National Wellbeing and Engagement Forum

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Polemic on the Poll Results

Polemic on the Poll Results

“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.”
― Mark TwainWhat Is Man?

We asked the question in a previous post whether a person who is disabled in relation to earning capacity and then succumbs to a persistence vegetative state should have his life further questioned by a police pension authority?

The question was asked without real context.  We deliberately didn’t explain what the Regulations allow and we purposely left some cross-over with the possible answers; we wanted people to answer with what they instinctively thought was right.

This human touch is sorely lacking in those who administer injury awards. All too often HR managers and SMPs entirely neglect to consider the effects of their actions on others. A few of them seem to be be completely devoid of any moral compass.

For example, Staffordshire thinks financial constraints are a legitimate reason to review and a questionnaire is the way to vet whether the expense of sending someone in front of a SMP is worth the £2000+ expense payable to the doctor for his arguably pre-determined work to reduce the person’s award.

The procedures laid down in the Regulations have to be applied with individual assessment in each case at each stage. This is being ignored in certain forces, and we need look no further for examples than at Knowles & Wirz of Northumbria and Andrew Colly & DCC Baker & Staffordshire.

Any action has to be justified; and it is not sufficient to ask oneself whether the underlying procedure is legal. In respect of the review of degree of disablement there is a ‘shall’ in the Regulations which ignorant or ill-intentioned managers interpret as giving them carte blanche to review whoever they wish, whenever they wish, as often as they wish. Their lack of moral compass allows them to forget that the so-called ‘duty to review’ is strictly limited and contains a wide power of discretion.

In our earlier blog we gave the example of a poor man placed in a coma. Interestingly, 89% of respondents to our survey think it best to leave the man alone.  Only 8% think that it is appropriate to review and reduce the man’s injury award.  No person voted to remove the injury award.

We think it is the sadly indoctrinated view of the majority involved with, and in receipt of, an injury award that reviews only exist to reduce people.  As a charity one of our aims is to dispel this myth. We don’t think it right that those with an injury award have to live their lives in the shadows, frightened of attracting the gaze of the PPA and always prepared for the manilla envelope to drop in their doormat announcing a review.

Such statistics as do exist – and it needs to be noted that they had to be obtained by lengthy Freedom Of Information requests from forces – show that over the last five years, when reviews have been held, then 83% result in a decision of no alteration in degree of disablement. Some 6.2% produced an increase in pension payment, whilst 10.29% saw the pensioners concerned reduced in banding.

The fear of reviews has much to do with the intrusiveness and uncertainty of the process itself, together with a well deserved and natural suspicion that in some forces the entire process is unlawfully constructed and is indeed intended to manipulate a reduction in payment.

We in IODPA think there are too many reviews, and too many of them are pointless and should never have been held. We are not against lawful reviews, but we are firmly against mass reviews and would want to see scheme managers realise they must exercise discretion in deciding whether a review is appropriate.

Turning again to our survey, why didn’t anyone vote for the award to be taken away in its entirety? Was it considered to be morally wrong or did all the participants have in mind that there are very particular and extremely rare circumstances where an injury pension can be ceased?  Regulation 43 tells us that ‘. . . a pension or allowance shall be payable for life’ yet we know that some forces have threatened pensioners with suspension or even cessation of their injury pension.

In some instances these threats have been carried through – at least only for so long as it takes our legal representatives to explain to the PPA concerned the error of their ways.

We have witnessed SMPs who concocted entirely unlawful rationale that an individual should never have been granted an injury award in the first place. We have seen HR managers issue wholesale threats to pensioners that there injury pension could be reduced or suspended if they fail to complete a questionnaire. We have gasped in disbelief when a PPA has issued similar threats to pensioners who had the temerity to refuse to allow unrestricted access to their sensitive medical records.

It is no small wonder then that IOD pensioners generally worry so much about the security of their injury pension income.

Of late, there has been a new addition to the inventive fancies of HR managers who would like to have the power to reduce or cease injury pensions in circumstances which are not allowed by the Regulations. Where in the Regulations does it say someone with a duty injury can have their pension reduced to the minimum when another injury overtakes the disablement?  The person is still unable to earn. We’ve made this point before; does the person become 200% disabled?

To find why we are even asking this question you need to look to NWEF’s and Northumbria’s legal advisor, Nicholas Wirz.  In his training guidance to SMPs he tells them this:

e.g. if an individual were to have developed advanced Parkinson’s disease since the last review, such that he was unable to work by reason of the symptoms of that disease alone, then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil

The “disease alone” could be replaced by anything according to Wirz: a persistent vegetative state, cancer, even aggravated natural degeneration.  Where does this stop?  For Wirz, he’d rather force an ill 70 year into spending his twilight years appealing the reprehensible Wirz-influenced medical decision to make him or her a band one.

We will talk about case law in a minute.  But ask yourself why the administration of police injury awards is so riddled with high court judgements.  It is because the PPAs, Wirz and NWEF keep trying to disadvantage retired police officers and serving officers who are in need, hardship or distress who are disabled as a consequence of being injured on duty.

By discussing whether an award should be reduced or removed because someone has become severely unwell on another matter is asking the wrong question.  A question that need not be asked and is only asked because Wirz is influencing the SMPs to enact it.  The truth of it is the person being targeted has been injured and had their career taken away – the righteous man or woman acting as a PPA would let them live their life without further hardship.

But there is case law on this matter.  There are three judicial reviews which we need to look at to see how the Regulations have been interpreted by the courts on this matter.  The trouble is they aren’t clear.

The 2003 case of South Wales v Anton (Crocker) is the first.  This case concerned an original decision for an award that SWP didn’t like.

Paragraphs 53, 54 and 55 are the pertinent ones.Mr Justice Ouseley says:

So the question to be answered under the Regulations is what degree of the loss of earning capacity is the result of the duty injury? This seemingly simple question can give rise to acute problems of causation, even though the question of whether or not there has been a disability which the duty injury has caused, or substantially contributed to, has already been answered. A separate issue of causation arises at the apportionment stage, because the entitlement stage can be passed on the basis of an injury which substantially contributes to, but is not the whole cause of, disablement

The judge is saying that another injury may have some effect on the person’s capacity to earn.  We all agree on this.  An injury award should not compensate for injuries not received on-duty. If there is a mix of on duty injury and other injury, then the amount of disablement caused by the on duty needs to be determined.

However, it becomes more complex where an on duty injury exacerbates or aggravates a pre-existing condition. This is commonly referred to as the straw which broke the camel’s back. An officer may be fit for duty despite the pre-existing condition, and it is only when injured on duty that they become disabled.

Mr Justice Ouseley touches on the duty injury aggravating an non-duty injury:

The position is more complex where the total loss is attributable to the effect of a duty injury on an underlying condition, which may or may not be an injury within the definition in the Regulations, and which by itself may or may not have contributed to a separate loss of earning capacity. An officer might suffer from a condition which would not affect him or his earning capacity until aggravated by a duty injury.

So for example a person with a dodgy cervical spine injury, that is mainly asymptomatic and intermittent and does not affect his capacity to earn and is still a fully operational police officer, receives a duty injury that aggravates it.

In this example Mr Justice Ouseley says apportionment for the aggravation and acceleration is not appropriate

  1. I do not consider that the question of apportionment should be answered by trying to attribute a share of the loss of earning capacity to any underlying condition which, on its own, had not, or did not, cause a loss of earning capacity. The loss should be attributed wholly to the duty injury which, albeit because of that underlying condition, has directly caused the loss of earning capacity.

Let us return to the poor individual in the persistent vegetative state.  We are only  talking about this because Wirz has taken the above judgement and twisted it to mean that if a person becomes further disabled through the trials and tribulations which life throws at a person then then the unfortunate soul should not be compensated for the injuries received on duty – even though the injury on duty still exists

The Ouseley judgement does not speak of this.  Wirz has picked up the baton and lobbed it into a field of nettles.  It is an invented concept of Wirz that he feels he wants to test upon disabled and vulnerable former officers.

The Walther judicial reviews (there were two of them) also touch on the matter of apportionment and acceleration.

In Walther v The Police Medical Appeal Board & Anor [2010]  Mr Justice Irwin declared that:

  1. A short acceleration of the onset of a permanent disability is unlikely to be held to be a “substantial” contribution to that disability. Acceleration to any degree is some contribution, but not likely to be regarded as substantial. The opposite applies, it seems to me. A significant acceleration – taking the extreme case, an acceleration of a decade or more – clearly would be a significant contribution to a permanent disability. Where the dividing line comes must be a matter of fact in each case. In my judgment such an approach is consistent with the language of the Regulation and with common sense.

Just because a non duty injury or condition has been accelerated, without it being substantial, it matters not and in any case common sense reigns.  The trouble we have is that Wirz has no common sense and the moralistic determinations of some SMPs are zero.  With a predetermined desire to reduce, they will go to whatever lengths to justify apportionment.  Understanding the whole picture by demanding (with threats of suspension of an award) full medical records from birth  is their favoured way of introducing apportionment.  In effect this is a alwyer’s trick to carry out the unlawful act of revisiting causation.

The second Walther judicial review Met v The Police Medical Appeal Board [2013] was instigated by the Met in 2013 who attempted to remove the award granted to David Walther by the PMAB tasked to revisit the question after the 2010 judgement won by Mr Walther.

The judge this time, Mr Justice Collins, said this:

Only if there will be no loss of earning capacity resulting from the injury when the officer is medically retired will it be likely to be the case that there was no substantial contribution.

In the end Justice Collin’s agreed with the PMAB and David Walther kept his injury award.

But, rather contradictory, instead of the decade stated in the first case by Mr Justice Irwin, even if a duty injury had caused only an acceleration of symptoms of 18 months to 2 years, if at the time the question was being considered by the SMP, the disablement was the result of the injury, then the officer would be entitled to an award.

But the interesting point is what Justice Collins said about Regulation 37. The basis for Collins J’s view was that he considered regulation 37, which provides for reassessment of injury pensions where there has been substantial alteration in the degree of disablement, enabled there to be a later assessment as to whether an underlying condition had overtaken any disablement resulting from the injury.

Specifically he is referring to David Walther’s problem of degenerative disc changes of the L4/5 and L5/S1 discs and prominent disc bulges at T12/4, L4/5 and L5/S1.  All these were explicitly listed when Mr Walther was retired.  It does not follow then that injuries not listed, or not known about, when the medical retirement was given can be reintroduced by a later review.  This would be contrary to the Laws and Pollard cases.

Of course, the existence of Regulation 37 helps everyone when the duty to review is used correctly. It is a provision which can be sparingly used, with plentiful discretion, to help ensure the correct level of injury pension is paid. It forbids all need for speculation about what might occur in the future. An injury pension is granted at a rate commensurate with what has occurred in the past and what disablement the individual exhibits in the here and now.

It says nothing whatever about the extra-regulatory wage comparison exercises practices by some PPAs which remain the aspect of reviews which create the most persistent and most aggressive forms of abuse of the Regulations.

Another area of particular difficulty arising from the second Walther decision may be the Judge’s interpretation of regulation 37, central to his reasoning overall, that it permits a reduction for David Walther’s injury award once a period of simple acceleration has passed. Collins J did not refer in his judgement to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and the PMAB.  We will never know how a review would affect Mr Walther as the Met do not review unless a person asks to be reviewed.

And here lies the problem.  The two Walther cases do conflict somewhat even though David Walther won both. Nicholas Wirz, without regard to what is right or just or reasonable, is trying to populate the void that now exists by using the contradiction to reduce injury awards.

Even though both Walther cases involved the original decision and applied to someone with co-existing duty and non-duty injuries at the time of the award, Wirz seemingly wants SMPs to apportion everyone and to use Regulation 37 to do it.

IODPA is certain that a further judicial review will clarify the issue for once and for all but we again return to the example of the man in our question of PTSD and a coma after a car accident.

The question on the legality walks in parallel with what is morally right – the spirit of the law is phrase often quoted.  IODPA is a much-needed counter to people like Wirz and part of its role is to shout out quite clearly that legal questions with a moral content are usually easy to answer if the person invoking the questions does so with a just mind.

The law itself is no more than a codified expression of moral standards. It arises and lives as a demonstration of the combined moral core of the people. The law should not be a plaything for the likes of Wirz, Colley and Baker. IODPA has the will and the means to see that they, and others who try to bend the scope and intention of the Regulations into unrecognisable shapes will always be challenged, and will always be made to mend their ways.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Toxicity travels: NAMF rebrands as NWEF

Toxicity travels:  NAMF rebrands as NWEF

It takes a lot more than a change of name to restore the reputation of a damaged brand…

Suppose you are eager to move forward with your determined but illegal mission to undermine secondary legislation but your plans have been hit by a series of serious high court losses.

Not only illegality, but also  a spectacular juxtaposition of incompetence and malevolence on your part, mixed with gross lack of judgement. Plus hubris. And arrogance. And sheer bloody-mindedness.

What are your options here?  Do you:

a) Learn from your errors and seek to quietly, but determinedly, rebuild your group’s reputation?
b) Put your group’s  ambitions on hold and invest in some capability-development training?
c) Simply change the name of your clandestine organisation?

But … a successful rebranding involves overhauling the goals, message, and culture – not just changing a name.

Unfortunately, it seems like Lesley Ann Knowles, the chair of NAMF  NWEF didn’t get the memo.

The Chair announced she had chosen the new title for the group from suggestions previously discussed and provided to her. The new name of the group being National Wellbeing and Engagement Forum (NWEF). A discussion was held around whether using the word engagement in the title of the forum may cause confusion. However it was agreed by the group that without engagement wellbeing may not be achieved, since effective engagement being important to receive and act upon the voice of the workforce.

Wellbeing‘ & ‘Engagement‘… Blurgh!!

Should be ill-being & alienate. NAMF has chosen to rebrand themselves with a new acronym, the words of which mean the opposite to their true objective.  Words they’ve pulled straight out of the psychobabble and buzzwords prevalent in HR jargon.

Read their December 2016 minutes here:  [toggle pages with bottom left arrows]

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