Dr Charles Vivian

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus – Injury reviews, too hot to handle.

Icarus : the son of Daedalus, tried to escape imprisonment by flying with artificial wings made of feathers glued together with wax. He flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned.

Wednesday 13th December is a day that injured on Duty Pensioners in Staffordshire and across the country will remember for a long time to come.

On that date Dr Vivian, the SMP contracted to conduct Reg 37 reviews, has with immediate effect, RESIGNED from the process, stating that it has, “been a major burden”.

By a strange twist of synchronicity, Dr Vivian conducts his business through his company called Icarus Ltd. It seems that Dr Vivian has found things too hot for him. We have no wish to see him come to harm and his resignation may well be an honourable reaction to being in a situation which compromised his ethics.  But, will his departure cause those in charge in Staffordshire Police to give any thought to the adverse physical and psychological affect that the reviews are having on the disabled pensioners themselves?

Many of you will know, that since the summer, Staffordshire Police have been ruthlessly pressing ahead with reviews, with virtually every reviewed pensioner being reduced in banding or having been unlawfully threatened with loss of their pension for not providing their full medical notes or completing a questionnaire.

Dr Vivian has been at the heart of these reviews. Although pensioners are stating that he has been nothing but courteous and polite, he has been reducing people unlawfully and he has been making outrageous demands for medical records to which he, and the police pension authority, are not entitled. It is bad enough that Dr Vivian and his employer have been acting outside the law, but it is beyond all bounds of normal decency that the actions are accompanied with threats.

We believe that Dr Vivian is a decent physician who appears to have been misled by those paying his fees. His attendance at the laughingly mis-named National Welfare and Engagement Forum (NWEF), lair of the infamous and erroneous Nicholas Wirz and cronies, suggests that his independence is questionable. At those meetings he will have been subjected to abundant bad advice and copious misinformation concerning the duties and legal restraints which apply to the conduct of injury pension reviews.

A doctor should always look after his or patients without causing harm or unwarranted distress. Did Dr Vivian come to realise that he was being forced to sell his soul?

We understand that Dr Vivian has recently been under an enormous amount of stress over performing the role of the SMP during these reviews. This may have been caused by Staffordshire Police putting pressure on him to obtain the results that they want rather than leaving to him providing a fair independent expert assessment.

Dr Vivian has stated of SMP work that, ‘. . . it has a reputation of being highly contentious“. We at IODPA say in response, that If all reviews were conducted properly and fairly under the Regulations, then then there would be no need for stress and contention.

The SMP’s departure leaves Andrew Coley and Chief Constable Morgan in a predicament.

Do they now follow Avon and Somerset Constabulary who terminated reviews in June this year or do they continue to waste tax payers money on pursuing reviews?

IODPA continues to closely monitor events and sincerely hopes that Dr Vivian’s resignation will signal the beginning of the end of unlawful reviews and the abhorrent threats and intimidation which too many vulnerable disabled pensioners have been subjected to.

When David Lock QC Speaks the World Listens

When David Lock QC Speaks the World Listens

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.”
― Thomas Aquinas

The speaking style of judges in judicial review transcripts can be incredibly hard to decipher, and we know it.  In judgements, the sentences start here, twist there and double back so many times that non-legally trained minds might give up trying to pin down what is being said.

That is why we give a shudder of relief when David Lock shines light on otherwise complicated matters.  For the second time this month we have seen another excellent piece on police injury pension decisions:

His piece can be read here which we have duplicated here for your convenience.

The-duty-on-Medical-Authorities-to-resolve-factual-issues-when-making-police-injury-pension-decisions

 

David touches on an much-missed judgement that holds selected medical practitioners to a civil standard of proof – a judgement that we have read before but honestly failed to detect the power of what his Honour Judge Davies said in the 2011 decision of Williams v Merseyside Police Authority.

Mr Williams was the first “anor” in the 2010 Doubtfire & Anor  v West Mercia Police Authority & Anor.  The second “anor” was Merseyside Police.  David Lock was the QC who won both the Doubtfire (and anor) judicial review and the sole Williams judicial review for the former officer.

Police officers with broken minds and bodies suffer huge personally trauma by being injured.  This life changing injury puts an end to not only a career, but a vocation and, sadly, often their family and personal life.  Then the malice that lives in the hearts of police forces places further purgatory by forcing former officers to chase their entitlement by going to court.

Please take a minute to consider that Mr Williams was medically retired on 4th September 2006.   He attended his first judicial review on 30th April 2010.   The second was held 13th April 2011.  Take stock of all the HR letters he has received, the work he has done with his legal team, the assessments he has attended: the intense and full force of the bureaucracy he faced! Just to receive what he has always been due.

Lest we forget the trauma placed upon those injured on duty by police pension authorities.

With due reverence, time to be moving on. Justice Davies started his judgement of the 2011 decision by making reference to the saga that Mr Williams has been forced to endure when he said:

“Mr Williams’ application for an injury pension already has a protracted and unfortunate history.

We’ve talked before about Mr Williams and how the SMPs, Dr Vincenti and Dr Staley, disagreed with each other about the exact name of Mr William’s diagnosis.  You can refresh your knowledge here.

In David Lock’s LinkedIn opinion piece he talks clearly about the grey area between medical and legal decision making.  The piece speaks for itself and we can not do it justice by commentating on it.  We wholeheartedly recommend it as essential reading.  Doctors who work as SMPs should take stock that hiding under the title of doctor does not absolve them from following the law.  Clearly, what has been ruled in previous case law applies to them just as much as it does to the police pension authority.

We will however touch on the Williams case.  It is worth remembering that this concerned an original decision. Specifically, the issue of causation.    Upon review under Regulation 37 the room for manoeuvre of the medical authority is significantly narrower because of the decision of the 2010 Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws.

After the 2010 case of Doubtfire the decisions were quashed and Mr Williams had to see the same PMAB (the “Board”) panel for a re-determination.  Bizarrely instead of producing a fresh report, it simply produced an addendum to their original report, entitled “reconsideration following judicial review”.

The case discussion by the Board involved a lot of umming-and-ahhing over what was, and what was not, supported by the evidence.  The Board was attempting to unravel some of the accusations of bullying  and they observed that there was a difference between Mr Williams’ account of events and that of  a Sergeant Hilton and an Inspector Fitzpatrick.

Merseyside lost the judicial review on several points but the most relevant point for us today was that the Board based decisions on one party’s perception of version of events at the expense of the other party.  This is one thing that David touches on in his opinion piece when he says

The SMP and the PMAB is not entitled to rely on the finding of the Force uncritically but needs to form its own view of the truth.

Justice Davies made it clear that the medical authority can not selectively weigh evidence depending on who is the evidence giver. Justice Davies said in the judgement:

 It does however appear, when read with the rest of the letter, that the Board’s approach was that it was only prepared to accept evidence from Mr Williams which was either proved by independent evidence or not disputed by the Authority. It appears that the reference to seeking additional information is a reference back to the difficulty they had in interpreting what Inspector Fitzpatrick had said. However the end result appears to have been that in the absence of additional information they simply took what Inspector Fitzpatrick said at face value and decided the issue against Mr Williams on that basis.

It’s worth contemplating that for a second.  The medical authority would not consider anything not disputed by the police pension authority or not independent.  Such blatant partisan and excessive zeal in refusing to hear the other side of the story, or to refuse the giving of context to dry medical records,  belongs more to the spectacular miscarriages of justice seen in 18th century than the United Kingdom in the 21st Century.

We often hear anecdotal situations where the medical authority (the SMP) blithely casts aside a letter from a patient’s General Practitioner, or where the SMP takes great care to give weight to the force’s submission but states that the patient’s own clinicians would be bias and too over-favourable.

Or an often repeated situation where the SMP refuses to listen to the oral submissions of the former officer sat in front of him and solely only thinks “what is written is truth” and discounts the medical opinion he doesn’t agree with without reasoning why the evidence is rejected. Like the Board in the Williams case, this will always produce a result which was unfair to the former officer, and which is not a decision on the civil balance of probabilities.

An even greater travesty is where the medical authority pre-determines any decision in the to and fro  communication with a HR manager prior to the actual date of the former officer’s assessment.  Such happenings have occurred between Dr Vivian and Staffordshire’s Andrew Colley.

Holding the title of a doctor does not excuse one, when acting as a SMP, in failing to apply the civil standard of proof.

Re-reading the Williams judgement with fresh eyes has been revealing.  We again thank David Lock for shining a light on how the law shall be applied.

 

 

 

 

The Scandal in Staffordshire

The Scandal in Staffordshire

Alea iacta est”  (“The die is cast”) — Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 B.C as he crossed the Rubicon river

November 9th 2017 was a black day.  It was the day Staffordshire police, Andrew Colley and Charles Vivian crossed the Rubicon.

The answer will be found in the courts and injustice will be vanquished, as it always is, but still Staffordshire police wants test their ruinous interpretation of the law whilst ignoring the collateral harm it is deliberately causing to those injured in their police service.

Why are we here and why wasn’t this stopped when the wickedness was embryonic?  What follows is a timely reminder.

Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin” describes how when behaviour worsens, those with the power to do something go on the defensive, convinced there is always a reasonable explanation for why what they could have stopped was done to others.

On the 7 June 2017 at court room in North Shields, employment Judge Buchanan heard how David Curry, a former police officer retired on a pension awarded for disabling brain injury suffered in the line of duty had been pursued since 1998 by his former force. Mr Curry had his injury pension reviewed in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2010 and continually from 2016 to 2017. The fact that he was sectioned and admitted into a psychiatric ward wasn’t enough to persuade his former force there had been no change in his capacity to earn.

David’s experience is sadly not an isolated instance. The charity Injury on Duty Pensioners Association (IODPA)1 has gathered a large and growing body of personal accounts by the victims of maladministration. So much is wrong with so many aspects of police injury pension management that the situation is little short of a national scandal, which requires the attention of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Disabled former officers such as Mr Curry can never be free from the police.  The new £7.5m Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW)  welfare fund is helping those serving but neglects those already injured and retired.  Ill-health retirement is sadly an acrimonious and bureaucratic process and this doesn’t cease once permanence has been proved and the warrant card handed back. Every time the postman drops a letter through a letterbox carries the risk of adversity; a letter from the force causing the injured to relive the trauma of how they left the police.

Through a fluke of mailroom efficiency, often these letters drop on a Saturday when week-day mental health support has closed. No other occupation has such a toe-hold on those leave through medical retirement.  They are being treated as though they are cheats or liars. Some, including those with severe mental injury, have been subjected to hours-long aggressive ‘medical inquisitions’ by doctors appointed by their former force throughout their life outside of the police.

When a force wants to review the principles of the Data Protection Act are often forgotten. As are the Access to Medical Reports Act, and General Medical Council and Faculty of Occupational Medicine guidelines. Pensioners are facing unlawful demands for access to their medical records and see reports written by said doctors, which contain gross errors in fact and law, delivered to HR departments without their permission. Pensioners have been threatened with stoppage of their injury pensions if they fail to complete questionnaires demanding sensitive financial and medical information having no relevance whatever to the management of their pensions.

Age can never be a factor.  Slavishly following a “policy” is unlawful.  It is never justifiable to threaten compliance or consent. A SMP can’t have a predetermined decision based on averages of prognosis for the general population.  Causation can not be touched upon  It is not about earnings.

All these things happened in Staffordshire on the 9th November 2017.

Those injured and disabled have to contend with pension scheme administrators who have little to no understanding of the Regulations which govern police injury pensions and whose automatic reaction to any enquiry or query concerning mismanagement is to circle the wagons and to deny, delay, obfuscate and obstruct. Complaints are brushed aside, and are labelled as vexatious, or an abuse of the complaints system.

Mass reviews have been held, in some forces areas, causing very great worry and inconvenience to disabled former officers and their families. Decisions made on degree of disablement are intended to be final and only subject to review where the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the pensioner’s degree of disablement.

There are 43 regional police forces in England and Wales. The picture is mixed, with the majority of forces not conducting reviews, whilst others have actively set about wholesale abuse of the discretionary power to conduct reviews. IODPA has been told by pensioners in these areas that they fear they are caught up in a grotesque game, where a handful of people on a mission are using them to test the boundaries of what they think they can get away with – all with the misplaced and illusory objective of saving money.

IODPA has no objection to lawful reviews, which it insists should be rare events, triggered when the PPA consider that there has been an alteration in the medical condition of any individual. Research conducted on behalf of IODPA produced data on reviews held covering the five year period 2010 – 2015 revealing that 83% of all reviews held resulted in a decision there had been no alteration in degree of disablement, and thus no revision of the amount of injury pension paid. Some 10.29% of reviews resulted in a decrease in pension, whilst 6.82% were increased. Just six forces accounted for the majority of the reviews, conducting 781 out of the total of 806. Merseyside alone conducted a staggering 502 reviews, all of which are believed to have been unlawfully held.

It can be concluded from the research that some forces wasted a great deal of public money conducting unnecessary reviews, which cost around £2500 each, with other, more substantial costs resulting from appeals and legal challenges.

Avon & Somerset has paid one SMP, a Dr Phillip Johnson, £94,500 in twelve months from August 2016 to August 2017.  Add this to the £54,600 paid to Johnson from December 2015 to August 2016 and the £146,667 between June 2014 to November 2015, and the sum totals just under three hundred thousand pounds.  Given Johnson works as the force medical officer for Dorset police and Avon & Somerset already pays a salary of over £150k per annum to Dr David Bulpitt, the scales of money exchanging hands is staggering.

In one force3, pensioners were selected for review by what was essentially an automated lottery, with no evidence whatever to believe their degree of disablement had altered. In one force a civilian member of staff was given free access to the medical records of police injury pensioners. It seems this force allowed, even encouraged attempts to reduce injury pension payments. The civilian’s job description2 commenced thus:

Job Purpose. To manage the investigation and process of police and support staff retirement on the grounds of ill health. To ensure maximum savings to the force budget through the robust investigation of injury award applications, injury award reviews, medical appeals and reviewing permanently disabled officers who have been retained in service.

It seems this force has wrongly tied what should be the administration of injury pensions within the content, scope and purposes of the Regulations to the management of the force budget. Disabled pensioners are to be subjected to ‘investigation’ rather than be treated with respect and consideration.

The fact of the unlawful reviews is cause enough for concern, but there is a widespread and justified belief among pensioners that the reviews are motivated solely by a misplaced desire to save money from hard-pressed police budgets.

There is also uneasiness regarding the unhelpful attitudes of HR staff, the some doctors, and senior officers, some of whom are politely aggressive, or arrogantly dismissive of pensioners’ concerns.

It is unacceptable that that the rights of injured on duty pensioners should be trampled on by the failures of those responsible for the legitimate management of the scheme. Retired disabled officers deserve better. Attitudes need to change.

When a police officer is injured on duty, to such an extent they can no longer perform the ordinary duties of a constable they can be compulsorily medically retired. Injury can be physical or mental, or a combination of both. The retiring officer can be awarded a one-off gratuity and an injury pension, which is payable for life. The test for qualification for the award is whether the person concerned is disabled, whether the disablement is likely to be permanent and whether the disablement is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty.

The injury on duty pension scheme is governed by the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. The explanatory memorandum3 to that legislation makes it clear that injury awards, ‘. . . are in effect compensation for work-related injuries.’

In making provision for injured officers to receive a pension, successive Governments have consistently acknowledged that entitlement to a police injury pension is a key element of the remuneration of police officers to enable them to undertake their role with confidence. Officers need to know that if they have to be retired due to disabling injury they will not suffer financial detriment. Currently, that certainty is slipping away, and if this trend continues, then morale of serving officers will suffer.

If there was no injury pension scheme, it is reasoned that Chief Officers would inevitably find themselves subjected to litigation, with allegations of negligence, and claims for compensation for injury. Given that there are currently over 12,000 former officers retired with an injury on duty, the potential cost of litigation should there have been no injury award scheme could well have run into thousands of millions.

No amount of pension can ease the difficulties retiring injured officers face. The consequential mental trauma of injury can be severe. There is the loss of an occupation which for many officers is seen as a vocation more than a means of earning a living. There is the loss of the comradeship, and loss of the sense of belonging, of being engaged in a worthwhile enterprise with noble aims and purpose. With the shock of injury and retirement comes the need to construct a new life. Some disabled former officers manage the transition with minimal difficulty. They find a new job or a new career. They adapt to the restrictions the disablement brings.

However, for many, especially those with very severe disablement, IODPA is well aware that transition to life outside the police can be a lengthy and distressing experience. Despite positive changes in attitudes by employers, encouraged by anti-discrimination legislation, disabled former officers, especially those with a mental injury, may well find themselves to be unemployable.

The Regulations governing police injury pensions are not concerned with these problems. They address only the one issue, that of providing a minimum income guarantee in retirement, and on that issue they are adequate for purpose. An injury pension scheme is only effective where it is properly managed. The Regulations are not hard to understand. Yet they are being woefully misunderstood by some who have responsibility for managing the police injury pension scheme.

In November 2013 the College of Policing arranged a review of forces’ management of ill health Retirements, injury on duty awards and police medical appeal boards4. Amongst other conclusions, the resulting report found that:

Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations.’

The structure of some force HR facilities do not support the management of the process. When managed by shared service pools rather than through specific dedicated individuals, personnel are unable to build up experience in dealing with these case.’

The above issues are compounded by a lack of dedicated subject matter experts across the service and training opportunities.’

We have to look back to 2006 to see the origins of this sad state of affairs. Due to a change in tax legislation, and to preserve the tax-free status of injury awards they were separated from the general police pension schemes. The injury pension scheme became a non-contributory scheme, and award payments now stand to be met from the budget of each force.

This immediately brought about a focus on the cost of meeting existing injury pension payments. Some chief officers sought to reduce what was seen as a burden on scarce resources by manipulating the review provision.

Then the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 abolished police authorities, which had hitherto held the legal obligation to administer the police injury award scheme. In practice, authorities had delegated the administration to Chief Constables, but they continued to provide an important oversight. The 2011 Act created the office of police pension authority and vested it in the sole personages of each Chief Constable.

There seems to be a built-in conflict of interest in having Chief Constables, who must dutifully manage their budgets, having to attempt to set aside all considerations of cost when acting as the police pension authority. The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 do not say that a pension can be reviewed because a Chief Constable is concerned about the cost of paying it. Some Chief Constables have failed to make the necessary separation of their duties, to their great shame and to the detriment of disabled, and often vulnerable, former officers.

In Lionel Shriver’s novel, it was too late to save Kevin and those he massacred. The opportunity to make things right had passed. It is not too late for disabled former officers like David. IODPA suggests that Police and Crime Commissioners urgently should look closely at the human and financial cost of these issues and help ensure that police injury pensions are managed within the law.

1 https://iodpa.org/

2 See: http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/000.JDQ-Medical-Retirement-Officer.pdf

3 See: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/injury_on_duty_reviews_the_next#outgoing-510456

4 See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/932/pdfs/uksiem_20060932_en.pdf

5 See: College of Policing Review of Force Management of Ill Health Retirements, Injury on Duty Awards and Police Medical Appeal Boards

Quasi-Judicial: What It Is & What It Isn’t

Quasi-Judicial:  What It Is & What It Isn’t

“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
― Bob Marley

Some SMPs have acquired a fundamental misunderstanding of what is meant by them acting in a quasi-judicial capacity when conducting their part in a review of the degree of disablement in respect of the injury pension of former officers.

They have gone so far, in some instances, of thinking they have the power to direct IOD pensioners to do certain things – like handing over their medical records from birth, or travelling many miles to attend an appointment at the convenience of the SMP. Some try, (and fail) to forbid the pensioner having a friend, supporter, carer or chaperone present during a medical interview or examination. Some, in the grip of their delusions, have taken to calling a medical examination a ‘medical inquisition’. One SMP even thinks she is a Judge and is in the habit of ordering all and sundry to do her bidding, but we discount the rumours that she has a wig and ermine trimmed robe which she secretly wears in the bathroom at home.

The plain fact is that SMPs and even Police Pension Authorities, under whose authority they act, have no power to command or demand anything of a police injury on duty pensioner.  Merseyside police recently came a cropper on this exact same point by capitulating on a judicial review.  Ron Thompson of Haven solicitors said,

“This was an unnecessary and totally avoidable dispute. All the Chief Constable’s staff had to do was to read the wording of the Regulations to see that they had no power to force former officers to hand over medical notes or fill in questionnaires, particularly in advance of any decision to make a referral to the SMP. The lesson from this episode for Forces is that no amount of misguided “advice” from the National Attendance Management Forum can change the meaning of the words of the Regulations.
Any other Force that tries this tactic can expect to be served with the same type of legal challenge”

Yes, you read that right. No power whatever. If any HR manager, SMP or Police Pension Authority thinks otherwise, then IODPA has just this to say to them – ‘See you in court.

At review, a SMP is required to make a decision. That’s it. That all parties are bound by the final decision (final if not appealed) is where the quasi-judicial bit comes from, and that is where it ends. The SMP’s decision is an action taken on behalf of a public administrative agency, the police pension authority, and a SMP is obliged upon to decide a question as the foundation for official actions. In plain words, they make a medical decision, and hand that decision to the PPA. A decision, only once made and so final that the PPA has to act in accordance with it, and is forbidden to alter, change or dismiss or get HR to pipe into a magic calculator to spit out a band one, is de facto a quasi-judicial decision. The decision.  Not the process or the process maker.

But let us delve into the murky world of SMP’s enthusiastically failing to act as an independent arbitrators. It is a fundamental requirement that any decision-maker should be impartial. ‘Disinterested’ is the word – have no axe to grind, nothing to gain or lose by making a decision, neither having the interests of the pensioner or the PPA in mind, but being a servant of the law, medical ethics and of reason. Making a decision on verifiable facts and on professional opinion, and being prepared to explain and justify that decision.

We would like here to focus on the antics of one SMP – Dr Charlie Vivian, who works as SMP for Staffordshire PPA (police pension authority). (A reminder to readers – the PPA is none other than the Chief Constable alone.)

Dr Charlie Vivian says the process, his process,  is quasi-judicial, but we are not convinced he understands what that means. His actions indicate he thinks he has unbridled power, including the right to discard the normal legal and ethical standards of conduct required of a decision-maker.

At a rare and brief resumption of normality, the National Wellbeing and Engagement Forum (formerly the NAMF) reconvened in September after their lack of members hiatus, and Dr Vivian sat at the same table as Andrew Colley of Staffordshire HR.  This is unacceptable. Wouldn’t it be quite a thing for a judge or a coroner to seen hobnobbing over lunch with representatives of the prosecution and having discussions during the course of which the acceptability of process is discussed in the absence of the defendant and the public?

This behaviour would not serve the best interests of open, transparent justice but it’s sadly happened before. Health Management Ltd. has a Home Office contract to run police medical appeal boards but they only recently realised attending NWEF/NAMF compromises their independence. Or perhaps they knew all along but thought that nobody would notice, or care.

Their realisation of the bias was minuted in the June 2016 NAMF conference


This never stopped the chair of HML (and therefore head of all PMAB panelists) regularly attending NAMF himself whilst on the side labeling himself as a consultant of HML and giving speeches to the Association of Local Authority Medical Advisors (ALAMA) on the pitfalls SMPs face at PMAB hearings.

Take a look at this agenda of a 2012 ALAMA conference

Wallington spent 45 minutes advising SMPs about how to avoid the pitfalls for the unwary at a PMAB.  Perhaps Wallington should perform the same service for those disabled former officers who are forced to attend PMABs because of an unjust SMP decision?

The Home Office has declared via a freedom of information request that very same Dr Wallington is the only PMAB panel member to attend a NAMF conference.  Just look at question 5 found towards the bottom of this request:

34242.pdf

This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request ‘ Police Medical Appeal Board’.

Vivian claims he acts in a quasi-judicial capacity, but like Wallington, the company he keeps seems to suggest he is in cahoots with one side to the detriment of the other.  What legal precedent does Dr Vivian rely on in the quasi-judicial matters in hand? First off, he thinks he is a coroner.  Secondly, he thinks the Scottish high court judgement of Rooney v Strathclyde 2008 empowers him to be a coroner.  The Rooney case is not dissimilar to the England & Wales judicial review of Sidwell v Derbyshire 2015.  Both say a court only has limited scope to interfere with medical opinions supporting decision to compulsorily retire a police officer.

We’ve delved into the inner workings of the Internet and found the Rooney case.  Here is it is:

MATTHEW ROONEY Petitioner; against STRATHCLYDE JOINT POLICE BOARD

There is the not insignificant matter that Scottish courts have no judicial precedent over England & Wales as Scotland has a different legal system.  Judicial precedent refers to the set of rules specifying when a court must have regard to, or consider, the decision of another court, and the circumstances in which the decision of that other court is binding. What is decided in Scotland applies only to Scotland.

Quoting a Scottish court decision to support a view is rather like claiming that as they drive on the right in Canada, then it is OK to do so in Burton-on-Trent.

Vivian also has the problem that the Rooney judgement, read in its entirety, does not give SMPs in Scotland the quasi-judicial power he purports it does.  In fact the only reference to the term “quasi-judicial” comes from an extract from a letter written by the solicitors for the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) to palliate the position of the SMP, a Dr Patience.

The purpose of the letter was to inform Rooney’s solicitors that the MDDUS was content that Dr Patience’s decision should be defended by Stathclyde Joint Police Board,  and that Dr Patience would not therefore be taking part in the proceedings.

The judges in the Rooney case didn’t say, as claimed:

The regulations required him to act in a quasi-judicial capacity and to construe complex regulations that have been the subject of repeated litigation in recent years, and to grasp legal distinctions of some nicety … However, he did not have the benefit of a legally qualified clerk or assessor.

The above was actually quoted in this letter from the SMP’s professional body, the MDDUS.  So Dr Vivian is using a quote from a letter, referring to a Scottish court case, from a professional body representing the very doctor whose decision is being challenged, and is claiming this as a legal precedent and therefore case law!  Wow … just wow.

We don’t expect our lawyers to be experts on medical matters, and neither do the Regulations expect SMPs to be experts on legal matters. They have to follow the Regulations, and if they need guidance in that respect, they should be able to rely on their PPA. As so many PPA’s have little to no grasp of the requirements of the Regulations, and as the Home Office has decided not to issue any more guidance, SMPs have been turning to the biased and plainly wrong opinions presented by the likes of Nicholas Wirz, via the College of Policing and the NWEF.

That is a recipe for disaster. Just as our wrong-headed driver in Burton-On-Trent would discover.

So back to our quasi-judicialness.  The decision of a SMP is final and is binding on all parties (save if appealed via Regulation 31 or Regulation 32) or challenged by way of judicial review.  This is the only meaning implied by the Regulations in a judicial sense.

Scotland has The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which is the independent public prosecution service for Scotland and is an inquisitorial legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case.  England & Wales does not have anything remotely close to this.

Dr Vivian, the NWEF, and Wirz should not be quoting Scottish law to bolster their biased and self-serving perversions of the Regulations. That itself is bad enough, and is unprofessional in the extreme, but we are appalled to see them use these false arguments to attempt to bully and bluster vulnerable disabled people into compliance with their extra-regulatory demands.

The role of a SMP is not quasi-judicial.  The decision of a SMP is quasi-judicial insomuch that it is a decision which invokes finality and has to be implemented. Dr Vivian, please take note.