Month: April 2017

The History between Wirz and Staffordshire Police

The History between Wirz and Staffordshire Police

It is as though instead of a dog wagging its tail the tail should wag the dog. And all Nature would stand aghast before such an improper spectacle.” – Fräulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther by Elizabeth von Arnim

Another knife-attack was thwarted last week in Westminster. Overnight, on the same day, there were anti-terror raids in Kent and London. These were unconnected, but police say that they have foiled an ‘active terror plot.’ All this will blend into the background soon, as much as last month’s attack in Westminster already has. Not because we don’t remember anything, but because we never learn anything.

Behind the scenes there are police officers working tirelessly to protect the public.  But other, ill intentioned people within the police service itself are also working behind the scenes. They are a cabal of individuals who are determined to see those same officers in financial peril if they are ever injured on-duty;  even though legislation exists to protect those who protect us, if the worse happens to them.

Today we are going to talk about two particular individuals, both of whom have history in the recent scandal started by Staffordshire Police in their mass review program.  The frequency these two names appear throughout the saga of injury awards is clear proof that lessons have not been learnt.

Back in 2008 Staffordshire was developing a serious case of frost bite in it’s cold feet over the zealous application of the infamous Home Office guidance 46/2004 which called for severely disabled former police officers to have their income instantly dropped by thousands of pounds just because they had reached 65 years of age.

The small legal minds of Staffordshire Police were in a bind.  “What to do?”, they mulled.  “We really want to do this. Think of the money we we can save.  But something about this guidance doesn’t smell right”.  Like any proud member of NAMF at the time they reached out to the one person they thought could provide some legal incantation to help clear the way..

Introducing the first of our dastardly duo:  Nicholas Wirz, principle solicitor of Northumbria Police.

Michael Griffiths was Staffordshire’s force legal advisor at the time and, on behalf of the force’s director of resources, Graham Liddiard, Griffiths wrote to Mr Wirz on 27th September 2006 to ask whether Wirz had an answer to their concern that, by reviewing all with the intention of reducing everyone not on a band one, that they would breach discrimination law.

Specifically Griffiths asked:

Our particular concern at this time however relates to the potential effect, if any,  of the soon to be implemented Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006  upon the Home Office Circular.
My particular purpose in writing to you at this time is to ascertain whether or not you are in possession of any external legal advice regarding the matters referred to in your report

The report mentioned above is this NAMF guidance authored by Wirz and another grubby individual named Trevor Forbes.

Forbes is number two of our individuals of note.  He is a former Inspector who joined ranks with Wirz and ran with the NAMF wolves, Forbes still to this day works as a freelancer for some forces defending their position in Police Medical Appeals Boards.

This NAMF guidance seems quite detailed on the Home Office invention of ‘cogent reasons’ doesn’t it?  It is as if the Home Office authored it itself… or more likely the Home Office was using Wirz and Forbes as proxies.  Perhaps another conspiracy theory is HOC 46/2004 was Wirz’s idea all along and he was the one who sold it to the Home Office.

Whatever the truth, back in 2006 Wirz and Forbes had a prominent role in the roll-out of unlawful guidance.  Wirz happily used his position to slowly but surely influence decisions.  He advised on every matter on reviews of injury awards that came to his court. This meant that every decision made in relation to Police Injury Benefit Regulations was influenced by Wirz as early as 2006.

We can’t find a comparable analogy of a qualified solicitor surviving the fall-out or pursuing an agenda that was later found to be unlawful, and yet managing to remain in practice.  Whether or not the guidance was actually all his, or not, is irrelevant.  The report referred to by Staffordshire shows that Wirz swallowed it whole and sung it out from the pulpit like a demented proponent of televangelism.

It’s quite likely a police officer found to be championing unlawful processes with such enthusiasm would find themselves on a gross misconduct charge.

Anyway, back to the Staffordshire and Wirz love letters.

Wirz obviously didn’t convince Messrs Liddiard and Griffiths.  They bottled it and capitulated to an ‘agreement’ signed by themselves, local NARPO and the Federation.

On the 6th October 2006 Griffiths wrote back to Wirz saying:

Thank you for your very useful letter of the 2nd October 2006 in response to my earlier correspondence. […]

I am pleased to note that it is not just ourselves who are of the opinion that the Circular causes a degree of confusion which may require litigation to resolve. I shall forward a copy of your letter to Mr Liddiard for his consideration.

So what did Wirz say to Staffordshire police?

This is the Wirz letter to Staffordshire’s Mr Griffiths in full:

Wirz to Staffordshire 02102006

Apparently no external legal advice had been sought by Wirz or by NAMF (National Attendance Management Forum now re-branded as the National Wellbeing Engagement Forum).  Wirz is the self-proclaimed authority in such matters so his arrogance probably prevented further legal examination of his mutterings.

Wirz starts his letter with this:

Thank you for your letter of 27 September 2006. I can confirm that I sought no external legal advice with respect to the matters contained in  the joint note to members of the National Attendance Management Forum dated 24 July 2006

Wirz then says without a hint of irony that it is OK to review when Staffordshire wants to reduce awards, but encouraging former officers to seek a self-reviewed review shall not happen due to the drain on resources.  He says:

Personally I believe an ex officer keeps the CRA, which applied at the time of an ex officers retirement, otherwise vast numbers of officers who have attained the old CRA and who are in receipt of injury awards will seek a review. No resources have been made available for this and the Home Office has not flagged this up

The highlight of Wirz’s assertions comes before his own definition of how compulsory retirement age can be used against a disabled former police officer.  Apparently, he didn’t have a clue.  In any case he doesn’t say whether Staffordshire should or shouldn’t concern themselves with worrying over discrimination and breaches of equality law:

As regards new age discrimination legislation, this, too, needs to be the subject of further guidance

An ambiguous lawyer’s answer if ever there was one!  Guidance begat guidance seems to be his mantra.  The cynic would say that no doubt Wirz would write the secondary guidance on the guidance, wrongly reassuring forces that there is in fact no breach of equality law.

But then even back in 2006, Wirz knew that forces like Staffordshire were guinea pigs and that he was walking on the wrong side of the knife’s edge.  He knew the work he encouraged would light appeals.  Realisation that anything Staffordshire does, as encouraged by people like Forbes and Wirz, will in all likelihood be challenged.

Wirz evens comes clean with this fact:

This matter will, in all probability, be resolved by the High Court when a case dealt with pursuant to 46/2004 is appealed.

Now that remark would be acceptable from anyone who hand no hand in the administration of police injury pensions, but is a remarkably incautious remark from a man whose influence over how injury reviews would be held was considerable. He seems to care not a jot that the Home Office guidance might be of dubious legal integrity. His attitude is to advise that administrators go ahead and possibly break the law. It is a gambler’s advice, not the carefully considered balanced view expected of a legal professional.

Indeed, Wirz’s prediciton was spot on.  The issue was indeed resolved in the High Court – to the considerable inconvenience of the pensioners involved.  The cases of Crudace, Slater and Simpson (along with a huge amount of Pension Ombudsman decisions) called Wirz’s guidance the unlawful perversion that it was..

So back to 2017.

Who is still the legal advisor to NAMF/NWEF? Answer: Nicholas Wirz of course.  Who’s force has lost yet another judicial review about the unlawful interpretation of Regulation 37?  Answer: Nicholas Wirz’s Northumbria.

And what police force is plunging head-first into another mass review catastrophe? Staffordshire.  NAMF/NWEF is still at the heart of the problem.

Wirz is the tail that keeps wagging the dog.  The lessons of the past have not been learnt.

The tentacles that spread out between Staffordshire & Wirz in 2006 are still clutching for  hand-holds on brittle ground.  This time it’s different though, as the lessons of NAMF has only been forgotten by those who listen to NAMF.  The wealth of information available from dark times show that the benefit of doubt no longer exists. Staffordshire is looking down the dark wide barrel of a blunderbuss, which is primed, loaded and ready to fire. Wirz must know that Staffordshire is heading for large amounts of trouble with its mass review ambition. It will be a costly and futile mistake. But, Wirz has not a care. He gets paid no matter what.

IODPA exists to stop the vicious gamesmanship of people like Wirz, who in their efforts to always try to push their own interpretation of  the Regulations, to the very great harm and distress of disabled former officers and their families.

We take no pleasure seeing Staffordshire squirm in its defence of its mass review program.  It’s all so unnecessary.  But sorry, Staffs, you can not defend the indefensible and hope to get away with it.

 

 

 

Newsflash: The Lost Contract of Staffordshire

Newsflash: The Lost Contract of Staffordshire

Our investigative columnist has spent minutes in the labyrinth of long-forgotten archives and has discovered a contract that seems to rather undermine Staffordshire’s new found eagerness to recommence reviews. Click here to download: Staffordshire-Police-Injury-Awards-Agreement

Staffordshire-Police-Injury-Awards-Agreement-amended

A promise made not to review.

It seems to be saying that, as at 01/01/2008, anyone under state retirement age (SRA) and anyone over state retirement shall  “retain their existing injury award band“.  The former until SRA and the latter for life.

In a benevolent wave of a wonky wand, apparently everyone is “entitled to at least a Band 1 injury award for life“.  Which is nice given that it would be unlawful not to provide the injury award for life.

Home Office Circular 46/2004 couldn’t and didn’t change the legislation that defines a review under Regulation 37(1) of the Police (Injury) Benefit Regulations.  The statute and the discretional duty of the Regulation is the same now as it was then.

So why, do we ask, are those same people who signed this contract back in 2008, now eligible to be reviewed in the present day?  And how can the arbitrary cut-off of August 2008 be defended as sound?  One rule for one, and another rule for others never sits well with equality law.

Those with a band two award and above, in their fifties and so below SRA when their contract was signed, now face the traumatic shattering of their expectation to never be reviewed .  Some of this exact same cohort are now under the self-imposed age of 72 years and concurrently above state retirement age.

They basically had a promise that they will never be reviewed. Ever.  The guff about cogent reason and the nonsense on steroids about a review just because someone reaches SRA, read today in 2017, is contrary to case law.

Mr Justice Supperstone in the Simpson judicial review in 2013 made it clear that:

there is no justification for adopting a different approach to regulation 37(1) in respect of a former officer who reaches the age of 65 than in the case of a review for former officers of a younger age.

It was clearly known in 2008 that the 46/2004 circular was unlawful otherwise this Staffordshire contract would not have come into effect.  Staffordshire allowed it to come into being for it’s own self-preservation and as a means to get former officers to agree to the unagreeable.  What better way to reduce someone unlawfully when there is no invented cogent reasons stopping them, than to get that someone to sign a contract to agree that it’s OK to do it without the necessary substantial change to the medical condition demanded by the Regulations.

Oh, how quickly their positive duty evaporates when it means defending a court claim.

On the other side, it was an well-intentioned (albeit misguided) attempt by local NARPO and Federation to protect those retired with injury awards as best they could, all before the illegality of an automatic reduction at SRA and unlawfully invented so-called cogent reasons was judged by the Pension Ombudsman and in the High Court as being a travesty, and that actually the protection wasn’t needed.

But what the agreement now does is raise two major issues and several corollaries.

The first is Estoppel and the basis of reasonable expectation: Staffordshire is now asserting something contrary to what it has implied by a previous action or statement by them.

The second is direct age discrimination that those with an injury award are to be treated differently depending on the abstract variable of whether they were retired before or after the 1st August 2008.  Those with ‘the pledge‘ have to be treated the same as those without ‘the pledge‘, given those without are by default younger.

In other words, Estoppel stops those signatories from ever being reviewed and direct discrimination prevents anyone retired post this agreement from being treated differently.

Oh, what a tangled web Staffordshire weave.

 

Everlasting Anxiety

Everlasting Anxiety

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”
Anaïs Nin

It seems that those who oversee the administration of injury awards in Staffordshire Police have rather a special collection of ineptness.  Quite a feat to combine the malevolence of Northumbria with the idiocy of Avon & Somerset.

For a force that officially signed a contract and abandoned reviews in 2008, the errors and illegalities in the letter they have sent out to all those retired with an injury award is exceedingly far beyond any, even the twisted mind, could conjure up.

We’ve published the missive in full at the end of this post.

Rather than pointing out the obvious conflict this letter has with the Regulations and case law – such as the invented duty that the 2015 Police Pension Regulations* forces them to do this (!)  and the continual use of the word “reassessment“, today we are going to talk about this paragraph:

This letter is just to inform you of the reassessment programme. Whilst I acknowledge this may cause you some anxiety, I regret that at this point in time I am unable to enter into correspondence with you about your personal circumstances. You will be written to again directly in due course when your injury pension comes up for review. The process is expected to take at least eighteen months, so it may be some time before you are written to again about this.

*(Very naughty Staffordshire!  A blatant lie!  In fact these Regulations has no implications on injury awards as they only refer to the Career Average Revalued Earnings Scheme (CARE) scheme and the lower/enhanced tier only applicable to those retired on this 2015 pension scheme – the PIBR 2006 Regulations are the only regulations that concern injury on duty awards)

Wow!  Sending an unsolicited letter, that they know (or don’t care perhaps out of complete indifference) will cause or manifest an existing diagnosis of a mental health illness, to a cohort of disabled individuals – some with severe PTSD, all with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – and then sign-off by saying that they will happily prolong the assault for up to 18 months….

Just Wow!… What cave has Staffordshire been living in for the past five years?

The Department of Work and Pensions received a drubbing in the Court of Appeal back in 2013.  Court judges upheld a decision that the ATOS assessments for sickness and disability benefits discriminate against people with mental health conditions.  This followed an earlier decision by the Upper Tribunal that the Work Capability Assessment – the notorious computer based test which has led to hundreds of thousands of claimants declared ‘fit for work’ – substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems.

The Appeal Court said:

Tribunal was satisfied that the difficulties faced by [mental health patients] placed them at a substantial disadvantage when compared with other disabled persons who do not experience mental health problems

The judges found that:

  1. In my judgment, therefore, the Tribunal properly identified relevant disadvantages in this case as potentially relating both to the actual determination or outcome itself, and to the process leading up to it.

So to speak the obvious; who has Staffordshire seen fit to sent a mass mailing list to, warning the recipient that they will spend the next 18 months in purgatory whilst knowing full well that what they intend to do will cause them harm?

Rhetorical answer: Only to members of the public with both physical and mental illness, who are permanently disabled  and who are proportionally certain to have many of the mental health disorders that are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.

Bizarrely this was sent out to even the people they have unilaterally decided not to review such as those band ones and those over 72.

Even those with a terminal illness recieved this letter. Whilst it’s excellent that they won’t be further victimised whilst end of life, but why stress them with irrelevance? – an example why mass mailshots to those with a protected characteristic without due public sector equality duty compliance is unlawful.

Though we are experienced in the dark-arts of those who administer injury awards, IODPA is still perpetually amazed that some police forces think those that get injured and permanently disabled on duty have no rights.

Avon & Somersent DCC Gareth Morgan may be thinking that becoming this force’s chief may not be a wise career move after all!

injury review intent 20042017_Redacted
injury review intent 20042017_Redacted 2

 

 

 

 

 

“Uncontrollable” Staffordshire Police

“Uncontrollable” Staffordshire Police

Oh Dear.  The force labelled by the Daily Mail* as “out of control” has decided to victimise those former police officers, now medically retired, who became injured on duty whilst serving for it. (*we know some people refuse to read the Daily “Fail” but occasionally it does serve a purpose for campaigning journalism  – Press Awards Newspaper of the Year for 2016).

Staffordshire is infamously renowned for continually using the discredited and neither “lawful nor unlawful” ©NAMF Police Earnings Assessment Matrix (aka PEAM) to make everyone, retired from it with an injury award, a band one. Don’t take our word for it, Staffordshire admit the Regulations don’t mention PEAM and that they use it in this freedom of information request:

PEAM is used along with police staff earnings and appropriateoccupational earnings information to calculate potential earnings. It is not necessary for PEAM to be in the regulations as forces can utilise differing methods for calculating earnings.

 

PEAM and Bad Maths

In an example of unprecedented lunacy, it seems  as though Staffordshire, with the current Chief Constable Jane Sawyer retiring, is looking at compulsory reviewing any former officer who ISN’T a band one!

The irony is unparalleled given the degree of disablement of the  majority of Staffordshire injury awards were calculated using a flawed methodology and therefore falls foul of the Fisher judgement that ruled that any “thin in the extreme” reasoning and lack of individual application means the decision should not stand.

PEAM by it’s nature removes individuality and covers all of those piped through it with a generic blanket of defaults – all variables predefined by a spreadsheet algorithm.

So it amazes us that these people can’t read?  If only the HR minions of Staffordshire viewed our blogs.  The legal bill of paying thousands upon thousands of pounds could be avoided.  Equality law exists to prevent this discriminatory use of a discretionary duty.

To give you a flavour of what unlawfulness to expect, look at the first line of their ‘policy’ here:

https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/ibr

The purpose of the reassessment of Injury Benefit (otherwise known as an Injury Pension or Injury Award) is to ensure that the recipient (the Injury Pensioner) receives the correct level of Injury Benefit.

Wrong from the get-go.

A review (under Regulation 37) is not a reassessment.  Only after evidence of substantial change can there be any revision to the degree of disablement and it is unlawful to calculate a new degree of disablement to find substantial change.  It absolutely has nothing to with regressing to the ‘correct level’ of benefit … whatever that is!

We covered the ridiculous “goldilocks” syndrome some HR directors grasp hold of over a year ago- read the dismissal of it here.

Someone in Staffordshire thinks they know everything there is to know about the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/6977/Legal-Background

Oh dear, Oh dear.

Whilst every other force steps backwards, Staffordshire jumps into the breach.  They even think Regulation 33 can be used to force people to complete their invented questionnaire.

https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/6981/FAQs—Injury-Benefit-Reassessment#answer6985

Interestingly Gareth Morgan, the Deputy Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, will be appointed Chief Constable of Staffordshire next month.

Let us remind you of the February 2017 press release this future Chief gave concerning the historical abuses conducted by a police doctor, and subsequently covered up by senior personnel.

“Anyone requiring a police medical examination held on police premises by a police doctor should have had an expectation of being safe. It is clear that the conduct of some of these medical examinations fell well below this standard.Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Morgan

Plausible deniability can not be argued by Mr Morgan.  He was in a senior post whilst Avon & Somerset thought mass reviews were a good idea.  He was also the senior investigative officer on the 2015 College of Policing’s scathing report on the horrors of ill-heath retirement.

It looks like we will reporting extensively on Staffordshire and we will do whatever we can to show them the true path.

The Protection of Personal Data & The Sad Story of “Z”

The Protection of Personal Data & The Sad Story of “Z”

“If I maintain my silence about my secret it is my prisoner…if I let it slip from my tongue, I am ITs prisoner.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

One important aspect of privacy is recognised in common law – that of the confidentiality of medical information.   Patients should be free of the fear that they will be harmed by disclosure of clinical information as a result of engaging with a doctor.

In the UK there are various statutes and statutory instruments that require doctors to reveal information, which would otherwise be considered confidential. For example the reporting of notifiable diseases (Public Health Control of Diseases Act 1984) or notification of terminations of pregnancy (Abortion Regulations, 1991).  The Abortion Regulations provides a good example of the clarity given to the subject’s protections when medical information has to be disclosed, its section 5 specifically refers to the restrictions placed on disclosure of information.   There are ten parts to this section that explicitly spells out the limited remit of any information disclosed to the Chief Medical Officer and his delegates relating to abortions and the narrow window that it can be processed.

It is by no accident then, that the Police (Injury) Benefit Regulations (PIBR) does not reference at all the words ‘medical records’ or ‘medical notes’.  Given this fact, that no mention of the limitations of disclosure is made, such as you’ll read in the Abortion Regulations, it is clear that there is no requirement for disclosure in the first place!

There is also no implied obligation to do so because it would involve the state asserting an unqualified right to inspect confidential medical records.

Think on this for a second:  There is only one small sample of the UK populace who is frequently threatened to disclose all and every piece of medical information ever written about them in their entire life on a whim of a non-medical HR agent working for a police force.  Fail to acquiesce and a HR minion will terrorise a disabled former police officer by saying they will stop the injury award that person receives.

Everyone else in the UK is protected from such a menace – but the HR minion authoring the threats blithely continues onwards without pause.

Bureaucrats such as the medical retirement officer from Merseyside police demands full medical records from birth, ignorant (or not caring) that a request for such medical records isn’t mandated by any law.  If the former officer is female, the fact that these medical records may contain records of an abortion and therefore protected by the statutory instrument mentioned above, is criminally overlooked by the officious functionary.

When a statutory instrument calls for medical information, this is what you’ll find:

“A notice given or any information furnished to a Chief Medical Officer in pursuance of these Regulations shall not be disclosed except that disclosure may be made…[]”STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS 1991 No. 499 MEDICAL PROFESSION The Abortion Regulations 1991

Their ignorance is beyond comprehension.  In reality everyone, those with injury awards included, also have protections under the Human Rights legislation.

Don’t take our word for it.  Just listen to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

It will not surprise our constant readers that the European court found that domestic law must afford appropriate safeguards to prevent any such communication or disclosure of personal health data as may be inconsistent with the guarantees in Article 8 of the Convention.

In other words there has to be effective and adequate safeguards against the possibility that either irrelevant or medically inaccurate information recorded would be re-circulated and used out of its original context to the prejudice of the person.  Such safeguards as exampled in the UK Abortion Regulations!

Before we go on an exploration of a judgement made by the European Court of Human Rights it’s worth saying first that Brexit will not change anything about the point we will make here.

The ECHR is not part of the EU and will not change on Brexit as it is completely separate from the EU.  The ECHR was drafted in the aftermath of the Second World War and adopted by the Council of Europe in 1950. It was incorporated into UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998.  Arguably, the Great Repeal Bill, which will become an Act in 2019 or 2020, will do quite the opposite of repealing anything: although the Bill will remove the 1972 European Communities Act (ECA), which gives EU law authority, first it will adopt EU law lock stock and barrel into UK law

OK.  Proviso dealt with.

We are going to talk about what the ECHR thinks of “The State” using it’s authority to demand things of it’s citizens – specifically personal data.

In 1997 “Z” applied to the European Court of Human Rights alleging that her right to privacy under the Convention was violated when her HIV status was disclosed by the media during her husband’s criminal trial.

Z v. FINLAND – 22009/93 – Chamber Judgment [1997] ECHR 10 (25 February 1997)

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> European Court of Human Rights >> Z v. FINLAND – 22009/93 – Chamber Judgment [1997] ECHR 10 (25 February 1997) URL: http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/1997/10.html Cite as: 25 EHRR 371, (1999) 45 BMLR 107, [1997] ECHR 10, (1998) 25 EHRR 371


This ECHR case turned on issues of privacy as Z was the applicant complaining that Finland’s legal system had not protected her privacy rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights throughout the process.

The Finnish police tried to investigate when X, the spouse of Z, became HIV positive to prove an attempted manslaughter charge against X;  subsequent to the victims being raped by X.   At the 1993 manslaughter hearing, Z’s doctor was called as a prosecution witness and told the court about Z’s medical history, specifically a blood test taken from Z three years earlier.   Z also took the witness stand and told the court that she had not been infected with HIV by X.

All the medical records of Z were seized by the Finnish police who added them all to items of evidence in the case files.  These records comprised some thirty documents.  Such seizure would be unlawful in the UK by virtue of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)*.

*PACE Sections 8 and 9 and schedule 1 (see R v. Central Criminal Court ex parte Brown (1992) TLR Sept 7th) in the absence of agreement by those holding the records the police have no powers to seize or have access to ‘documentary and other records’.

X was convicted of attempted manslaughter for the three rapes he committed in 1992 and solely rape for the offence committed in 1991.   The court sentenced X to seven years imprisonment and decreed that the reasoning and case files (including Z’s medical records) should be kept confidential for a decade.

Just after the first trial a leading national newspaper reported the seizing of Z’s medical records under the headline “Prosecutor obtains medical records of wife of man accused of HIV rape”.  The article published the first name and family name of Z.

In December 1993 the convictions were upheld by Finland’s Court of Appeal.  Further, the 1991 rape as well as newly introduced 1992 rape charge was now judged to have been attempted manslaughter.  The reasoning was released to the media.  It contained a passage where Z was named as a carrier of HIV and that as the wife of X, this gave X reasonable suspicion to think he was also infected.  In any case, the Court of Appeal sentenced X to a further four years.

The media again published identifiable information of both Z and X after the Court of Appeal sent the decision by fax on the day the hearing was concluded to several newspapers.

Under Finnish law, the Court of Appeal had the power to omit any identifiers of individuals in their judgements.  The ECHR heard whether the Court of Appeal was justified to release the disclosure of Z’s identity and HIV status in the Court of Appeal’s judgement made available to the press.

It was explained to the ECHR that X’s lawyers had petitioned for the confidentially order of a decade to be extended and that Z remained anonymous.  The Court of Appeal had paid no heed.

The EHCR ruled that the publication of Z’s identity and medical condition was not supported by any cogent reasons and accordingly the publication gave rise to a violation of Z’s right to respect for her family and private life as guaranteed by Article 8.  The EHCR also made a ruling on the special nature of medical data:

In this connection, the Court will take into account that the protection of personal data, not least medical data, is of fundamental importance to a person’s enjoyment of his or her right to respect for private and family life as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention (art. 8).

The court made it clear that health data has a special preeminence:

Respecting the confidentiality of health data is a vital principle in the legal systems of all the Contracting Parties to the Convention. It is crucial not only to respect the sense of privacy of a patient but also to preserve his or her confidence in the medical profession and in the health services in general.

We are fortunate in the UK.   Existing primary legislation such as PACE, Access to Medical Reports Act and the Data Protection Act ‘should‘ prevent medical records floating around so many of the case file bundles as happened in the case of Z.

Would the story of Z reached the ECHR if not for the media leak?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, once medical records are ‘released into the wild‘ the subject loses control over them.

Clearly UK lawmakers know this and that is why the Abortion Regulations puts safeguards on such sensitive medical information.  The ECHR ruled that medical information needs unrivalled protection and that is why the PIBR, as a similar statutory instrument, does not call for medical records by not referencing them and by not implementing safeguards on any, HR or SMP invented, ‘implied disclosure’.

When a HR minion demands full medical records from birth there is always a possibility that your medical records will fall into the hands of those not entitled to access them.  And as a consequence the material is misused.  The story of Z is an extreme case but the Finnish Court of Appeal still made a massive mistake that potentially can be repeated if medical records aren’t treated as the most sensitive and confidential of all personal documentation and never disclosed in full just because a SMP wants to see the “whole picture”.

Are you sufficiently confident that the Finnish Court of Appeal is more incompetent than the Occupational Health unit of a police service you used to serve with?  And that your own confidential data couldn’t be used in untoward processing?  Do you know whether your medical data relates to any 3rd party?

Murphy’s law comes into play here.  The adage that is typically stated as: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  No public organisation is beyond making the same mistake as one of the highest Finnish court.  Indeed, given how often police HR departments cock things up and the frequency that the Police Injury Benefit Regulations are contravened there is a much higher probability that the HR department could lose and misuse such sensitive medical data.

Talking about the original ten year confidentially order (breached by the Court of Appeal) the EHCR stated plainly that:

the interference with the applicant’s private and family life which the contested orders entailed was thus subjected to important limitations and was accompanied by effective and adequate safeguards against abuse

We’ll repeat this again: There are no limitations and there are no safeguards provided by the Police Injury Benefit Regulations in relation to confidential medical records.  Why?  Because there is no mention of confidential medical records in the Regulations.

A police force asks for full medical records from birth because their default position is that the injury award grant was wrong.  And they want their double jeopardy.  They want to reduce their financial commitment and will gladly look for a medical incident when you were 11 years old to justify their malevolence.

Case law is quite clear in this matter.  Pollard, Turner and Laws all state the last decision is final.  There is no right for them to have any medical records.  The clock cannot be ‘turned back’.

Tell them this and refer them to this blog if the HR minion disagrees.

How would the HR minion react if they themselves, or close family members, were victims of such bullying and bureaucratic blundering?  You would hear their personal outcries of injustice in their own reaction to a public authority, decades after their own retirement, sending a missive demanding disclosure to their own full medical history.

Best they realise now that following ‘orders’ gives them no protection.  They should think very carefully before signing letters demanding things they have no legal justification to demand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...