they spent all Friday afternoon drafting the following Emergency Motions:-
1. Having been informed that evidence is needed from members regarding JR in the closed session of conference, we mandate the officers to clearly inform AGM exactly what information can be shared with members outside of this conference given the stated deadline of October 17th. We further mandate the officers to inform conference what the implications are for any JR challenge if there is insufficient evidence from members to support the current JR exercise.
2. We believe that a legal challenge to the SoS is absolutely crucial to stop or delay the share sale of the CRCs and whilst we respect the legal opinion of the current Napo lawyer, we mandate that Napo obtains a second independent legal opinion by 31st October should the current opinion advise against the JR option.
Secondly, the process must be even more urgently instigated, given that the MoJ have disgracefully brought forward the contract timetable in order to try and head off this new threat of a Judicial Review, as opposed to the previous empty threat. We know about the moved timetable from Harry Fletcher and the following tweets:-
Primes to be notified in 3 weeks if won contracts then signed off 2 weeks later. If JR a runner it must be filed urgently.
Successful bidders to learn in 3 weeks if won contracts, sign off 2 weeks later. So just 5 weeks left to save Probation!
Primes to take control of Companies by 1/2/15 and take responsibility for providing services from that date.
Private companies 'have until 1/4/16 to fully implement the target operational model' by which they mean total control.
So contracts awarded 17/11/14, sole responsibility to provide services by 1/2/15, fully implement operating model 1/4/16.
A case might be constructed that letting contracts on 17/11/14 is reckless, high risk to reputation and a danger to public.
Joanna Hughes has expanded a little in this comment left last night:-
Our Probation Service is due to be sold in 5 weeks yesterday. Providers have been told to mobilise in 1 week, will be told in 2 weeks who has won the contract but will not be allowed to make it public. On 17 Nov it will then be for e.g. Sodexo Probation. On 1 Feb they will take over sole responsibility and from that date they have until April 2016 to implement TOM. They have obviously reacted to the JR and have moved the contracts forward before any provider is ready. The MOJ's lawyers can ask to expedite the JR as a spoiling exercise and the lapse between the 2 hearings can be very short. The only person who has actually handled a JR in Napo has told me all this, so knows what he's talking about. We need to get everyone who can to give evidence asap and the lawyers have about one week to get this JR in. There is no message from Napo but they need to let the members know and we need to keep the pressure up.So, not only do we have an omnishambles of epic proportions, we now have one on steroids. This is not only highly irresponsible, it's highly dangerous.
One consequence of a return of mojo is that almost certainly this blog will hit 1.5 million sometime today - that's 500,000 hits since TR was imposed on 1st June and when we passed the first million mark. Thanks everyone - I'll raise a glass to you all tonight!