“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
Here’s the reality. This blog and the examples of institutional corruption we are highlighting against medically-retired former police officers – and likely, those who are both vulnerable and mentally fragile – is part of the large-scale abuse of those with injury awards in this country. To an abuser who likes power and control, a disability is perfect. The adversary to power and control is exposure.
Exposure can be denied. So when is something off-limits and how can a public body hide disclosure under the Freedom Of Information Act? The Freedom of Information Act in the UK does have some limits on disclosure. One method to comply with the act whilst meeting these limits is supplying material in a censored or “redacted” format.
Often you have to take the word of the public body that the redaction has been applied correctly. So when you have both the redacted and un-redacted versions of minutes from the same Avon & Somerset meetings – all of which are concerning their administration (or should that read maladministration) of injury awards – it’s evident that taking this word at face value is a mistake.
Now that these minutes are in the public domain you have the opportunity to decide whether their redaction was legitimate.
Before we get there, let us just discuss redaction. In this method, a document is made available but with some text removed (often literally with a black marker pen). In the most straightforward cases, this may be just removing the names of junior officials or office staff, usually for privacy reasons.
It’s understandable when redacted information constitutes personal data, and the public body would be in breach of the Data Protection Act if it were to put such information into the public domain.
But in other cases, large amounts of text are illicitly removed so that documents are almost unreadable and the information value is minimal – for no other reason than they’ll rather you not see it.
This redaction technique is abused so that certain nincompoops can deliberately leave no trace of their decision-making process within the public body they serve.
Strangely enough, such cretins seem to pop up in the administration of injury awards.
Can the disclosure of un-redacted meeting minutes really be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs? What happens if the public affairs being minuted involves evidence of Malfeasance in a public office, or official misconduct?
Redaction does not give officials an excuse to cover-up the commissioning of their unlawful acts, done in an official capacity, which affects the legitimate performance of true official duties.
It is both highly disturbing and in the public interest to discover an official policy tasked to look at the medical files relating to every individual who was medically retired by a certain deceased police surgeon (employed by Avon & Somerset police between 1972 and 2006), to ascertain if such medical retirement was in their ‘view’ unlawful/illegal. Especially as this doctor is at the epicentre of an ongoing historical sexual abuse inquiry named Operation Hay.
Potential victims – all who served as police officers – now are suffering the ignominy of a small number of devious employees within Avon & Somerset Police digging through (and without any consent to process) sensitive personal and medical data relating to their injury awards. In other words, a shadow investigation exists – running parallel to a major criminal inquiry – with the sordid misapprehension that every decision made by this police surgeon (employed by this force for over 30 years) is now open to be revisited.
Isn’t it absolutely abhorrent that the force chooses to investigate only the things relating to their mania to reduce injury awards and seemingly they are in no hurry to question the blood tests of convicted drunk drivers, rape cases or assaults this police surgeon helped to convict?
The IPCC is currently looking into allegations that when a number of officers – likely the same people whose medical files retained by this force are now being ferreted by Dr David Bulpitt – came forward on separate occasions throughout the 1990s to complain about Dr Bunting, those complaints were not properly investigated by the force. In other words, whilst the IPCC’s investigates the Operation Hay cover-up the same force is conspiring against the victims whose complaints were brushed aside.
Here are a few choice sentences that the eager redaction gremlins working in A&S attempted to hide from Freedom Of Information disclosure of the minutes of an Avon & Somerset injury award liaison group meeting. Redaction that we’ve recovered (hence the slightly different font) that tried to hide that Dr David Bulpitt, the current force medical advisor, has been tasked with the thorough inspection of the files of potential victims.
DBu [David Bulpitt] to review all individuals’ records identified through Op Hay to ascertain which Dr awarded their band or undertook a review of a band given.Avon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 action log
During the course of conversations it became clear that there were some concerns around why certain awards may have been made by the Dr in post at the time. It was agreed that DBu would review all of the names that are on the Op Hay list to see if they had been given an illegal/incorrect award as a result of being seen by the individual who is currently subject of an investigation.Avon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 Minutes
Of course, A&S do not want the public to know this as it contrary to the law for them, in any way imaginable, to try to revisit old statutory decisions – so they take the black marker to it and redact it all in an attempt to cover it up.
Fortunately for the public good, there is an un-redacted version in the public domain. The left side shows what happens when you give a black permanent marker to crazed scribblings of an over-enthusiastic denier of public disclosure:
Click on the image and a new tab will show the disclosure in it’s entirety. You can use the arrows in the bottom right to toggle to the page two for those with multiple pages.
We now also get to see evidence that legal services has finally accepted that the GMC enforces that every individual seen by a SMP is a patient of that SMP.
DJ [Daniel Johnson] indicated that due to the information forward to Legal Services from DBu [Dr David Bulpitt] they now had a much clearer understanding of the difficulties being experienced as a result of the GMC indicating that each individual under the review is classified as being a patientAvon & Somerset OH Review meeting 23rd October 2015 Minutes
That each and every person seen by a Selected Medical Practitioner (the prerequisite of such being GMC registration) is their patient is fact – after all it is a medical question – but they want to censure that they now accept it. We’ve been trying to tell them this for years: the GMC guidance is unambiguous:
The first duty of a doctor registered with the GMC is to make the care of their patient their first concern. The term ‘patient’ in this guidance also refers to employees, clients, athletes and anyone else whose personal information you hold or have access to, whether or not you care for them in a traditional therapeutic relationship.
GMC Confidentiality: disclosing information for insurance, employment and similar purposes
So why is it redacted? Could it be because it proves their position wrong perhaps.
They also decided to retract information about Operation Hay, as mentioned above, and they talk about the implied threat that legal services are going to put in the letter about suspending an injury award when consent to medical information is withdrawn.
This leads us to the ‘action log’ from the same meeting. They redacted the recorded statement that their lawyer, Daniel Johnson, stated that such suspension is unlawful but, as an aside, they’ll still write a letter dripping with a purely heinous form of blackmail, that will be sent out to imply an unlawful thing will be actually be carried out.
Were these threatening letters actually sent out? Perhaps they were, and the poor recipient capitulated to a threat with menaces. Ironically, to acquiesce to such blackmail usually results in a ‘gun for hire’ SMP applying apportionment or some unlawful earnings assessment to reduce the injury award; see the predicament the former officer faces? – they are truly damned if they don’t and then damned anyway.
If anyone reading this has received such a letter, then they are advised to seek counsel with a specialist solicitor.
Looking behind the black permanent marker and you see this:
DJ advised the Pension Authority that when sending out letters to individuals who have withdrawn consent that a reduction in banding given can only be implied as you cannot predetermine and outcome if release is not madeAction Log 23rd October 2015
So far they have obviously redacted the truths that we have been shouting for a while, but few in a position of power believed – the truth that they manipulate the law for their own ends.
Here is the action log for the 23/10/2015 meeting in its ingloriously malignant splendour:
Rather than try to hide it by redacting, the stuff found within shouldn’t have been thought, said nor written in the first place.
What else have these deviants been up to?
The 1st of March minutes has a section redacted that mentions reviewing people without passing the medical question to the SMP. On it’s own, this isn’t too aberrant. However, if you factor in the draconian practice this force has conducted to drag severely ill people – those who haven’t had any correspondence from the force for a long time – in front of Dr Philip Johnson without exemption, you start to wonder why the sudden deviation from their usual behaviour.
Apparently a band four (therefore one of Dr Bulpitt’s unfavoured selfish and preposterous few) and band one were reviewed on paper by Dr Bulpitt himself, without the demand to be medically examined. Rather a change of tactic here given that Dr Philip Johnson earned £74,220 for 46 days work from Avon & Somerset in from December 1st 2015 to 11th October 2016.
If Bulpitt was doing the work of a SMP, why was Johnson still being paid? And why are some retired officers forced to see Dr Johnson and interrogated for two hours when others get a free pass for a paper review? Consistency is not their strong point.
And finally onto the 14th June 2016 minutes. This is the excerpt that has been redacted from the document on the left:
RW raised the issues of information disclosed via FOI’s, as LG personal email had been disclosed, although we are unsure through which avenue FOI or
Subject Access request.
Action: SA to check with relevant depts. and CD to check with JK SA/CD
RW is Richard Wand. He is a former constable and now a civilian employed by Avon & Somerset Federation JBB as a Regulations and Welfare Advisor
Hardly a section that screams out to be redacted given LG is unidentified and RW is listed, un-redacted, as an attendee: Richard Wand RW Police Federation. There does not seem to be any sane reason why redaction has been implemented but it is a clear example why you shouldn’t trust the whys and wherefores they use to justify redacting something.
They want to hide behind the black permanent marker. Unfortunately on this occasion the marker was filled with disappearing ink.
Abuse of the Freedom of Information Act is bad enough when it happens. When it is the Police performing the abuse the affect is magnified exponentially as their expected standard is higher given their position and that they have a near-monopoly on the use of coercive force.
It is also clear that when these people do things in the full knowledge that they are wrong they put aside the fact that the legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public is a significant determinant of police effectiveness.
For those reading this, shocked and with their mouths agape, staring at a screen and trying to parse everything that has happened, here’s a recap:
- The lead solicitor for the Legal Services department of Avon & Somerset constabulary has confirmed that Regulation 33 PIBR 2006 cannot be used to punish the withdrawal of medical consent. Despite this, he is fully prepared to deceive a member of the public into believing that their injury award can be punitively reduced by suggestion alone. This policy had been redacted as a means of censorship to avoid the ensuing scandal.
- The force medical advisor of the same police force that employed a doctor (now deceased), whose actions are currently under investigation for dozens of sex attacks on young officers during medical examinations, has taken it upon himself to revisit final statutory decisions by looking whether all the ill-health retirements decided by the police pension authority, over a period of 30 years, were unlawful. This policy had been redacted as a means of censorship to avoid the ensuing scandal.
You might think that sounds conspiratorial. It is.
This is more than just isolated bad-apples. The utterings of those who attended these IOD liaison meeting meetings was not redacted by them – powers above them allowed this happen. Another internal department would’ve been complicit in deciding to remove whatever they considered sensational: Corporate Information Management, Legal Services and no doubt, members of the senior executive team must have had a role to authorise this. You can imagine how it was said, with a red-faced senior figure screaming “whatever you do, don’t let that get out!”
What does it say about the culture of ethics existing in such an organisation that allows a cover-up to evolve into a conspiracy.
When a member of Parliament gives such a damning speech in the House of Commons – Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Con) on the Chief Constable Of Avon And Somerset Police Force – there is clearly a systemic ‘rotten barrel’ explanation that permeates through the senior management subculture.
From this point onwards do not give the police force you served with the benefit of the doubt. When you are sent a threatening letter, think that they are probably lying and trying to coerce you to do something you have no lawful obligation to do.
If you are disclosed heavily redacted information then demand them to explain the exemption applied. If they refuse to explain why each and every sentence has been blacked out then take the matter to the ICO.
The minutes should be specific to the matter being minuted. You asked for disclosure from that meeting and therefore everything talked about, excluding the obvious personal information, should be in play for disclosure.
Hiding behind a veil of secrecy is an act deployed by Soviet Union’s KGB and East Germany’s Stasi. It is unforgivable for such tactics to be seen in the UK.
As our skin crawls, it is worth forcing ourselves to look at the reality – we must confront not only the scale of these abused, disabled victims but also this country’s failure to help them.