Friday, 12 December 2014

Grayling Can't Be Trusted

It's Friday, it's been a long and difficult week. I've got a hangover and a blank blog page staring at me. Lets see what can be cobbled together and if it hangs together. Firstly, it's a big day for Napo:- 

Further to the e-mails from Napo earlier in the week, Yvonne Pattison (Co-Chair) and Ian Lawrence (General Secretary) will be attending tomorrow's cost hearing at the High Court along with our legal team. As well as determining who pays the costs, the Court will also be asked to rule on the scope of information that can be released about what the Secretary of State says he will do to address the safety concerns around TR, which we consider you have a right to know. We do not know when judgement will be made following the hearing and whilst we will update members as soon as practicable, it is likely to be next week.

We thank you for your continued understanding.


Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, and the Officers' Group

As usual, Netnipper sums the situation up nicely:-
I see Napo are in court tomorrow asking for their costs and permission to disclose what Grayling has promised to do regarding safety. What a bizarre situation: a judge to rule on whether safety issues should be in the public domain, whether the public and probation staff, the potential victims, have a right to know the risks they may face. And if the judge says 'No', what then? What duties does Napo have to inform its members and the wider public of the risks? Would IL act in contempt and go to prison on behalf of his members?
While we await to see exactly what the aborted legal challenge has achieved, I hope tabbycat won't mind my republishing this contribution from the Napo Forum:-
A Negotiator's analysis:
So, Napo launches a Judicial Review which is listed for Hearing on 10/12 then drops it two days before on 8/12. The MoJ grabs the microphone, makes the soundbite, and issues a statement," We are pleased Napo have backed down before they could waste even more time and money". Following that, some Probation staff and Napo members take to social media, express despair, anger, frustration, and criticise Napo. Some express criticism of the positive spin put by Napo on what's happened - presumably seeing it as a pyrrhic victory for Napo; or, no victory at all.
I think that there in merit in taking a step back and making an overview. Readers of my posts, and those who know me, will recognise that I am no apologist for Napo HQ, nor an insider. A dispassionate analysis from a Negotiator's point of view is of benefit here.

I make the following points.....
i) Napo HQ needs to learn to be cute enough to anticipate the kind of "Heads we win, tails you lose" self-congratulatory revisionist PR soundbite which the MoJ has issued in this instance. Then, either i) to get in first or ii) to respond swiftly, appropriately and effectively, taking back the ground lost. Something on the lines of Mandy Rice Davies', "Well, they (the MoJ) would say that, wouldn't they?" following by an evidence-fuelled rebuttal would have been in order.
ii) Applications for Judicial Review or Employment Tribunal Hearings are commonly settled out of Court and the Hearing date vacated. It happens even as late as the Hearing date itself and outside of the doors to the Courtroom. The pressure of the listing creates compromise and ground won for the Applicant. It is not a loss to them.
iii) I was a Napo JNC Rep for many many years. I also handled Local Disputes and IRs (Individual Representations). My Probation Area was for a very long time a command-control one, autocratic, targeting Branch Officers and individuals, interpreting heterodoxy as heresy, disciplining on the basis of this, and failing to see Positive Deviancy when it occurred. Consultation and negotiation was difficult in this climate. An arsenal of skills and tricks were needed to make any gains. One card which I learned to play was the Brinkmanship card: it won ground and got gains, concessions and compromises many times. It was also useful for Napo in this Judicial Review route journey in getting gains at two points: i) the Judge's Directions and ii) the undertakings which Grayling and the MoJ have had to make in settlement. None of these gains would have been made without the pressure of the Hearing and the authority of the Court.

I hope that some might reconsider their first thoughts in this case. Negotiating takes real skills and some of the harshest criticism always comes from "friendly fire". Please give some credit where it is due. On a final and personal note: my Napo membership is due and this may be my last, or near-final post. I don't know yet. My thanks to my readers, be they fans or critics.
The thing is, can we believe anything Chris Grayling says when we know he's not got a strong grasp of his brief, knowledge of the law is not one of his strong points and he's got form for misleading the House of Commons. This from the Law Society Gazette:-
Grayling admits misleading parliament as JR reforms defeated again
The government has lost another three votes in the House of Lords on judicial review reform - as it emerged that lord chancellor Chris Grayling has admitted misleading the House of Commons during a debate last week.
Crossbencher Lord Pannick persuaded enough Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers to rebel against the government last night on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Pannick’s proposed amendments introduced judicial discretion over whether parties intervening in judicial reviews should pay costs, what financial information applicants should disclose and whether to grant permission in certain cases. All three were backed by peers and will return to the House of Commons for further consideration, probably after Christmas.
The commons has already rejected amendments voted for last month in the Lords, bringing on a period known as ‘ping-pong’ between the two houses. But during yesterday’s debate it emerged that Grayling had given wrong information during the course of discussions on 1 December in the Commons.
In a letter to Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, who voted against the government, the justice secretary admitted he had ‘inadvertently’ suggested that clause 64 of the bill contains a provision for the court to grant permission for JR where conduct was highly likely to have not made a difference in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Graying’s letter added: ‘I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that that is not the case. No such exceptional circumstances provision exists in this clause.’
Ian Dunt on the website feels it's all unforgivable, especially as it's Grayling's own bill:-
Grayling's nadir? Judicial review bill falls apart as minister admits he misled Commons

Chris Grayling's plans to dismantle judicial review were left in tatters yesterday after a letter emerged showing he misled the Commons over the reforms just as the same measure was being debated in the Lords. The extraordinary scenes led the Lords to once again vote against the government, triggering a period of 'ping pong' between the chambers.
The letter from Grayling to Tory MP Geoffrey Cox, who voted against the government when the measures were debated last week, saw the justice secretary admit he got a fundamental aspect of his reforms wrong. He wrote:

"I inadvertently suggested to you that clause 64 contains a provision for the court to grant permission to proceed with a judicial review where conduct is highly likely to have not made a difference if it considered there were exceptional circumstances to do so. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that that is not the case. No such exceptional circumstances provision exists in the clause."
The admission is remarkable because it goes to the heart of the judicial review reforms. The entire function of the reform package is to remove judicial discretion from cases and increase control from Whitehall. Grayling's error suggests that he either knowingly lied in order to try to get his bill past the Commons or that he fundamentally misunderstood the function of his own legislation.
Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter, who led the debate against Grayling last week, told

"This highly embarrassing admission from Chris Grayling shows that after nearly a year of debating this bill he fails to understand its basic principles. Nick Clegg's loyalty to his Tory masters is touching but is now once again exposed as misguided and ill-judged."
The letter emerged just as the Lords were considering the same measures in response to the Commons vote to reject their amendments. It is extremely rare for a bill to fall apart so dramatically during a parliamentary debate because of the incompetence of the minister presiding over it. Justice minister Lord Faulks valiantly tried to salvage the debate for the government, telling peers the admission was "clearly regrettable", but it was difficult for him to make the case for the reforms once it became clear the Commons had voted on the basis of false information.
I'll round this off with another example of just how far we can trust Chris Grayling's word, how we are all being misled by the government and how Parliament is being treated with disdain. This is from the Financial Times:-
Five government departments awarded G4S and Serco fresh work during a period in which Whitehall “gave the impression” that all business with the two outsourcing companies was on hold until the outcome of a review.
The Cabinet Office was widely understood to have barred Serco and G4S from winning new government work until they had they undergone a period of “corporate renewal” after both companies were referred to the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging on electronic monitoring contracts. But an investigation by the Commons public accounts committee found that the two companies were quietly awarded 14 pieces of additional work worth £350m in the probation period that ended in February for Serco and in April for G4S.
The committee found that “the quantum of additional work that was awarded to the companies during the period was not clearly communicated to parliament at the time”. It demonstrated that the government remained overdependent on G4S and Serco, which were in a “quasi-monopoly position” and therefore “too big to fail”.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee, said “the impression the government left was that all business with these two companies was on hold until the outcome of a review”. “Instead, what we uncovered was that they had given extensions and new contracts,” she said.
The Department of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Ministry of Defence and HM Revenue & Customs all gave the companies new work during the period of apparent purdah.
The contracts came despite a statement by Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, in October in which he said the government was investigating all contracts held by the companies worth more than £10m. “We will not be awarding the companies any new contracts unless or until those audits are completed to our satisfaction,” he said.
The Cabinet Office told the committee it was unable to blacklist companies from new contracts because of EU procurement restrictions. It said it believed “the “government worked within legal and operational necessity constraints to limit work placed with both companies”.

Both G4S and Serco remain under investigation by the SFO for overcharging on contracts to electronically tag prisoners, including offenders who had died. Serco also lost a contract providing out of hours GP services in Cornwall after it was found to have altered performance data and remains under investigation by City of London police for manipulating figures on contracts to escort prisoners to court.
The cross-party committee said that too often “the ethical standards of contractors had been found wanting”. “A culture of revenue- and profit-driven performance incentives has too often been misaligned with the needs of the public who fund and depend on these services,” it said.
But the watchdog also urged the government to pay more attention to contract management given that the private sector delivers about £90bn of services on behalf of the public sector — almost half of public sector expenditure. Although Ms Hodge welcome government initiatives to improve monitoring in the wake of the tagging scandal, she said the improvements “were on the margin”.

A Serco spokesperson said yesterday: “Since the events of 2013 Serco has put in place a corporate renewal programme that was positively assessed by the Government Oversight Group, and has strengthened internal management systems and governance. There has also been significant changes within the senior management of the company.”
G4S said: “We are pleased to have been able to contribute to the inquiry. We welcome improved contract management processes and more effective engagement with contracting government departments. We think this will lead to improved services and greater value for money for the taxpayer.”
I couldn't resist popping this in. A contributor neatly illustrates what it all actually means and puts it into some kind of context for us:-

OK, so G4S said: “We are pleased to have been able to contribute to the inquiry. We welcome improved contract management processes and more effective engagement with contracting government departments. We think this will lead to improved services and greater value for money for the taxpayer.”

Lets translate this into a Crown Court criminal sentencing hearing for Mickey 'sticky fingers' Grabber, the well known local con man. Up pops the defending Barrister and offers "the Serco Defence":
"My client is pleased to have been able to contribute to the investigation and trial. He welcomes improved policing techniques (like warning gullible pensioners about people like him on Crimewatch UK), more effective engagement with victims (as they have now seen his e-fit on the telly), and he thinks this will lead to improved services (a better patter to get into Mrs Boggins house for her savings) and greater value for money for the taxpayer (as now he's had a chance to learn from his experiences he won't get caught next time, thus sparing society the cost of a prison cell).... And so, Your Honour, it only remains for the Court to let him off with a pat on the head and a pound out of the poor box...”


  1. It all gets very messy when you start to look beneath the surface. I thought the schedule of members' interests in the NHS (from yesterday's blog) was shocking - more especially those in the Lords, cashing in left, right & centre.

    An historical post on this blog referred to a Mr Dadral giving Grayling money, which was properly disclosed. But it just seems that these days the simple act of making a disclosure somehow exonerates everyone of any impropriety. I had another look, and there was more this year.

    "you might be interested to hear that Chris Grayling received a political donation of £2,200 from Dev Dadral earlier this month, who is the Chairman of a private fostering agency, Swiis Care" - LegalAidWatch, Apr 2014, after concerns expressed about changes to legal aid and its impact upon family hearings, and the moves towards more swift use of adoption.

    Mr Dadral gave Mr Grayling £10,000 in 2010, and also gave the Conservative & Unionist Party £50,000 in 2010.

    The HM Govt website shows the following press release in 2004 from the Insolvency Service:

    Two directors of a labour recruitment business that failed with total debts estimated at around £3.7 million have given Undertakings not to hold directorships or take any part in company management for four years.
    The Undertakings by Gurdev Singh Dadral, aged 50, and his wife Kamla Dadral, aged 43, both of Farndale Crescent, Greenford, Middlesex, were given in respect of their conduct as directors of SWIIS Limited ("SWIIS"), which carried out business from premises at 1st Floor Suite, 16/20 New Broadway, Ealing.
    Acceptance of the Undertakings on 10 May 2004 prevents Mr and Mrs Dadral from being directors of a company or, in any way, whether directly or indirectly, being concerned or taking part in the promotion, formation or management of a company for four years.
    SWIIS was placed into administration on 28 September 2000 with estimated debts of £3,786,764 owed to creditors.
    The Insolvency Service, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, has responsibility (under Section (6) of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986) for the investigation of the conduct of directors of failed companies and for the disqualification of those who are considered unfit to be involved in the management of companies in the future.
    Matters of unfit conduct, not disputed by Gurdev Singh Dadral and Kamla Dadral were that they:
    * allowed SWIIS to trade to the detriment of the Inland Revenue between May 1998 and 27 September 2000;
    * failed to lodge a Statement of Affairs in the Administration of SWIIS.

    At a hearing on 10 May 2004, the Registrar granted both directors leave to act as directors during their periods of disqualification on the following conditions: Notwithstanding the disqualification undertakings given by the applicants, the applicants be given permission to be directors and take part in the management of the following four companies:
    (a) SWIIS International Plc; (b) SWIIS (UK) Limited; (c) SWIIS Foster Care Limited; and (d) SWIIS Nursing & Healthcare Limited."

    So, £3.7M of creditors' money disappears and those responsible are put on the naughty list, but then allowed to continue to trade??!!??

    In 2001 the following was reported in The Economist: "Amongst the foreign-born businessmen currently building their pleasure palaces... Dev Dadral, an Asian entrepreneur building a new mansion at Delaford Park in Buckinghamshire."

    None of the above is illegal and no-one is suggesting such, but the stench of nepotism and old chums looking after each other is overwhelming.

    1. Sadly that is indicative of our system of governance despite many members of parliament - Commons & Lords being decent well intentioned folk.

      We need to take this seriously and have a grass routes campaign - as papa is suggesting to educate folk about how the UK governance really works - the place of parliament in relation to Government and to get more 'ordinary' folk with experience as representatives.

      In fact, it seems to me that lawyers have a lot to offer, but I think it best when folk have prior specialist experience of an area of life such as social work or any other work area and also local government experience.

      Our democratic system is going to be 'refreshed' as a consequence of the Scottish referendum & probably likely to change in ways as yet unknown.

      The place of the judiciary and Civil service, as separate entities to Government and parliament are also important. I have heard trailed details of a Radio 4 short series this coming week that is connected - it could be a useful listen as long as not too many contributors are old time government fixers in the Mandelson/Wakeham/ category (I cannot think of someone from the current Gov but it might be someone like Simon Hughes, who has now come to be one of those I currently most despise.

      First episode is Robin Butler a Civil servant,



    " SWM Probation CRC ‏@SWMProbation Wolverhampton, West Midlands

    CEO Catherine Holland wraps up the day: 'Whatever changes affect us, we all retain a common passion & purpose.' #swmldf "

    1. Fat chance if we are profit driven. All hail the profit, sod everything else

    2. This is how the WORK programme treats people who are sick
      Working Links who run the Work Programme are going to run CRC in 3 areas . Will they refer offenders to WP as RAR? Double funding?

  4. Napo have lost the case and have to pay all costs


    1. Makes no difference, it's not about the money now. Even if it was, given that pretty much everyone is going to leave NAPO they may as well declare themselves bankrupt.

      At least morally.

    2. What about disclosure of graylings promises? Are Napo able to publish them? If not how can Napo challenge him? What assurances do we have that it is safe to proceed? Is there anything else we can do? Can we continue to ask labour if they get in will they repeal the decision to out source the probation. (I doubt they will) does anyone know about the result of the JR re the legal aid cuts that are affecting DV victims. ? So many questions and not enough answers.

  6. Bastereds at NAPO. They have truly let their membership down. I already have resigned on the day they made decision to pull out. In our office Greater Manchester I do to know one person who is now in NAPO.

    1. more fool them - only takes a period of sickness to need your local NAPO rep, or a psycho SPO like I had the misfortune to run into last year. Who are people going to be calling on to support them locally if not NAPO or are they jumping to Unison?

    2. Is that the best you can come up with in defence of NAPO. Instil fear in ppl. Same fucking thing management do. Have some shame.

  7. "Napo have lost the case and have to pay all costs"

    Where is the evidence for this statement?

    1. I have seen it and been sent anonymously an internal MOJ document - that I am unsure about publishing at the minute

  8. I'm sticking with Napo. They have done more than unison ever have. Ok so they pulled out but it was on legal advice which was explained. As much as I am disappointed about the outcome if we ask ourselves who do we get advice from when we need employment related stuff. Napo. Do we follow it because we trust them to defend us in front of managers and employment tribunals. Yes we do in the main. Well all they have done is take advice from their legal source and as disappointing as it is they have followed it. I would have preferred to have heard cg swear on oath what he was going to do to make it safe but I'm sure someone somewhere will be on the case.

  9. Just read the NAPO press release from 8th Dec and it says 'it will ask the HighCourt to order the Justice Secretary to pay their costs. It seems Jim that NAPO may have been unsuccessful and so we're saddled with the bill.

    It also says 'it has finally forced the Justice Secretary to recognise the serious safety risks in the re-organised probation service, and provide details of the steps he will take to address Napo’s long-standing concerns it doesn't say anything about making them public and so Grayling has provided the info. What a disaster!!

  10. Personally, if NAPO have been ordered to pay costs, I think this arguably exonerates them in terms of their decision to withdraw. If they had continued, it would seem that they would almost certainly have lost and had an even bigger bill to pay. Strategic withdrawal may, after all, have been the sensible decision.