Lesley-Anne Knowles

A Question of What’s Right. Please Participate

A Question of What’s Right.  Please Participate

Then there was a man, smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power ― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the most ethical choice? Above is a demonstration of what we asking of you here.

Notwithstanding that the Regulations do not allow such a perversion of its application we need your help to decide whether, those who pull the levers of power in the land of injury awards (such as Wirz, Cheng, Broome etc), are true psychotics.

You may think the question that follows is an abomination.  That it is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.  Unfortunately this is a fallacy.  Northumbria police are enacting variations on their theory of all injury awards shall be undone.  Under the mask of they have to “test” the law.

So let us rephrase the question…

There is a pedestrian who is a retired injured police officer with SEVERE PTSD with absolutely no capacity to earn. Unable to cope with life he has retreated into his mind. In a shocking moment with his headphones on he is mowed down by A car after the driver failed to notice the traffic lights had changed. He survived but is damned to spend the rest of his days hospitalised in a persistent vegetative state.

The Unmasking of Cheng’s OHS Partners

The Unmasking of Cheng’s OHS Partners

“Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect any who seek it.”
Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

What shocks us the most about the National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum (NWEF previously NAMF) is that occasionally it doesn’t even try to hide how biased it, and some of it’s attendees, actually are.  For example, Nicholas Wirz’s opinion of the Fisher judgement in the March 2017 minutes.  Wirz says the uninjured comparator has been clarified as being the police salary when “the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy. Oh my! Well… that’s a jump.

The author of this blog was sat in the public gallery at the Fisher judgement throughout the hearing and what Wirz claims to be the opinion of the court was never said.  The court clearly stated the police salary should be considered as the lowest starting point – nothing was touched on about being otherwise healthy; Wirz has made that bit up! Just in case there has been a lapse of memory, the transcript has been read and reread.   Nope, nothing like Wirz’s take on it there. Typical example of Wirz’s ability to put a spin on things to suit his own purposes – which, in respect of the NWEF is to mislead and misdirect.

We know exactly what Wirz is trying to infer here and will talk about his “otherwise healthy” in another blog – he is truly the gift that keeps giving blog material.

The Forum’s prejudices are so obvious as to be blinding – they obscure its baby steps towards being self-proclaimed experts in the Police Regulations. There is nothing certain elements within the NWEF would like more than to see regional units set up to administer all aspects of police ill health and injury pensions, from grant to grave.

These units would be controlled from the centre by the usual suspects, including Wirz, who would carefully select SMPs whose decisions would suit their paymasters. The current police pension authorities would be happily sidelined. They are all, bar the Met, City of London and the Police service of Northern Ireland, local Chief Constables. Everything would be delegated to the regional centres.

IODPA is unhappy with the built-in conflict of interest having Chief Constables in charge of injury pensions – some have shown a determined desire to treat them as a drain on scarce resources rather than honour the scope and purposes of the Regulations. However, should regional units come into being, there is very real concern the Home Office would lurking in the background, pulling the strings.

Thus, even those decent forces which have tried to honestly administer injury pensions would be compelled to see its disabled former officers face the horrors of medical assessments by dubious SMPs who would be under instructions to reduce pension payments by whatever means they think they can get away with.

Like an invading species, NWEF is taking up the ground vacated by the good, honest administrating civilians as they leave in disgust or retire.  Affected, or should we say infected forces are left with a skills gap allowing NWEF to doorstep the senior ranks saying they are the answer.  The warped an unlawful NWEF view of how the Regulations should be applied then becomes the new norm, and NWEF are a step closer to changing the culture.  Seeing the progression gradually happen, when it can be so easily countered, frightens us.

An example of the creep is evidenced in those who go to NWEF conferences.  The most recent conference saw a mob-handed turn-out by Staffordshire. Coincidentally this was at the time when they were forming the intent to start a mass review program of injury pensions.

There are many other things which bother us about those who attend the NWEF’s meetings, but one thing which stands out a lot at the moment is the attendance of an individual named Sally Waterlow.

She is listed as an attendee in September 2012, March 2014, December 2015, September 2016 and March 2017.

Who is she, and why are we interested in her?  Back in 2012 it appears she worked for the Metropolitan Police in a HR role, with some responsibility for ill health pensions.

The September 14th 2012 minutes contain this statement:

Sally Waterlow (SW) from the Metropolitan Police advised that they were considering withdrawing the services of the SMPs within their force altogether.

Indeed, the Met did decide not to hold further regular reviews of degree of disablement in regard to injury pensioners, and we know that one SMP, a Dr William Cheng did not have his contract renewed. Our Sally then pops up as attending later NAMF conferences – this time as a representative for a company called OHS Partners, with the job description of ‘Advisor to SMP’.

Here is a picture grab of the September 2016 NWEF minutes:

OHS Partners is a company which lists the profile of a single SMP, namely said Dr William Cheng. In fact, Dr Cheng is the company. OHS is merely a convenient, and no doubt tax-efficient, vehicle for him to tout his particular brand of medical services. He is the sole director – a group of four fellow-directors all jumped ship in November 2015. Perhaps they could see the stormy, rocky shore ahead.

The Internet domain registration of ohspartners.co.uk was submitted by a company called Partners Occupational Medical Services Ltd.  As mentioned above, the sole director of this company is William Cheng as can be seen by this director report.

For our Sally Waterlow to leave the Met and then join this tinpot company we can only suspect she would’ve had to been secretly lobotomised — perhaps by members of the NAMF’s impeccably fair and impartial board. In the dead of night. Silently, without remorse. Chloroform, a hacksaw, a scalpel.  Or she had an entirely rational, but highly dubious motivation

Our guess is that the NWEF chair, Lesley-Ann Knowles, will not give a monkey’s about the fact how it looks when Sally was given actions by the NWEF to introduce NWEF to her own contacts.  In 2014 Sally was actioned to approach her own ‘friend’ with an ‘in’ to the Home Office, minuted as:

Finally, Sally Waterlow advised of a useful contact to the group, Avril Cooper, who is advising the Home Office from a practitioner’s perspective.

It seems Avril Cooper was in 2014 Head of Occupational Health with the Metropolitan Police, as she appears as such in the list of attendees to a NAMF meeting in June of that year. In 2013 Avril was representing ACPO on the official side of the now defunct Police Negotiating Board at a Police Arbitration Tribunal. She was there with Peter Spreadbury, who is the Head of the unit within the Home Office which deals with all matters concerning police injury pensions.

Sally Waterlow’s ‘friend‘, Avril Cooper, is also mentioned in Police Advisory Board’s 28 July 2016 meeting held at the Home Office’s address of 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.

At the SAB meeting of 8 July PFEW shared their paper in response to this review. It was also agreed that Avril Cooper (MET) should be invited to share with the SAB findings from a Metropolitan Police survey which was first to be shared with the National Attendance Management Forum.

We would also figure that Ms Knowles, who is employed as a HR director for Northumbria Police, wouldn’t really care that Cheng has been given a contract for work at tri-service conglomerate of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police forces.  Just look at this contract, valued at £576 000, and who it was awarded to:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Notice_JAN120043.pdf”]

Name and address of economic operator to whom the contract has been awarded


Partners Occupational Medical Services Ltd

208 Green Lanes, Palmers Green

London

N13 5UE

UK

william.cheng@ohspartners.co.uk

+44 2079287080

Oh! Dr Cheng with an ohspartners.co.uk email address …  quelle surprise!

So, we have Sally Waterlow and Dr Cheng clearly linked in some way. And Sally has contacts within the Home Office, which means so does the supposedly impartial independent medical  assessor, Dr Cheng.

Ms Knowles would also be sanguine, hunkered down behind that familiar defence of: ‘If IODPA think we’re biased then we must be getting it right’ — a self-justifying falsehood if ever there was one.

Knowles will probably dispatch some overpaid, half-witted, oleaginous middle-managing  gimp to placate the complainants that to award a contract to the boss of someone who attended her own conferences stinks; while assuring anyone asking that they are wrong in every respect and that, within NWEF, everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. As it always is.

And yet the complainants are right, surely.

The horror when this unexpected eventuality dawns upon someone that can actually do something about this will be our greatest pleasure of the year.

Until then we will point to the truth, and NWEF will continue it’s embarrassing trajectory to oblivion.

It was pretty much ever thus with the NWEF.  You may have heard  the comments made by some which claim our coverage is guilty of bias.  We can take that hit  – we reveal the other side to the NWEF coin and we always provide links to the source.

Our view is let the reader decide, so we are never inclined to take the complaints very seriously. But a senior ranking apparatchik said once: ‘What you have to understand, is that only the bad and the mad attend NAMF.’ That was from a senior member of a force that refuses to send delegates to NWEF, since you asked.

Stories of bureaucratic profligacy and incompetence will continue.

The bias we report is so evident, so obvious, so blinding that it sometimes obscures the fact that the awarding of the Cheng contract has a distinctly criminal whiff about it.

We thought you should know about these close links – please come to your own conclusions why Sally Waterlow fervently goes to NWEF conferences . . .

 

 

Comparisons

Comparisons

“Comparisons are odious.”
Attr. to John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440.

In this blog we will be looking briefly at the inconsistencies, irrelevancies and plain old deliberate contrivances used by some HR people and some SMPs in their desperate and immoral attempts to swindle retiring injured police officers out of their correct level of injury pension.

It has become common practice in certain force areas for horses to be compared to geese and sheep. By which we mean that when a police pension authority sets out to retire an officer due to disabling injury on duty, they must assess the individual’s degree of disablement. To do this, some engage in an arcane and entirely invented process of comparing what the individual might be able to earn as a disabled former officer, with some other wage.

The ultimate idea is that if the individual could earn as much, or more, after leaving the job, then they would not disabled at all. However, even the most corrupt HR and SMPs tend to be wary of killing the goose which lays the golden eggs, so content themselves with merely manipulating the figures so that the result is a lower injury pension.

Of course, such an approach completely discounts the fact of the injury and the physical and/or mental disablement that the individual has suffered – and will continue to suffer. It has to be remembered that an injury award is only payable where the disablement is determined to be likely to be permanent.

What is at issue is how degree of disablement is arrived at. How HR and SMP collude to come up with a percentage figure.

A quick look at the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 might help understanding.

7-(5) Where it is necessary to determine the degree of a person’s disablement it shall be determined by reference to the degree to which his earning capacity has been affected as a result of an injury received without his own default in the execution of his duty as a member of a police force.

Clearly, most officers apply for an injury pension either shortly before or shortly after they are cast from their force. Equally obvious is the fact that all of them will be have lost their police salary, and it is fair to say that most of them will not have yet actually found a new job, and new earnings.

So, what HR and SMP do is to speculate about an uncertain future, and dream up a scenario where the individual because of their skills, qualifications and experience, might be hired to do a certain job, which pays a certain salary. None of this is reality. It is all maybe and perhaps. Nor is it grounded in practicality. Instead, it is simply assumed, on the thinnest of grounds, that the individual will get a job paying the amount selected.

That in itself is such an unfair and woolly way of looking at earning capacity that it is surprising that it has gained such a foothold in some quarters. We should not be surprised though, because the whole idea of this kind of speculation is to arrive at a degree of disablement which is less than the real circumstances of the injury would otherwise dictate.

If that approach is not bad enough, HR and SMP further collude to ignore the fact that police officers’ pay varies according to where they work. There is a national pay scale, but it is subject to local variation.

Workers in the capital are usually paid higher wages than they would earn elsewhere, as employers have to take account of housing costs and/or commuting costs.

There is increasing concern that the high cost of working in London, and in particular the high cost of housing, makes it difficult to recruit enough staff for the essential services, because people cannot afford to live within a reasonable distance of their work.

A police constable with five years service currently earns a basic salary of £28,098 plus ‘London Weighting’ of £2,373 – that’s some 8.5% more than a colleague in, say, Staffordshire, Merseyside or Northumberland.

The effects of the high cost of working in London spread a considerable way outside the encircling M25. Police officers in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley, Bedfordshire, Hampshire and Sussex all see more in their pay packets than do colleagues in other forces due to something called the South East Allowance. This was introduced in 2001 in recognition of the additional cost of living in the SE of England. Its purpose was to ease issues of recruitment and retention in those forces to which it applied.

So, if HR and SMP chose to compare a high potential wage which they claim the disabled individual could so, in some far-off city, with their former police wage, why do they not take the pay of Metropolitan police officer as the baseline for comparison? And why are overtime payments, which certainly most officers achieve, not added to the calculation?

Some HR and SMPs don’t even use a police wage. They select a nominal figure drawn from data collected by the Office of National Statistics. They seize on an average national wage, which is itself a fantasy, being the result of a 1% sample of the population taken two year’s previously. You don’t need to be a statistician to grasp that an average is pretty meaningless, for in any sample of earnings of a large population, the overwhelming majority will be earning more or less than the average.

What have the HR minions and tame SMPs been doing wrong when they use a heavy dose of wishful thinking to invent the uninjured earning capacity comparator?  Justice Garnham, in Fisher v Northumbria sums up their deliberate mistake nicely:

Since all the claimants appearing before the Board previously worked as police officers, and since the precondition for a claim to an injury award is the fact that the Claimant suffered an injury on duty, the previous police earnings must, it seems to me, at least feature in the Board’s analysis.

Northumbria’s blameworthy brainwave was, as the uninjured Mr Fisher would’ve reached his thirty years, the police salary shall not be the comparator .  They thought wrong.  Those behind the NAMF/NWEF orthodoxy that saw fit to reduce Mr Fisher’s injury pension to a 0% band one never once did justify their position on what Mr Fisher would be earning had he not been injured.  The judge quashed the reduction to the injury pension and surmised that the PMAB:

[…] did not refer to anything evidencing a change in his uninjured earning capacity

The question which still taxes many minds is why their eagerness to find injured comparator jobs in cities with high wages reflecting the inflated cost of living but their consistent unwillingness to look at geographic differences in the uninjured comparator?

We think you can do an immigration job in Heathrow airport”, they say, “but we will use the comparator final salary you had when you retired from Devon & Cornwall Police”.

Justice Garnham continued:

The concept of “earning capacity” in the regulations imports no element of earning prospects and warrants no allowance for market conditions.

In other words, in matters not where the job is – what matters is the person’s ability to do the work.

But if HR are selecting well-paid city jobs and saying the injured officer can perform them in their disabled state, why aren’t they considering higher allowances for non-South East retirees for their uninjured state?

Just because they never served in London or the South East, doesn’t mean they never had the capacity to serve in London or the South East. Police officers can, and do, transfer between forces.  Likewise, if the SMP thinks there is no medical reason why a job in Cardiff can be performed when the former officer resides in Northumberland, where is the medical reason that the alternative uninjured officer couldn’t have progressed up the ranks had the disability not occurred.

This is the realism of the Fisher judicial review.  No longer can the uninjured comparator be, as Justice Garnham put it, based upon vagueness where the:

reasoning on the issue of uninjured earnings capacity is thin in the extreme

The next time a HR minion says you should commute a 600 mile round trip to work in the centre of Cardiff, put to them the question of why they are using a city wage for the job they claim you can do when they aren’t using the South East police salary for the job you can’t do now – but were fully capable of doing when fully fit.

We in IODPA must wonder how many injured and disabled officers were robbed of being paid an injury pension at the highest level – for being totally disabled – at the point of retirement. Surely if an individual has not found work, because they are physically and/or mentally unable to work, then it is wrong to speculate that they could work and earn at some unspecified point in the future?

The Regulations allow for changing circumstances, so if the disabling effects of an individual’s injury substantially improves a year or so after retirement, then the degree of disablement can be put  under review and the amount of pension paid revised accordingly.

The mathematical gymnastics performed with such poor grace but evident crafty nimbleness by HR and SMP are intended to produce a result giving degree of disablement a whole band lower than it should be, and in an increasing number of cases, to deny the grant of an injury award altogether.

Merseyside take contortions of the maths to the extreme with the physics breaking ‘Cirque du Soleil’ manipulations of Peter Owens.  Their questionnaire has the evil voodoo powers of prescience by incomprehensibly figuring out earning capacity in a handful of loaded questions.  When these words of Justice Garnham were read by Merseyside:

The Board simply did not address what the Claimant’s earning capacity would now be if he had not been injured. Even when addressing the possibility that he was suffering from PTSD or his loss of skills, it did so in the context of seeking to determine his injured, not his uninjured, capacity

… their so-called medical retirement officer must have fainted.  Most, if not all, of their degree of disablement calculations are now arguably unlawful and open to a reconsideration.

It’s about time HR minions and give-me-the-money SMPs are made to justify their back-of-the-fag- packet sums. We look forward to further judicial reviews which will build on the case law established in Fisher.

We fully expect that the odious comparisons used by HR and SMPs will be inevitably debunked and demolished. Horse, geese or sheep – their chickens will come home to roost.

Wirz loses High Court challenge

Wirz loses High Court challenge

BREAKING: Northumbria and PMAB’s Regulation 37 methodology DEFEATED in a judicial review.
Fisher, R (on the application of) v The Chief Constable of Northumbria & Anor [2017] EWHC 455 (Admin) (08 March 2017)

Nicholas Wirz, Northumbria Police’s principal solicitor as well as the National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum’s (NWEF/NAMF) self-declared legal advisor, has suffered a humiliating legal defeat over his unlawful interpretation of comparators used by many SMPs and PMABs to calculate earning capacity.

A feature length blog on the implications of the Fisher v Northumbria judgement will follow soon.  This judicial review quashes the decision of a PMAB panel that, in 2016, reduced him from a band 3 to a band 1.  It is the culmination of a 11 year battle fought against Wirz and Northumbria police.

Shockingly this isn’t the first time Mr Fisher has had his injury pension unlawfully reduced.  The Journal (along with The Chronicle, it is part of the North East’s most popular newspaper group) printed in 2008 a feature concerning the odious vendetta of Wirz against this former officer.

In March 1998 The Journal reported that his injury pension had been reduced before, by £1200, only to be restored on appeal.  The article described how Mr Fisher was medically retired from Northumbria police after being called to the Kirkley Hall mink farm on the outskirts of Ponteland, Northumberland, to police an animal rights demonstration, when a cross-breed Rottweiler sank his teeth into his lower right arm. The animal had been fed on the remains of dead minks and Mr Fisher spent five days in hospital undergoing numerous emergency surgeries when the wound became infected.

He needed almost 40 stitches to the gash and his injuries were so severe he lost full control of the fingers in his hand.  This incident was the culmination of fighting the symptoms of PTSD after being injured in an on-duty knife attack in 1992.

The Chronicle recently published that on Wednesday 8th March, Mr Justice Garnham allowed Mr Fisher’s challenge against the Chief Constable of Northumbria and the PMAB:
Bitten policeman battles off bid to slash his pension

The grounds lost by Northumbria have implications on any SMP or PMAB decision where the earning capacity was based on comparative earnings as well as where the decision made fails to give sufficient reasoning to identify, at least, the basis for the medical authority’s conclusion on uninjured comparators.

We will keep our readers up to date on the ramifications and discuss how a reconsideration, or the Pension Ombudsman, can be used to relook at unsafe historical revisions to injury awards.

The decision of the PMAB has been quashed by Justice Garnham.  Points 1 & 4 (below) were won in favour of Mr Fisher and the PMAB decision has been overturned.  Points 2 & 3 failed but the judge made it clear in his judgment that a reasoned decision of uninjured earning capacity has to be made by the decision maker.  The corollary is that picking random jobs has to be justified and reasoned.

The PMAB, as a delegated decision maker on behalf Of the Chief Constable, made the following errors in reaching this decision:

  • The PMAB erred because it failed to use the Claimant’s potential police earnings as the uninjured earnings comparator;
  • Further the Chief Constable erred in back-dating the effect of the decision to 27 February 2015 and thus claiming that the Chief Constable had overpaid the Claimant when, in law, the decision only took effect at the date that it was made by the PMAB and so there no back-dating.

 

Reviews are just like painting the Forth Bridge, claim Merseyside

Reviews are just like painting the Forth Bridge, claim Merseyside

“Painting the Forth Bridge” is a colloquial expression for a never-ending task, coined on the erroneous belief that at one time in the history of the bridge repainting was required and commenced immediately upon completion of the previous repaint.  Such a practice never existed, as weathered areas were given more attention, but there was a permanent maintenance crew.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forth_Bridge

We have to laugh at the brass neck of Merseyside Police. According to Supernintendo Markay & Peter Owens the purpose of injury award reviews is to save money. That’s the stated, written into policy objective of the terrible-twosome who perform the dubious role of Merseyside’s medical retirement officers (MRO). They no doubt think that as soon as they have gone through the list and attempted to tar all IOD pensioners with the same band-one-brush, then hey-ho, it’s time to start up again to continue the misery, until everyone damn lot of them is whittled down to a band one.

The hypothetical question we have to ask is: once all are band one, will they wash the brush with white spirit, put the tar bucket in the shed and then leave the pensioners to peel and blister without applying any new coats ever again?  Will a single disabled former officer be left in peace, or will Merseyside ensure they all are reviewed regularly for the rest of their lives?

Both Markay and Owens are guilty of unleashing a form of barbarism against those injured on duty from this force, on the basis of a misconceived grasp of the Regulations, alternative truth, and spin. They intend, by their review policy to interfere in disabled people’s lives, to maintain them in a state of financial uncertainty, and to subject them to regular intrusive inquisitions, all in the name of their perverted and utterly unsupportable view of what the Regulations require.

They are determined, indeed, required by the force’s policy, which they seem to see as more important that the rule of law, to regularly demand that IOD pensioners declare any 10% increase in earnings. In the strange world occupied by Markay and Owens there is the belief that if someone sees a 10% increase in earnings then their degree of disablement will probably have altered substantially. However, they, very tellingly, have decided not to ask IOD pensioners to report a 10% decrease in earnings. They are not bothered by that inconsistency as fairness is not part of their game plan.

Do you remember this, below excerpt, from a letter penned by Owens to a person with an IOD award?  The bit about a salary increase is in red.  Note well that there’s nothing about a salary decrease.  In Owens’s world it’s a one-way-street with skills, and earnings dictating the degree of disablement. Leaving aside that the Regulations speak of the capacity to earn, not what might result from that capacity, we see again the one-sided, biased, money-saving objective. Gain a skill and your degree of disablement must have increased. No mention of skills eroding over time due to lack of opportunity to keep them honed and current. On this one way street, there is no traffic in the other direction. Skills can be acquired but never lost, earnings can increase but never decrease, co-morbidity can overtake the index injury never the opposite.

During the EU referendum campaign, there were many spurious overblown claims by leavers and remainers which ran fast and loose with the truth. Those scare tactics were but small fry, infinitesimally small fry, in comparison with the guff Markay and Owens are coming out with. For Peter Owens to create a policy to review injury awards and then to crow about the money he saved, whilst neglecting the laws broken and lives ruined, is an affront to truth and decency and reason.  It will cause suicides.  It may have already, we just don’t know all what happens after ‘they’ fire the gun at their target. No self-respecting citizen should put up with it.

We have a copy of Merseyside’s processes for the review of injury awards and it apparently relies heavily on a devoutly orthodox take on NAMF (now NWEF) guidance

[pdf-embedder url=”http://iodpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Merseyside-injury-pension-review-process-dj2016-161.pdf” title=”Merseyside injury-pension-review-process-dj2016-161″] (3 pages – hover cursor & navigate with bottom left arrows)

Advised not to have an age limit for holding reviews by a weasily solicitor plying his trade in Northern police force?  Don’t worry – have a limit anyway.   How can someone who has evidently heard of the word ‘discrimination’, even uttered by someone else, write such tosh?

The advice from the author of the NAMF guidance is that no upper limit should be used due to age discrimination. I have noted that some forces have considered using seventy years of age as an upper limit and to date Merseyside have used a ceiling of 65 years.

For the rolling review program, Merseyside policy ignores band one and focuses it’s attention more forcibly on those that cost the most.  Discrimination incarnate.

As previously reported injury award reviews have been prioritised with Band 4 reviews being undertaken first then Band 3 awards and finally Band 2. Band 1 awards are not subject of this review.

Of course, we regularly say that anything written by Nicholas Wirz automatically disqualifies itself. But it seems Merseyside take the spoutings of NAMF/NFEW that much further.  Take this rotten festering sore of a sentence found in page two:

When considering the implications of example 4 it is inevitable that a large proportion of ex-officers would have their injury awards reduced to Band 1.

Let us translate the above quote lifted from the policy.  They are saying if someone’s index injury has not improved, that if there are no jobs available that were not available or if no new skills are evident, but the former officer has developed cancer, then Merseyside are happy to reduce them to a band one.  Sod the consequences.

What about our more likely, real-life example that avoids Merseyside’s cliff-edge.  A former officer retired with physical injuries who developed a mental illness due to the adverse psychological effects resulting from being physically injured and disabled.  Over the years their injuries got somewhat better but their mental illness progressively worsened.  Should they be reduced to a band one by Merseyside?  Their disability is still a duty injury – they wouldn’t have mental health problems if they had not been injured on duty. It would be unlawful to reduce someone in such a situation, just as it is morally corrupt to reduce an injury pension because a person has cancer or Parkinson’s disease.  Why would Markay and Owens take a different position? … because they are delusional about the Regulations and blinded by their objective to save money, that’s why.

The 2010 Doubtfire (& Williams) judicial review sheds light on the truth that the focus is always on the disability, not the diagnosis.  We will return to Doubtfire & Williams (a dual hearing involving West Mercia and, quelle surprise, Merseyside) in another blog post.

What about the acquisition of skills being a two-way street?  As we mentioned above, Merseyside states that new skills can improve job prospects and thus earnings but nowhere does it say that the loss of skills, by being out of the job market, can reduce earning capacity.  Why is this?  Rhetorical question, of course.  It isn’t mentioned as this doesn’t allow Owens & Markay to work towards reducing all IOD pensioners to a band one.

Is anyone still in any doubt about the Mersyside’s nefarious position that reviews of degree of disablement are a cash-cow to recoup money? Look the last paragraph on page two.

In summary ten per cent of questionnaires sent out at this time have produced ongoing savings of approximately £30,000 per annum. [Exempt information section 40(2) Freedom of information Act, 2000, the personal data exemption].

We haven’t missed the stated implication that the questionnaire has led to the reduction, not the medical decision of a SMP.  Why employ a gun-for-hire SMP when a poxy and fallacious questionnaire combined with the stroke of Owens’s pen can do the dirty deed?

The policy sums up the elitism and arrogance and contempt for Regulations of those who just cannot accept that deserving people were given injury awards.

Wirz, Markay and Owens, and their coterie within the NFEW can’t get their heads around this. They are riddled with prejudice and are dismissive of the rights of disabled folk. They have produced policies and guidance which contravene the Regulations, and have done this not out of simple stupidity, but from a misplaced and wholly erroneous conviction that IOD pensioners need to be continually harassed in an attempt to reduce the impact of injury pensions on forces’ budgets.

Anyone with a brain can see that only a small minority of the people involved must actually believe the tripe that Merseyside uses to justify their position. They go along with it, for the sake of not poking their heads above the parapet. They value their jobs more than their conscience. Nor do those who are the named targets of our criticisms care to attempt a defence. They remain silent and acquiescent, for they dare not do otherwise. Our blogs remain unchallenged, for there is no riposte to the truth.

How can anyone with any knowledge of the Equality Act and the legal requirement for reasonable adjustments think that, just like the idiom of painting the Forth bridge, a future review can be scheduled immediately after the current one has finished?

Merseyside is disdainful of the law, and of the rights of disabled people:

On completion of this initial phase of injury award reviews the process will recommence and will be ongoing with new cases that have received awards in the preceding two years and also the reviews conducted at the start of this process will be due their next review.

Hogwash.

We now must speak in the language of revolution.  We must ‘rise up’. There is need for a ‘revolt’, by ‘force of argument’, against the dangerous madness of the policy espoused by Merseyside.

NARPO and the Police Federation need to take Merseyside to task and join with IODPA in condemning the concept of regular, repeated reviews.

IODPA’s advice to any IOD pensioner caught up in a revolving review program is they should seek redress in an Employment Tribunal for post-employment disability discrimination and subsequent victimisation.

Natural Justice: The Rule Against Bias

Natural Justice: The Rule Against Bias

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

British justice, the sense of fair play and the British Police Service have been the envy of the world. It is somewhat ironic that injured Police officers who have lost their police careers have to fight to be treated fairly, and be treated in keeping with the scope and intentions of the Regulations, which are there to compensate them for their injury and consequent loss of earning capacity.

The fight over the 15 years has culminated in over 22 High Court Judicial reviews and 43 Pension Ombudsman decisions regarding  maladministration of Police Injury Awards. British Justice still lives within our Courts and arbiters. It is of little surprise that the decisions overwhelmingly remedy the injustices former injured officers have endured.

The rules of natural justice

The rules of Natural Justice require all trials and hearings to be rooted in fairness . Following the case of Re HK (an infant) (1967)  the phrase “act fairly” was established making it incumbent on all  decision makers to act fairly. There are two parts to the rule:

  1. Audi alteram partem – “hear the other side” or “let the other side be heard as well.”
  2. Nemo judex in res sua – “no one  should be a judge in his own cause” – A pecuniary interest in the outcome of the decision gives rise to automatic disqualification. Also known as the rule against bias.

Following on from our blog “The Judicial Fallacy” we need to explain that the term judex (simply translated as judge) within Nemo judex in res sua  extends beyond judges to all statutory decision makers. This, just in case some SMPs and Mr Wirz start to believe their own hype that they are judges.

Notwithstanding copious direction from the Courts, some scheme managers and SMPs have shown themselves unable, or perhaps unwilling, to apply the Regulations. It is because of this entrenched mindset we at IODPA thought it would be of benefit for decision makers to be educated in respect of their responsibilities.

Whilst the Home Office guidance 46/2004 has been deemed unlawful and withdrawn following the High Court decisions in Laws and Simpson it demonstrates   how the Audi alteram parterm rule can apply.

Some Police Pensions Authorities (Chief Constables), HR, and SMPs  fervidly embraced the unlawful aspects of this guidance and some still do. Despite a legion of in-house lawyers and CIPD qualified HR personnel, no one thought that guidance is unnecessary if the Regulations are followed.  Guidance only becomes a thing if the intention is to bend the rules.  Just as Al Qaeda’s Management of Savagery is a manual for how to wage war by creating religious resentment and violence, guidance has historically been used to square a circle, to give excuses to override Holy text and provide bureaucrats a means to blindly follow orders.

The law is the form of the Police Injury Benefit Regulations and case law.  This simplicity had to be spelled out in the Simpson case ruling that PPAs can’t usurp the law through guidance !!! Luckily, it wasn’t all 43 Police Pension authorities that wandered, zombie like, into the trap.

So with the advent of the Home Office guidance and a stroke of a pen many pensioners were dropped to Band 1. The decision makers’ minds were closed, the poor pensioners weren’t allowed to make representation or even have their voices heard… Audi alteram partem. This struck to the heart of fairness, our Courts and Judges world renowned for their sense of justice did not allow this dreadful state of affairs to triumph.

We at IODPA have raised previously concerns about guidance emanating from the National Attendance Management Forum. (Now re-branded as the National Well-Being and Engagement Forum – NWEF). We regard it as yet another crude attempt to usurp the Police Injury Benefit Regulations and case law. We regard the NAMF guidance as a resurrection of the unlawful Home Office guidance. The NAMF guidance does not operate in a vacuum: understanding the context in which it operates is necessary. Re-branded, but with the same people at the helm, NWEF still holds regular meetings, but the fact that not all 43 forces subscribe to this forum or attend its meetings should tell the organisers something.

During NWEF events Nicholas Wirz tells the force Solicitors, FMAs, SMPs and HR minions that a pensioners doctor’s opinion cannot be relied on.

…It is also not uncommon for that specialist to be provided with the incorrect legal test, in which case their conclusions need to be treated with caution.[…] This can often be the case with reports produced by a treating physician in support of their patient…[]

A common occurrence is for the treating physician to “fudge” the issue(SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION

This is nothing more than a shameful attempt to uniformly denigrate  good, honest, hardworking GPs who have witnessed the physical and mental health of their patients deteriorate, been involved in treatment plans and best placed to comment on the efficacy of them. These practitioners are always best placed to provide the definitive medical opinion.

However, Mr Wirz believes they are prone to provide false opinion. Really? So honest hard-working practitioners of medicine who are not paid by the PPA or the pensioner and who are bound by professional ethics are not to be relied on? What is it which drives Witz and his followers’ false belief that it is only the opinion of SMP’s which is sacrosanct or unbiased? That Wirz saw fit to make such a telling observation reveals that his mind is crammed full of both conscious and unconscious bias.

The SMPs are being paid for by the PPA and are being trained by Wirz. Anecdotal evidence and feedback we’ve had from members is that SMPs have quoted Home Office guidance as well as NAMF guidance. Well, if they are approaching the assessment with a closed mind then we would say that the pensioner will not be heard as the SMP has closed his/her mind to any other view than that of the NAMF guidance.

 Now turning to the rule against bias  nemo judex in res sua Lord Denning summarised this rule in Metropolitan Properties Ltd Lannon [1969] CA.

“The reason is plain enough. Justice must be rooted in confidence: and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking: ‘The judge was biased’.”

The term judge incorporates decision makers such as SMP’s and PMAB members, just in case you missed it earlier decision makers and not Judges in the Judicial sense. So if we surveyed right-minded people, would they think that pensioners were not only treated fairly but seen to have been treated fairly?

We think not for the following reasons :-

NAMF training and guidance – So the delegates consist of FMAs, SMPs, PMAB members,  force Solicitors and HR personnel. We’ve made it plain that the NAMF guidance has no basis in law, yet the principles incorporated within this document are being mis-sold as the lawful regulatory framework to SMPs. We also believe it is inappropriate for  SMPs who are meant to act as independent decision makers  to attend such events and then apply these principles. What if the Police Federation held such events and invited medical experts they instruct, how would you feel about that Mr Wirz?

The fact is not lost on us that HML, the company who manage the PMAB process, no longer attends NAMF meetings, why not? Has the penny dropped that such conduct is not acceptable ?

Some PMAB members far from being fair and open minded are in fact closed-minded acolytes of Mr Wirz and NAMF. Did they think that if HML just slipped out no-one would notice? Especially not the injured pensioners who have been experienced and trained investigators.

SMPs  and the  HR partnership – The late Dr Sampson and Mr Steven Mitchell from Nottinghamshire HR have jointly given presentations. We would invite you to have a look.  Both are eager to  convey how much money can be saved.

No onlooker would conclude that this appropriate. What if Dr Sampson hadn’t saved Nottinghamshire Police money, would he have lost his lucrative contract? Well we need to go to Avon and Somerset to show what happens when SMPs can’t be tamed.

The Avon and Somerset PCC’s Agenda – Mountstevens thinks those that have lost their Police careers and their health by putting themselves in harms way are a financial burden. She does not care about the moral or legal obligations enshrined in the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

Don’t take our word for it,  she has been caught out writing to the Policing minister,  take a peek. The then Policing Minister (Damian Green) has pointed out the obligations of police pension scheme managers are enshrined in law, and gives his direct opinion that it is right there should be provision for police officers injured in the line of duty. His letter can easily be read as a coded message to scheme managers: don’t approach the administration of injury awards from the viewpoint of looking to save money.

Selection and Deselection –We at IODPA do not believe it coincidental that honest SMPs, such as the fair and just Dr Jo Judge (now retired Dyfed Powys FMA used briefly by Avon and Somerset) who have retained officers on Band 4, i.e. the most disabled and thus the most costly, are no longer engaged as SMPs by forces who want to reduce their financial commitments.

Those that can be enticed to adopt the PCC’s mantra are handsomely awarded such as FMA Dr Bullpitt as well as Dr Johnson SMP. Dr Bullpitt has also lobbied the GMC and Home Office to be exempted from GMC guidance. Really??

Dr Bullpitt’s devious wish to remove the protections of GMC guidance for a hand-picked and specially chosen disabled few, just because they are members of the public in receipt of injury awards, is of serious concern.  It goes against equality law, human rights legislation and codes of conduct. All professions are subject to regulation be it Police Officers through the Conduct Regulations, Solicitors via the Solicitors Regulatory authority, even Judges and MP’s are not exempt, that’s what you expect in a fair minded democracy, no one is above oversight. Yet Dr Bullpitt wants this exemption… why ?

So would the right-minded think police pensioners are treated fairly ? We think not.

The rule against bias compels decision makers to  leave aside prejudices and preconceptions In the case of  R v Bingham Justices ex p Jowitt (1974) QBD a  magistrate said

“My principle in such cases has always been to believe the evidence of the police officer.”

We believe this is no difference to SMPs approaching their duties under the influence of NAMF guidance, for example dismissing the pensioner’s specialist’s or GP’s opinion.

The test of apparent bias has  developed through  case law. In R v Barnsley Licensing Justices, Ex p Barnsley and District Licensed Victuallers’ Association [1960], Devlin LJ recognised:

“Bias is or may be an unconscious thing and a man may honestly say that he was not actually biased and did not allow his interest to affect his mind, although, nevertheless, he may have allowed it unconsciously to do so”.

Lord Denning MR, in Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v Lannon [1969] recognised:

“The court looks at the impression which would be given to other people. Even if he was as impartial as could be, nevertheless if right-minded persons would think that, in the circumstances, there was a real likelihood of bias on his part, then he should not sit. And if he does sit, his decision cannot stand . . . “

In R v Sussex Justices Ex parte McCarthy (1924) KBD the Defendant  appeared before the justices on a charge of dangerous driving, the clerk to the court was acting in parallel civil proceedings for  the other party.  This case led to the  celebrated maxim:

 it [… ] is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”

During the inquest of “The Marchioness” disaster, the coroner was heard to have  described some of the victims relatives in attendance as “unhinged” and “mentally unwell” indicating  the presence  of unconscious bias. A different  coroner was required to resume the decision making process R v Inner West London Coroner ex parte Dallaglio (1994) “The Marchioness.”

We know through anecdotal evidence and having seen the SMP reports first hand of such bias. Comments such as ill-health retirement being a tactic purely in pursuance of a favourable exit packages, physical injuries being psychosomatic and ignoring specialist medical evidence are not uncommon. Dr Nightingale and Dr Willy Cheng are particularly adept at this malevolent projection. Dr Cheng goes the extra mile and repeats these attacks in PMAB hearings seemingly without challenge.

In R v Gough [1993], Lord Goff  formulated the test for apparent bias in the following terms:

 “the simple fact that bias is such an insidious thing that, even though a person may in good faith believe that he was acting impartially, his mind may unconsciously be affected by bias . . .”.

The accepted test for apparent bias is from Porter v Magill [2001] HL, para 103:

“whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased”.

We at IODPA have been asked to demystify some of the hocus-pocus which some police pension authorities rely on. We hope that by showing how, through the resurrection in the form of NAMF guidance, erroneous Home Office guidance 46/2004 has, brought about a fresh wave of pension maladministration. Lazy, incompetent, HR managers with only scant knowledge of the Regulations, and no familiarity with the basic concepts of justice within the law, as have been briefly set out here, are tempted to turn to the chocolate teapot uselessness of guidance issued by people who seem to be incapable of freeing themselves of the most pernicious forms of bias.

We hope that this whistle-stop tour through the law will help in the demystification. The Chief architect of the NAMF guidance, Mr Wirz, is a lawyer (albeit not a very good one) and he more than most will come to realise that it is through the protections which the law provides to the victims of malpractice, we will continue to forcibly remind him and the NAMF acolytes of their shortcomings.

Mr Wirz we would like to remind you of another  legal maxim:

 “The law is a shield and not a sword”.

Whilst you wrongly quote and twist law to use it as a sword against police pensioners we will use the law as a shield. Natural Justice underpins Judicial Review and at present count it’s the Police Pensioners who are winning countless Judicial Reviews.  Does that not tell you something, Mr Wirz?

We will continue to educate and enlighten police pensioners to their rights and point out your wrongs, in right is might!

 

 

 

 

 

The Judicial Fallacy

The Judicial Fallacy

“All the fallacies of human reason had to be exhausted, before the light of a high truth could meet with ready acceptance.”
Friedrich Max Müller

Here at IODPA we are seeing regular references, made by people who should know better, to the Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) having standing  akin to a Coroner or a Judge with case management powers. Indeed some SMPs have referred to themselves as being involved in a judicial process and acting as judges  (not only have we had anecdotal feedback incorporating these common themes, we have seen the reports containing such fallacious proclamations firsthand).

Before we look at the veracity of these claims  and their origins a brief understanding of the law is required. So lets test the proposition; is the claim of an SMP being a Judicial Office Holder valid or a convenient  invention?

Origins

The doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the cornerstone of our democracy. This legal doctrine means that parliament makes the law in the form of Statutes and gives authority to the provision of secondary legislation such as the Police Injury Benefit Regulations.

The Brexit debate and recent Miller case has brought this sharply into focus. In the Simpson High Court Judgement it was ruled that the attempt by a Home Office Civil Servant to issue guidance undermined Regulations and Case law. You cannot usurp Parliamentary Sovereignty and import meaning or intention which does not exist. The Home Office withdrew its guidance and directed Chief Constables to legislation and case law as referenced in the Simpson Judgement.

NAMF

The rule of law is another fundamental concept in our legal traditions. As Police Officers we had to accept the decisions of the courts after all we were servants of the law. The Home Office had no choice but to rightly recognise their errors when they were ruled to have acted unlawfully by Mr Justice Supperstone, and (with rapped knuckles and burnt fingers) withdrew their guidance as not to prolong their humiliation.

This unlawful guidance was much, much more than just a costly mistake.  Arguably it was pursued voraciously by some forces with eyes wide open.  It made many injured former Police officers face financial ruin including homelessness as well as the emotional trauma.  The costs to the taxpayer were enormous and the only winners would appear to have been the SMP’s paid to conduct these reviews and the Barristers acting for the Police.

Lessons were learnt by some, unlawful reviews were suspended.  The country’s largest force, The Metropolitan Police, does not undertake reviews unless requested by the former officer. However, there were those who couldn’t accept the rule of law; after-all, they parochially thought, why should those who were unable to work or have their earning capacity reduced, having put themselves in harms way and lost their careers and become disabled, receive an injury award?

Well, we have yet to meet a HR minion who has walked a mile in our  shoes, or any distance for that matter. The award is deserved both morally and legally. Parliamentary intention was to recompense Police officers who could no longer serve due to their injuries, the bands reflected the loss in earning capacity. The explanatory memorandum to the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulation was prepared by the Home Office and had been laid before Parliament by Command of Her Majesty; it says without ambiguity that police injury awards:

“…[] are in effect compensation for work-related injuries”7. Policy background EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM 2006 No.932

The void created by the Home Office withdrawing from providing any central guidance was filled by the National Attendance Management Forum ( NAMF ).  Perhaps the Home Office considered that having a proxy would avoid them again facing the wrath of the High Court.

Interestingly not all 43 forces are involved in NAMF. That speaks volumes itself. NAMF is now chaired by the Head of Human Resources at Northumbria Police, Leslie-Ann Knowles, and it’s chief legal advisor is Nicholas Wirz – Solicitor of Northumbria Police. NAMF delegates  have included FMAs, SMPs, PMAB members, HR managers and Force Solicitors  as well as Mr Trevor Forbes who represents Police Forces at PMAB.

Naturally, we at IODPA are concerned about this as it would appear to breach the rule against bias. We’ll leave that issue for another blog and a High Court case submission.

NAMF has devised its own guidance , section 4.3 Case Management Powers of an SMP, there is reference to a quasi-judicial process. Some SMPs have been told they have powers similar to those of a Coroner or a Judge at NAMF training events. The SMPs have repeated this erroneous view in their assessments.  A recurring theme in some reports made by SMPs who have attended courses presented by Wirz, is that they claim the position of ‘SMP’ empowers them to be able to make any direction or demand.  No matter how unreasonable, discriminatory or contrary to primary legislation that demand actually is.

Serving and retired Police officer’s have told us about their assessments, the SMP likening themselves to a judge is a recurring theme.  So the phoenix has risen from the ashes and the Home Office Guidance has been resurrected in the form of NAMF guidance. Our members have repeatedly, and wrongly, been told by SMPs and HR staff that NAMF guidance is mandatory and must be followed.

There is a direct correlation to those forces involved in NAMF, unlawful reviews PMABS and JRs.  Mr Wirz, whose zealousness is not diminished by losing previous High Court cases, continues to spread his views which have no anchor in law.

Compare and contrast

The role of SMP is cited in the regulations. They are medically qualified doctors (or should be, we have encountered a physiotherapist). NAMF have introduced the mandatory requirement that membership of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine is required. SMPs are selected by individual  Police Forces. Coroners on the other hand are experienced lawyers or medical professionals whose appointment is approved by the Chief Coroner and the Lord Chancellor.

Coroners are Judicial Officer holders and must take the judicial oath. Judges are recruited via the Judicial Appointments Commission, their appointment must be approved by the Lord Chancellor, again they are Judicial Officer holders and must take the judicial oath.

Training is organised by the Judicial College, similarly, a formal disciplinary framework exists for the judiciary.  So when did the foundations of constitutional law that has central importance to the maintenance of judicial independence fracture and rip to such an extent to allow SMPs become quasi-Judges and Mr Wirz and NAMF the judiciaries’ training provider?  Of course, in the real world, there has been no such rupture.  The foundations of judicial appointment are still wholly intact.  Only Wirz thinks differently.  The edicts of NAMF cannot stand scrutiny.

The Simpson case should have acted as a warning. The Pensions Ombudsman case in Lightfoot v West Yorkshire Police at paragraph 33 encapsulates how innovation is occurring:

“….As has been found by my office in other cases (for example, Ayres 27979/2 and Sharp 80008/1) it is not appropriate to try and impose a meaning on the relevant Regulations which they do not hold simply because the Home Office (or the WYPA) think that logically they should. This was an error of law, albeit that WYPA was following Home Office guidance and was acting in good faith.”

The status of the SMP has been pushed by NAMF from that of a Doctor to that of a Judge.  This leap has no basis in law.  Legal chicanery as a description does a disservice because this goes far beyond that into the realms of a fantasist.

Powers conferred on police officers by primary legislation, such as those defined by Police and Criminal Evidence Act, are a statutory licence that do not empower any judicial functions onto an Inspector, say, authorising a search.  Can that Inspector forgo the need to reasonably believe the premises may contain evidence linked to the offence in question?  Of course not.  Taking the illogical thinking of Wirz to the extreme, if the Inspector thought the same as a SMP, and considered they were a judge, they could ignore PACE and sign their own warrant of entry.

The SMP is not a judicial office holder but a doctor  – a medical authority asked to answer a statutory question based on available medical evidence, in the same manner as a power of entry and search under s18 cannot be exercised without the statutory requirement of prior written authorisation of an officer of the rank of inspector or above.

A SMP can’t invent evidence.  He isn’t a judge in an inquisitorial system –  a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case.  He is a doctor; simply asked a medical question that statute demands a referral to him or her by a police pension authority.  Statute does not gift any magical power to answer the question – only to use his medical training to make sense of the medical information presented to him.

To suggest otherwise is a fallacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas

Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic folklore figure described as “half-goat, half-demon”, who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is the antithesis of the true Saint Nicholas in regions including Northumbria Legal Services,  Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Northern Italy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus

The Christmas season is here!

This time last year we published an IOD themed parody of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.   Rather than starring Ebenezer, our protagonist was a certain senior HR manager of a not-so-imaginary constabulary, hell-bent on reducing the financial impact of those pesky and ‘preposterous injury awards‘™ (©Dr David Bulpitt).

Thankfully, in 2016, that particular HR manager soon was pushed into found  a different job and was no longer tasked with anything injury award related.

A Christmas Carol (Wood)

This year, the ‘fortunate and selfish few‘™ (©Dr David Bulpitt)  would like to apologise in advance to Clement Clarke Moore for taking liberties with his poem  A Visit from St. Nicholas.  We hope it has the same affect on NAMF and their leading acolyte Nicholas Wirz (Principal Solicitor Northumbria Police) as last year’s parody had with Mrs Wood.

Twas the night before Christmas and all though the land,
Those injured on duty were in need of a hand.
The SMPs had excuses all listed with care,
In hopes that injury awards would soon disappear.
“You are just vulnerable!” they all would complain,
We think no-one we see is ever really ill, we’re just on the money gravy-train!”.
When look who appeared! Could this be real?
The Regulations pulling up in a, um … automobile.


“But Nicholas Wirz, is our master when rejecting applications!
and it’s the people at NAMF that tell us to ignore true causation!”
The Regulations smiled at them and encouragingly said,
“It’s up to you to make sure the real law is spread.
You need to ignore Wirz and NAMF and look at the officer’s health.
They need your help, they should have nothing to fear but fear itself.”


“Come closer and listen. If you want to be best,
I’ll share this simple secret to your future success.
If you want to succeed, be real doctors and not complacent,
Remember to always do what’s best for your patients.
WOW the people you examine. Don’t let this ring hollow,
For when you put your patient first, the goodness will follow.”
“Success will be yours when you act like doctors and stop the hustle.
And I’m committed to helping you all be successful!”


“On Judicial Review! On Pension Ombudsman! The bad you do will be chased!
On Case-law! Ignore NAMF guidance! We must make haste!
You shall jettison Wirz! To do it right just abide by me!
Together we can create a lawful Regulation recovery!”


The Regulations winked and smiled; then put the car into gear,
But before driving away, one more statement did we hear.
“Those HR thieves and SMP crooks will soon be all in jail.
And the best SMPs who are true doctors will prevail.”
We heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“This month of Christmas is the start – from now, administer injury awards right!”

Wherever you are in the world, whatever injustice you are fighting, and whoever you’re with, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Thank you for reading our website this year.

Here’s to justice and an even more successful 2017!

NAMF and the Finality of the SMP Report

NAMF and the Finality of the SMP Report

“The purpose of the boards is to consider appeals from police officers or former police officers who are dissatisfied with a decision made by a medical practitioner, selected by the police authority, in relation to their qualifying for ill-health and injury benefits”

― Contract Between the Secretary of State for the Home Department and Health Management Ltd FOR THE PROVISION OF REGIONAL BOARDS OF MEDICAL REFEREES FOR POLICE MEDICAL APPEALS IN GREAT BRITAIN

When the question of the degree of disablement is passed to the Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) the Regulations are quite clear that it is only the SMP  that is able to give a decision:

Reference of medical questions

H1(2) of the 1987 Regulations, a final decision of a medical authority on the said questions under Part H of the 1987 Regulations shall be binding for the purposes of these Regulations

[….]

The decision of the selected medical practitioner on the question or questions referred to him under this regulation shall be expressed in the form of a report and shall, subject to regulations 31 and 32, be final.

(7) A copy of any such report shall be supplied to the person who is the subject of that report.

There is no ambiguity that the question, once answered by the SMP as the medical authority, is anything other than final.

The judiciary agrees with this.

Haworth v PMAB

presumption of finality in respect of the decisions of the material medical authority

Pollard V PMAB

The decision of the SMP on the issues referred to him are final, subject to appeal or a review or reference back (see regulation 30(6))

Crudace V PMAB

The SMP is obliged to produce a report with reasons to explain the basis for his decision on both entitlement and on quantum. Under regulation 30(6) the decision is final subject to any appeal under regulation 31 or a reconsideration under regulation 32(2).

So why does the National Attendance Management Forum (NAMF) state in their non-statutory and misleading ‘guidance’ that the report made by SMP  as the medical authority is not final?  That they proclaim it is the Director of Human Resources as the delegated police pension authority (PPA) that is the ultimate adjudicator, and the SMP report is just an exercisable Pollice Verso – the thumbs down decree of death made by a Caesar upon a fallen gladiator.

Here is the offending paragraph from the NAMF ‘guidance’:

Section 3.6.5

The SMP’s role is to measure degree of disablement using admissible evidence.  On receipt of his decision it is for the PPA to decide whether any identified change in the degree of disablement represents a substantial alteration and if so they shall revise the IOD pension accordingly’

NAMF agrees that the SMP – as the medical authority – gives a decision.  But that is all it gets right.  Remember this is the decision that the Regulations clearly state has to be referred by the PPA to a suitably qualified medical practitioner.

NAMF now goes off into Alice’s Wonderland territory by continuing that a non-medical HR senior manager now determines the ‘determination’ of the degree of disablement by declaring whether he thinks its substantial (or not).

Reading the finality quotes from case law and from the Regulations, there isn’t any allowance or interpretation to permit the medical authority’s decision being over-ruled or quantified by the delegated PPA … quite the opposite.  The high court has determined that the SMP not only considers any alteration on a review but he alone determines whether it is substantial or not – not the Director of HR.

Simpson V PMAB

The only duty on a medical authority when conducting a Regulation 37(1) review is to decide whether, since the award or last review – whichever is the latest – there has been a change in the degree of disablement; whether, in the language of the regulation, there has been a substantial alteration.

One of the many troubling consequences of NAMF ‘guidance’ is that it fails to grasp that Regulation 37 is only a gateway into reviewing the degree of disablement via Regulation 30-2(d).  Their recalcitrant proclamation that a delegated PPA can basically override the medical authority not only has implications at review – it reflects by corrupting the root power that enables a  revision of the degree of disablement; in other words Regulation 30 itself.

NAMF has ignorantly misconstrued, and taken out of context, the wording of Regulation 37 by manipulating the sentence ‘[…]and if after such consideration the police authority find that the degree of the pensioner’s disablement has substantially altered, the pension shall be revised accordingly’, and omitting that the consideration IS the referral to the medical authority under Regulation 30’s ‘Reference of Medical Questions’.  It does not permit a dictatorial decree, in the style of Alan Sugar, by the PPA himself.

Imagine this scenario that is perversely permitted under the NAMF ‘guidance’:

  • The SMP answers the relevant questions from Regulation 30 that the appellant has an injury and is disabled from performing the ordinary duties of a member of the police force.
  • The disablement is likely to permanent.
  • That the condition is the result of of an injury the execution of duty
  • and that the earning capacity has been affected at 40%.
  • * Non-regulatory & unlawful. The PPA now decides that the degree of disablement shouldn’t be 40% – it should be 20%

Or on review:

  • The medical authority determines there has been substantial change to the degree of disablement and revises the award from a band 2 to a band 3
  • *Non-regulatory & unlawful.  The PPA now decides that the degree of disablement does not construe substantial change and orders the award to remain at a band 2.

Can you just imagine how a Director of HR would defend such an horrendous intervention at a PMAB panel or Judicial Review?

Let us emphasise our message to the nth degree that, despite NAMF’s ‘guidance’,  the PPA does not have the final decision regarding determination of the degree of disablement.  This blog  post started off with a quote from the contract between the Home Office and the company selected to administer police medical appeal boards.  The framework mentioned in paragraph 1.3 is that the PMAB considers appeals on the decisions made by the medical practitioner, selected by the pension authority.  Note the distinction between ‘decision made’ and ‘selected by’.

ho contract 1_3

There has obviously been no mention ever, in any judicial review, of the delegated police pension authority having the ultimate decision.  An example being the following Judicial Review .

SOUTH WALES POLICE AUTHORITY (CLAIMANT) -v- THE MEDICAL REFEREE (DR DAVID ANTON) Dr Davies, as the Selected Medical Practitioner, answered the relevant questions from H1(2), in his certificate of 10th January 2002, that Mr Crocker was suffering from “psychotic illness”, and was disabled from performing the ordinary duties of a member of the police force. The disablement was likely to be permanent. He said that the matter should be considered in two years’ time. He said that the condition was the result of an injury received in the execution of duty and that the earning capacity had been affected at 40 per cent.

Of course not, because it is not permitted.  The decision of the medical authority, whether incorrect or not, is final and binding to the PPA.  It can only be appealed by the former officer or taken to Judicial Review by the PPA.

Blindly following NAMF ‘guidance’ is no better than saying we’re ‘just following orders’ and is not a justification for morally questionable actions that a Force  invoke when questioned about the rightness or necessity of such actions.  Just saying ‘we are following NAMF guidance’ does not absolve the HR managers from using their own brains and reading the Regulations and understanding the case law.

Just following orders didn’t work for the Nazis in Nuremberg.

Rules? What Rules?

Rules?  What Rules?

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The authors of this blog have been weighing up what to write for our next post.  Not because we lack material – quite the opposite; in fact we have an embarrassment of material. The embarrassment would be all Avon and Somerset’s if they had any ability to feel shame for what they have done

The reason for our publishing predicament is that at the moment some of the material we’ve gathered from various sources is ground-shatteringly explosive.  It’s an agreeable predicament, in that by writing about it in a public blog we expose the existence of the ticking nuclear device which IOD pensioners have obtained and are preparing to use.  So we won’t ruin the surprise. Let’s just move on for the moment and we can talk about this another time, when the fall-out dust has settled and the heads have rolled.

So, after a bit of consideration, we are back onto our least favourite topic. A topic which makes it hard for us to hold on to our view that human beings generally chose to do the right thing when given a choice between doing harm or doing good. Our hearts sink when we contemplate the walking contradiction which is the supposedly ethical medical doctor who consistently prefers to cause harm rather than do good.  Yes, we are talking about Dr Philip Johnson.

He is the medic who ambled blindly into the role of being the patsy for A&S. We think he was conned. He was told he would be paid handsomely for performing a routine assessment of disabled former officers. A task which would take an hour of his time per pensioner, plus another hour to write up a short report. ‘Nice little earner,’ he was told. ‘We have 480 of them all lined up like ducks in a row.’

Kerching! Johnson did the maths. Visions of barrows loaded with money.

A&S didn’t tell him that two other doctors had been approached earlier and had seen right through the cunning plan devised by A&S to save money by unlawfully reviewing and reducing pension payments made to disabled former officers; 2 doctors that A&S attempted to groom in-house for the exclusive role of reducing the banding of injury awards by any means necessary. Those doctors left suddenly under a cloud – they had declined to prostitute their talents by dancing to A&S’s tune (that’s a story deserving of its own blog post).

His dreams of cash-flow were soon shattered when he realised it wasn’t about to be so easy. There was a small problem called the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. It came as a shock to him to realise that he actually had to follow them. You see, Johnson was told otherwise.

He was subjected to a ‘training event’ held at the College of Policing. The core of this ‘training’ was a rambling load of crap delivered by none other than that fine upstanding example of legal rectitude, Nicholas Wirz, who is the head solicitor for Northumbria Police. He is the pheasant plucker who advised Northumbria’s SMP Dr Broome to unlawfully reduce the pensions of some 70 disabled elderly former officers to band one.

Yes, you read that right. A solicitor whose advice was to do something against the law, on the basis that the intended victims were too weak to do anything about it.

When the inevitable applications for appeal were made, our old Nick threatened the applicants (he would say he warned them) that their appeals would be deemed vexatious (where have we heard that word more recently?) and they would have to pay £6,200 adverse costs when their appeals failed.

Johnson had soaked up the wonderful professional atmosphere of the College, enjoyed the socialising with his intellectual equals, and hung on the words of the eminent legal expert Wirz. Being naïve, Johnson took as gospel everything Wirz and his little sidekick Trevor Forbes had to say.

But when pensioners began to tell him that he was breaking the law, that he was not following the Regulations and that they would not bow to his ridiculous demands to allow him unrestricted access to their medical records from birth, and that if he insisted then they would be seeking legal representation – from a proper solicitor – he slowly began to realise that his nice little earner was in fact a purse of counterfeit currency.

He turned to the other ‘organisation of excellence’ the National Attendance Management Forum (NAMF).

Before detailing how the NAMF influenced Johnson we have to divert for a moment and wonder what a bunch of HR functionaries and others are doing when they diversify from discussing issues around why employees go sick and what can be done about it, to issuing detailed so-called guidance on complex legal matters concerning police injury pensions.

For that is what the NAMF did. It produced some guidance for SMPs like Johnson. Presumably on the basis that some SMPs were so thick they couldn’t be trusted to understand the Regulations and apply caselaw properly.

Johnson was fully trained and guidanced-up. He was good to go.

Then it all went pear shaped, with queries and challenges. And that was when he showed his true colours. That was the moment when he had a choice to make. Brave soul that he is, he did not hesitate – and chose to cover his substantial ass. He chose self preservation over doing the decent thing.

Drawing on his considerable Army experience, (and on the Book of Wirz) he decided the best form of defence was attack. He insisted he was right, that he could demand access to medical records from birth. In this way, he was able to not conclude the reviews he had conducted, and blame the lack of a decision on the pensioners who had failed to cooperate with his demands.

By not making any decisions, he reckoned he could not be criticised as there would be nothing to appeal against.

However, Johnson, he who can’t spot a legal charlatan when he sees one, who is blinded by thoughts of earning easy money, who seems to lack the wit to read and understand the Regulations, who has difficulty in researching the readily-available transcripts of relevant High Court cases and who when given a choice between doing good or doing harm, chose the latter in a feeble attempt to save his own skin, is a man who can’t even follow the guidance issued by the NAMF.

Here is the NAMF politburo directive in black and white:

namf directive

… the only evidence he may consider upon review is that which post-dates the earlier review.

Seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?  This comes from the NAMF’s verbosely titled ‘Procedural guidance on Assessing and reassessing the degree of disablement as a result of an injury received in the execution of duty’ [sic] dated 01/03/2013. It seems that even in a pile of manure there may be found a single pip of legal accuracy.

We all know that NAMF has zero legal jurisdiction on matters covered by a statutory instrument passed by Parliament, a.k.a. The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006; but NAMF guidance is what some forces cling to for legitimacy.

It’s a crying shame then that this willing recipient of NAMF codswallop can’t even follow its directives.

Our premise is that Johnson was conned. Not just by A&S when they hired him and failed to mention the intention was to have him conduct unlawful reviews so that injury pensions could be reduced – to act as the front man, the fall guy, should anything go wrong. The first fifteen reviews were, it is now admitted by A&S, to be a ‘trial’ of the process (we haven’t miscounted, we know the saga of all the 16). You don’t need to trial the law – you need to apply it correctly. What was being trialled was a way to abuse and subvert the law.

Johnson was further conned by the training event held at the College of Policing. There he listened attentively to what will in due course go down in injury pension history as the biggest load of bovine excrement ever produced.

To a neutral observer it’s clear that he lacked the moral fibre to do the right thing and tell those who hired him that he would follow only the Regulations, not so-called guidance from any source. When he saw the harm the review process was causing to vulnerable, damaged, disabled people he suppressed his Hippocratic principles and chose not to do what he could to repair the harm. Instead of accepting responsibility for his failing to make decisions for over a year, he chose to seek to blame the pensioners.  Instead of acting honourably and resigning his position, he chose to cling on by his fingertips, hoping that by so doing he would not be exposed to the inevitable litigation that would result from such widespread and determined maladministration. Rather than blow the whistle on the damning evidence of unlawful intent in the conversations he has been privy too at A&S he chose to keep silent.

Dr Johnson has made his choices. He must eventually face the consequences. He may not have long to wait.  That said, it might be wise to find a tin hat to wear if you are also part of the ‘J-K-W-B’  posse of four employee ‘enablers’ who merrily have overseen the maladministration.

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...