Nicholas Wirz

The Wirz virus

Virus found

Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won’t know it, and may even vigorously deny it.

— Richard Dawkins: English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author.


Doctors are expected to do what they can to prevent the spread of viruses, and to cure those who are made ill by them.

How contrary then is it that a handful of doctors seem content to be infected by a species of virus which has taken hold in their own minds? A virus, the very specific effects of which are to confuse the host with delusions of power and a warped interpretation of the set of Regulations which govern the police injury award scheme.

We speak of those doctors, who act in the role of ‘selected medical practitioner’ (SMP) for the several Police Pension Authorities (PPAs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. SMPs have a role in the administration of the police injury benefit scheme. They are responsible for making certain regulatory medical decisions. The most notable being determining an officer’s or former officer’s degree of disablement resulting from injury on duty.

A certain solicitor, after whom the virus is named, who is employed by a certain Northern police force is suspected, with good reason, as being responsible for the creation of the virus and for its release.

The virus is known as the Wirz virus and has been in circulation for some time now – and we in IODPA think it is long overdue that all PPAs, all the Human Resources departments of police forces, and all doctors who act as SMPs or as panel members of police medical appeal boards should be made aware of the virus and the threats it contains to their reputations and careers.

Disabled former officers, and injured serving officers also need to be made aware of the Wirz virus and of those doctors and others who have been infected by it. And that is where IODPA can help.

IODPA exists to provide advice, support and defence of their pension rights. We regularly hear of mistakes made by those involved in the management of the police injury benefit scheme. Mistakes arise from a variety of causes. Some are due to lack of training, some from lack of knowledge, some from carelessness, some from prejudice, some from laziness, some from a lack of moral courage, some from a desire not to be seen as a poor team player and a few from deliberate intent.

All of these can usually be dealt with, and corrected, one way or another, but the Wirz virus inserts something much more damaging than simple mistakes into the system. The Wirz virus spreads misinformation and does so in a way which leads those infected to absolutely believe the misinformation. Those infected inevitably produce work and decisions which are always legally flawed. Their entire output is contaminated.

That causes great harm to disabled former officers, injured serving officers, and their families. It also harms the hosts – the carriers of the virus – and the reputation of the medical profession itself.

Our sympathies are centred on the victims of maladministration but we do reserve a small concern for any honest, decent, ethical doctor or HR staff who might have unwittingly been infected by the Wirz virus. We have, however, no sympathy whatever for anyone who deliberately or negligently denies disabled former officers or injured serving officers their pension rights.

Whilst feeling a little bit sorry for some SMPs, we recognise also that the role of SMP is reportedly widely recognised within the medical profession as something to be avoided at all costs. The main factor informing that perception appears to be an awareness of the strong likelihood of becoming embroiled in litigation and complaints due to being required to act in ways unknowingly contrary to the Regulations. The Wirz virus causes SMPs and others to believe all complaints, all challenges to maladministration are vexatious and, above all, should not be made as SMPs have immunity from professional regulatory investigation or proceedings

Let’s divert briefly to highlight the origin of this situation.

By a peculiar initiative of the Home Office, it became a requirement that SMPs should preferably hold a qualification in occupational medicine.

In 2002 it was agreed by the then Police Negotiating Board that it should produce, with the Home Office, joint guidance for police authorities and force senior managers on the key areas of managing ill-health retirement.

In due course a joint circular was issued which contained this:

Qualifications of FMA and SMP

  1. It is difficult to be prescriptive about the minimum qualification an FMA should have since there are many existing FMAs with considerable experience but relatively few occupational health qualifications. New FMAs should be recruited with the minimum requirement that he or she be an Associate of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (AFOM) or EEA equivalent and be given the opportunity quickly to build up a good knowledge of the police service and the range of duties that need to be performed.

  2. Ideally, the SMP should be a Member or Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (MFOM or FFOM), or EEA equivalent. The minimum requirement should be that he or she is an Associate of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (AFOM) or EEA equivalent. Before appointment as SMP the police authority must provide the medical practitioner concerned with an induction programme and other training so that he or she has an understanding of what police service entails.

The logic of this advice is suspect as it seems to suggest that only a doctor with such a qualification has the skill and experience to perform the role. If the role of SMP included a brief to help injured officers back to health so they could continue to serve, then an occupational health qualification might be useful. But SMPs are not required to do that. They have no part to play (and rightly should have no part to play) in treatment of an officer or former officer.  A SMP is there merely to decide certain regulatory questions which are part of either the ill health retirement process or part of the injury benefit scheme. It seems to IODPA that an occupational health qualification is pointless and by only selecting doctors with that qualification to act in the role of SMPs helps create conditions for maladministration.

Any illusory advantages an occupational health qualification might bring are heavily outweighed by  one major disadvantage. At a stroke the agreement reduced the pool of potential doctors who might wish to act in the role of SMP down to a fraction. In 2018, almost 290,000 doctors were registered in the United Kingdom. Few hold, or want to hold, qualifications in occupational health.

The net result is that SMPs nearly all come from a very restricted pool of medical professionals who by no stretch of the imagination can be said to be sufficiently ‘appropriately qualified’ as required by the Regulations. More experienced, better qualified doctors are excluded.

Back to the Wirz virus.

Mr Wirz. With the cooperation of that esteemed body of rational thought and learning, the Police College (wholly funded by the Home Office), decided to give SMPs the benefit of his inestimable insight into the detail of the police injury benefit scheme. A training programme was devised. It was given the grand title of Police Pensions (SMP) Development Event and was held at the college on 31st January 2014.

We have visited the content of Mr Wirz’s presentation before, and continue to hold our low opinion as to the quality, relevance and accuracy of the content. For now though we need look at only one section to make the point that this training was responsible for sowing confusions and misdirecting SMPs.

Mr Wirz, addressing the issue of complaints made to the General Medical Council by officers and former officers against SMPs stated,

The GMC believes it has jurisdiction over medical practitioners performing a function under the Regulations.

He continued:

It is by no means clear that the GMC does, in fact, have jurisdiction over an SMP when acting as such. The SMP takes their authority from the statute as interpreted by the courts. Does the GMC have any locus in these circumstances? In other scenarios where medical practitioners perform a judicial function, taking their authority from the relevant enabling legislation/common law, the GMC has no jurisdiction. An example would be the role of Coroner.


IODPA is aware the GMC has consistently been very clear that SMPs need to act according to GMC guidelines, and that breaching those guidelines carries a risk of complaint and consequent investigation by the GMC.

We present here the recently-expressed view of Mr Percival who is the Principal Legal Advisor and Deputy General Counsel to the General Medical Council, and Judge, First Tier Tribunal Health, Education and Social Care Chamber at HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

Even in the case of judges who sit in courts or tribunals, there is not complete immunity from regulatory proceedings. This is demonstrated by the existence of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, with powers to investigate misconduct relating to a judge’s personal behaviour whether in court or outside of court, though not of course a judge’s decisions or judgments made in the course of court proceedings which can only be challenged via the appropriate appellate proceedings.

So far as registered medical practitioners are concerned, the Court of Appeal in its judgment in the case of Meadow v General Medical Council [2006] EWCA Civ 1390 declined to extend the immunity from suit (from claims in the civil courts) in the case of expert witnesses to also cover immunity from regulatory proceedings. The reasons given were clearly stated by the Court of Appeal, namely that “although the need for fearlessness and the avoidance of a multiplicity of actions has been held to outweigh the private interest in civil redress, hence the immunity from civil suit, those public policy benefits do not and cannot (or at least should not) override the public interest in the protection of the public’s health and safety enshrined in the GMC’s statutory duty to bring FTP proceedings where a registered medical practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired.”

For this reason, the equivalent immunity from professional regulatory investigation or proceedings which appears to be being suggested to apply to SMPs, has been held by the Court of Appeal to be contrary to the public interest in the case of expert witnesses – whose role and function in a wide array of legal proceedings of substantial public importance can, as acknowledged by the Court of Appeal in Meadow, present risks of complaints being raised which are very much the same as those potentially arising in relation to SMPs.

As you will be aware, the overarching objective of the GMC is the protection of the public. This involves:

  1. protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of the public,
  2. promoting and maintaining public confidence in the medical profession, and
  3. promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of that profession.

We are not aware that the particular role of SMPs raises any substantially different arguments for immunity from regulatory proceedings from a public interest perspective than does the role of the expert witness in court proceedings. For these reasons, the GMC does not currently consider that there is any more justification, or legal basis, for exempting SMPs from its regulatory jurisdiction than there would be for exempting expert witnesses from the same in respect of their role in giving expert evidence in a wide range of judicial proceedings.


From all the evidence, from all of the accounts we hear from our members, it is beyond argument that some police pension authorities allow, perhaps even encourage, their SMPs to conduct medical examinations and interviews in ways which cause real and lasting damage to health. At the very least, PPAs remain unaware of what is being done in their name, not just by SMPs, but by HR staff also. This has to stop. Police pension authorities need to find a better, less intrusive, kinder way of discharging their responsibilities under the Regulations.

On that note, we will have to draw to a conclusion, for reasons of space, but we will return in a future article to further examine the role of the SMP.

Annex C – The Legacy

Annex C – The Legacy

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

— William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


A while ago, back in 2004, a civil servant, name of John Alexander Gilbert, who was employed within the Home Office as Head of the Police Pensions & Retirement Policy Section put his signature to a document which caused a great deal of trouble, pain and cost.

Trouble and pain to disabled former officers, and cost to police forces – all of which continues to this day.

The document was Home Office circular 46/2004. It offered guidance to Chief Officers of Police.  Its full title was The Police Pension Scheme – Police Medical Appeal Boards/Role of Selected Medical Practitioner/British Transport Police Transfers.

There were three Annexes to the document. Annex C was the poisoned chalice from which Chief Constables were invited to drink.




Annex C was a most remarkable document. It contained direct lies and unlawful distorted advice which sorely misdirected some Chief Constables and the doctors tasked with assessing the medical condition of injured former officers. It seems to have been the signal flag announcing the beginning of a dirty campaign intended to reduce or deny injured officers and former officers the pension rights conferred on them by Parliament.

Annex C caused an outcry, with voices raised from several directions, all questioning the lawfulness of the guidance. It took until 2012 for the Home Office to be compelled, at the doors of a court of law, into agreeing to withdraw the guidance.

Disabled former officers suffered for eight long years wherever Chief Officers followed the flawed guidance. Some had their injury pensions drastically reduced and all were thrown into a limbo of financial uncertainty and stress.

However, the suffering did not cease with the document’s withdrawal. Since 2004 injury on duty pensioners have witnessed and have been subjected to a most inventive, sustained and systematic course of aggressive activities devised by HR managers and Chief Constables, all intended to erode and deny pension rights. We don’t propose to analyse here why maladministration blossomed in the wake of Annex C, other than to say it seems to arise from a toxic mix of lack of knowledge and training combined with attitudes contrary to the welfare of disabled former officers.

Annex C has left a disturbing legacy and that is why it may be timely to look again at what was learned about the guidance in the hope that decent and more enlightened HR managers and Chief Constables may better understand the harm which results from maladministration. IODPA remains hopeful that the continuing lessons handed out to wayward forces by the courts will serve to curtail those who deliberately set out to cause harm and will encourage those who wish to manage police injury pensions lawfully and humanely.

We can start our brief lesson on Annex C where Annex C itself starts. It stated:

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.


That very first paragraph contained two direct lies.

Extensive research showed that no force had ever, ‘automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding’ at any age or stage of retirement. In truth, no force had ever used an individual’s age or any stage of their retirement to reduce their pensions, whether automatically or otherwise.

The Home Office was invited to provide the names of the forces which it claimed had automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding at what would have been compulsory retirement age. It was unable to produce any names. It could not, as all forces had revealed – to a former officer who conducted the research mentioned above – that none of them had ever taken such actions.

The ‘recent survey’ referred to was in truth a complete invention. There was no survey. The Home Office was asked to produce any evidence of the survey. It at first claimed that delegates to the National Attendance Management Forum (NAMF) had given their views in a single ‘round the table’ discussion on the topic – which is hardly an example of a survey on which life-changing advice ought to be based. When the agenda and minutes of the meetings of the NAMF were obtained there was nothing even hinting at any such discussion.

Moreover, the NAMF is not attended by representatives from all forces. Nor are any representatives of NARPO present. Police injury on duty pensioners views are entirely unrepresented. The NAMF was a talking ship for HR managers, and other employees of forces, and a platform for a certain Mr Nicholas Wirz to peddle his own warped view of the law. Notably, representatives of the Home Office were usually always present.

The Home Office then changed its story and claimed that the ‘survey’ was the result of several discussions and several NAMF meetings. Again, the agenda and minutes are absent of any reference to any such discussion.

The Home Office claimed in Annex C that there had been ‘consultation’ (with whom, it neglected to mention). Certainly there was no consultation with NARPO, as Deputy CEO Clint Elliot made very clear. (See below – in the full analysis of Annex C)

Annex C went on to disregard the Regulations with a virtuoso display of unsupported assumption. It said:

Once a former officer receiving an injury pension reaches the age of 65 they will have reached their State Pension Age irrespective of whether they are male or female. The force then has the discretion, in the absence of a cogent reason otherwise, to advise the SMP to place the former officer in the lowest band of Degree of Disablement.  At such a point the former officer would normally no longer be expected to be earning a salary in the employment market.


The Regulations are not to be administered on assumptions, but on provable facts. One can only wonder at the workings of the mind which could so assuredly make a statement so ridiculous as to be incredible, yet expect Chief Officers to swallow it hook line and sinker. According to the Home Office, at the stroke of midnight on the day before their 65th birthday, all disabled former officers are suddenly and completely divested of all capacity to work and thus earn.

There is a very full and thorough dissection and analysis of Annex C which reveals in detail the extent of the deceit and misdirection it contains.


Annex C Research


The reaction to Annex C spoke volumes about the negative and obstructionist attitudes of some Chief Officers and their staff. It had become very clear, very quickly, that the guidance was badly flawed. Chief Officers received objections from various quarters, including injury on duty pensioners and NARPO, which raised serious and well presented concern, which was more than sufficient to allow the Home Office to at least suspend its Annex C guidance whilst the issues were thrashed out.

The Home Office chose instead to bury its head in the sand and pushed all responsibility onto the forces. Of the 43 forces in England and Wales, only some 17 implemented some or all of the actions suggested in the guidance.

In March 2010 Mr Gilbert wrote to all forces and advised them to suspend reviews of degree of disablement, pending the outcome of an unidentified court case.

The case Mr. Gilbert referenced but did not name was that of Belinda Laws, a former Metropolitan Police officer who is in receipt of an injury pension. She successfully challenged the decision of the Police Medical Appeal Board, dated 17 March 2009, to reject her appeal against a decision of the Selected Medical Practitioner, that her degree of disablement for the purposes of her police injury pension should be reduced from 85 per cent to 25 per cent. The case was first heard on 12 November 2009 at the High Court of Justice. The decision was upheld at appeal on 13 October 2010.

The Home Office did nothing. It neither issued revised guidance nor withdrew Annex C.

The case of Simpson was held in February 2012.  His Honour Judge Supperstone held that part of the Home Office guidance contained in circular 46/2004 was unlawful, as was similar guidance contained in Part 5 of the Home Office’s longer, more detailed, Guidance on Medical Appeals.

At Paragraph 42 of the decision Mr Justice Supperstone opined:

In my judgement, the appropriate relief to grant in the circumstances of this case is a declaration that the section in the Guidance headed “Review of Injury Pensions Once Officers Reach Age 65” and paragraph 20 of the Guidance on Medical Appeals are inconsistent with the Regulations and unlawful. There is no justification for adopting a different approach to regulation 37(1) in respect of a former officer who reaches the age of 65 than in the case of a review for former officers of a younger age.


The Home Office then finally withdrew Annex C in its entirety.

It advised forces to amend its longer guidance, but left it in circulation. A copy of this guidance can be found here:

In our view, this guidance has always been as flawed as was Annex C. It remains as a festering sore, and we believe it is still used by some SMPs to guide their actions. Space prohibits a full analysis of this guidance, but section 5 of the guidance contains an outstanding example of misdirection. Mr Gilbert writes:

How an injury award is calculated –

4. An injury award consists of a lump-sum gratuity and also a pension where, as is normally the case, the person’s other relevant income needs to be topped up to the level of his or her minimum income guarantee.


In truth, the injury pension is a form of guarantee that, if the individual, for whatever reason, whether through choice or through circumstances, earns no money through working, then the injury pension will provide a minimum level of income.

The way Mr Gilbert presented it, the minimum income guarantee – which is how Schedule 3 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 describes the injury pension – is a mechanism which restricts the total income, from whatever source, which a injury on duty pension is allowed to earn.

No wonder then that we see HR managers and some SMPs fixated on what pensioners earn. The plain fact is, what an individual earns is of no consequence to the Regulations. IODPA advises its members and all other injury on duty pensioners there is no need, nor any legal requirement, to divulge earnings to a SMP, a HR or Occupational Health employee, or indeed anyone else.

We would like to commend the forces who refrained from being bamboozled by the Home Office for their display of common sense – but we fear their lack of participation in the madness may have been due to inertia and indifference more than to insight and knowledge.

We should remind all concerned that Home Office guidance is not law. It does not have to be followed. Given the history of Annex C and the content of the longer guidance from the same author, anyone who follows Home Office guidance on the administration of pensions is at risk of sailing directly into serious difficulties. It took a lot of work, and courage, and a big stick waved by the courts, to have Annex C withdrawn. Annex C did nothing to bring about fairness, nor did it herald a more cohesive approach to the administration of injury pensions. It made matters much, much worse.

Annex C has gone. Its evil content is its legacy, which lingers on.

SMPs Have No GMC Immunity

SMPs Have No GMC Immunity

…the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.”
[Defend the right to be offended (openDemocracy, 7 February 2005)]”
― Salman Rushdie

Pop quiz:  Have you heard of  General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390.  It was a judgement handed down by the Court of Appeal on 26 October 2006.

No?  Doesn’t ring a bell?  You are not alone. We’ve read the majority of literature published on selected medical practitioners (SMPs) and the relationship they have with the Police Injury Benefit Regulations but had never come across this case law either.

General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390 (26 October 2006)

You are here: BAILII Databases England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390 (26 October 2006) URL: Cite as: [2006] EWCA Civ 1390, [2007] ICR 701, [2007] QB 462, [2007] 2 WLR 286, [2007] LS Law Medical 1, [2007] 1 FLR 1398, [2006] 3 FCR 447, [2007] 1 All ER 1, 92 BMLR 51, (2006) 92 BMLR 51, [2007] Fam Law 214, [2007] 1 QB 462, [2006] 44 EG 196

We have read, however, that Nicholas Wirz, solicitor for Northumbria police, thinks the GMC code of ethics and GMC guidelines are irrelevant to the function of a SMP.  He essentially has been advising that SMPS can behave badly towards IOD pensioners with no consequences from the GMC.

Remember, Wirz is the chap who is busy advising Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire how Regulation 33 can be stretched as thin as a cheapest, gossamer see-through pair of budget nylon tights. The visible result of this self-appointed quasi-guru’s meddling is that disabled former officers are seeing their injury pensions unlawfully reduced from band four to band one. The not so visible result is traumatised, bullied, frightened disabled former officers, many of whom are vulnerable due to mental health problems, and who feel they have no way of challenging the appalling behaviour of some SMPs.

Wirz says in his training material to SMPs

The GMC believes it has jurisdiction over medical practitioners performing a statutory function under the Regulations. Officers/Pensioners commonly make complaints to the GMC against both SMPs and those other medical practitioners the SMP instructs to assist with and inform the SMP process.Para 5.1 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION

And then he continues to assert that this belief is mistaken:

The SMP takes their authority from the statute as interpreted by the courts. Does the GMC have any locus in these circumstances? In other scenarios where medical practitioners perform a judicial function, taking their authority from the relevant enabling legislation/common law, the GMC has no jurisdiction. An example would be the role of CoronerPara 5.2 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION

So where does this proclamation by Wirz that the GMC has no jurisdiction leave us? In the training material referred to above, Wirz makes no reference at all to General Medical Council v Meadow. Why? We can not believe he is unaware of the case, nor fully cognisant of its implications for SMPs. Asking as we are, in this rhetorical way, it seems the judgement has some of the characteristics that Wirz would like to ignore. So he has done just that – he does not mention it. Wirz’s modus operandi is to present only material which appears to support his peculiar, warped, biased and objective-driven view of the Regulations.

This case concerned Professor Sir Roy Meadow, the infamous paediatrician, and his evidence in the case of Sally Clark, who became the victim of a miscarriage of justice when she was found guilty of the murder of her two elder sons.

The Fitness to Practise Panel (FTPP) of the GMC found serious professional misconduct to be proved, and ordered Professor Meadow’s name to be erased from the register. Professor Meadow appealed both against the finding of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure.

The GMC had sought to protect the public by removing Meadow’s registration. This action was in response to his serious professional misconduct, or impaired fitness to practice, which was evidenced by testimony given by him in a criminal court. The doctor’s appeal was based on a claim that the evidence given by him in court was privileged. Immunity is a common law concept. It is given to witnesses to encourage them to give evidence, and to avoid multiplicity of actions.

Meadow won the appeal on the argument that the purpose of the GMC’s FTP (fitness to practice) proceedings is not there to punish the practitioner for past misdoings but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those doctors who have shown they are not fit to practise.

In other words the FTPP should look forward not back, and the FTPP got this wrong, so the GMC appeal failed.

The important part of the ruling is that the court did however rule that the GMC did indeed have the jurisdiction it claimed. There is no blanket immunity permissible for doctors to never be referred to the GMC for misconduct or impairment to practice. It depends on the type of misconduct or impairment.

Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke covered the GMC’s statutory function, powers and duties of the GMC as governed by the Medical Act 1983;

  1. It is I think inconceivable that the draftsman of any of these provisions could have thought that a person against whom there was a case to answer that he was guilty of serious professional misconduct or, now, that his fitness to practise was impaired, would or might be entitled to an immunity of the kind suggested here. Such immunity would, to my mind, be inconsistent or potentially inconsistent with the principle that only those who are fit to practise should be permitted to do so.

So on the matter of granting an immunity which had not, up to 2006 been explicitly recognised, the judge considered that the immunity did not need to be absolute.

There was no reason why the judge before whom an expert gave evidence (or the Court of Appeal where appropriate) should not refer his conduct to the relevant disciplinary body if satisfied that his conduct had fallen so far below what was expected of him as to merit disciplinary action.

Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke said in his judgement,

However, I should say at once that in this regard I accept the submission made by Mr Henderson on behalf of the GMC. It is that, although the need for fearlessness and the avoidance of a multiplicity of actions has been held to outweigh the private interest in civil redress, hence the immunity from civil suit, those public policy benefits do not and cannot (or at least should not) override the public interest in the protection of the public’s health and safety enshrined in the GMC’s statutory duty to bring FTP proceedings where a registered medical practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired. A similar point can be made in the case of other professions and occupations, with more or less force depending upon the particular circumstances.

Meadow seemingly won the appeal on a technicality of the failings of the FTPP  – not because the GMC’s FTPP did not have jurisdiction.

All the doctors brainwashed by Nicholas Wirz via his ramblings presented at meetings of the NWEF and at the College of Policing should realise that the equivalent immunity from professional regulatory investigation or proceedings, which Wirz tells those gullible enough to listen to him applies to SMPs, has been held by the Court of Appeal to be contrary to the public interest in the case of expert witnesses.

Nowadays, the GMC has the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).  Whether or not the GMC case examiners or the investigation committee are satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of establishing that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, and so refers complaints to the MPTS,  is down to the facts of the matter being alleged.  Perhaps the conduct does or doesn’t touch on fitness to practice issues.  Maybe the matter concerns a breach of GMC guidance such as failing to treat the former officer as a patient or to ignore the requirements to disclose medical reports BEFORE disclosure to the force.  Guidance such as this  Confidentiality & Disclosure GMC.

But the take-home here is that Wirz is wrong yet again.  How many vulnerable former officers have not pursued complaints because he has told them the SMP is out of bounds?  Perhaps even Wirz knew about the GMC v Meadows judgement and wanted to bamboozle those about the threshold level required for the GMC to act. Who knows.  We know that there is a world of difference between “no jurisdiction” and  the threshold of fitness to practice to ensure patient safety.

In following this Court of Appeal, there is no exception. The GMC does not aim to resolve individual complaints or punish doctors for past mistakes, but rather to take action where needed in order to protect patients or maintain the public’s confidence in the medical profession.

You do know now, though, that any SMP who claims immunity from GMC ethics or guidelines, or claims that you are not his or her patient needs to read the above Court of Appeal judgement.

If you feel a SMP has harmed your health by his behaviour, or by his failure to put your health first, or by making unreasonable demands causing distress, such as insisting you travel a distance to see him or her, provide medical records from birth, or threaten you with reduction on your injury pension if you do not comply – or any other behaviour or omission which adversely impacts on your health, then complain to the GMC.

You are a ‘patient’ in the eyes of the GMC, and you have the right to be protected from doctors who are unfit to practice.

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:


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:


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.






NWEF Conference falls victim to lack of attendees

NWEF Conference falls victim to lack of attendees

National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF)  June 2017 didn’t happen!

A brief trawl of the Foreign Office’s travel advice for HR types thinking of paying a visit to Newcastle City Centre Police Station, Newcastle Upon Tyne Friday 9th June 2017 at 10am probably didn’t warn people that’s it’s not the best idea to attend a NWEF conference hosted by Northumbria police – with the ever present threat of catching a serious infectious disease which, once it has control of a person, causes them to spew forth incoherent babble from the bowels of the voicebox.

National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF) JUNE 2017 – a Freedom of Information request to Northumbria Police

Please provide full disclosure of the following: National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum – NWEF (Formerly NAMF) – Northumbria Police The meeting was held Friday 9th June 2017 at 10am, Newcastle City Centre Police Station, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Of course, we don’t think the the meeting was cancelled due to a contagious lurgy.  All HR minions love to go on an extravagant all-expenses paid junket.  So why didn’t the June 2017 NWEF-fest go ahead?  Apparently no-one wanted to go!

In response to your request above, The National Wellbeing and Engagement
Forum (NWEF) meeting scheduled for June 2017 was cancelled due to the
limited availability of members.Northumbria Police Data Protection and Disclosure Advisor

Perhaps the acolytes of Wirz are becoming disbelievers…




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.

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.

More on Case Law: A Brief History …

More on Case Law: A Brief History …

The rules and principles of case law have never been treated as final truths, but as working hypotheses, continually retested in those great laboratories of the law, the courts of justice. Every new case is an experiment; and if the accepted rule which seems applicable yields a result which is felt to be unjust, the rule is reconsidered. It may not be modified at once, for the attempt to do absolute justice in every single case would make the development and maintenance of general rules impossible; but if a rule continues to work injustice, it will eventually be reformulated ~ THE NATURE OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS BY BENJAMIN N. CARDOZO, LL.D. (1921)

Staffordshire police have employed an Andrew Colley, a HR minion formerly of West Mercia, to perform the role of modern-day witchfinder general of this force’s mass review programme without delegated authority nor even a smidgen of scant knowledge of what he is doing.

The original 17th century witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins, actually claimed to hold the office of Witchfinder General, although that title was never bestowed by Parliament. Andrew Colley, however, deserves the dishonoury title of HR reviews minion-in-chief. Hopkins, after spending his short career of just three years hanging the innocent, met his own demise. The exact way of his end remains a mystery. One account, by William Andrews a 19th Century writer on Essex folklore, argues that Hopkins was accused of being a witch himself. Other sources say he passed away peacefully from consumption.

Only time will tell how history will record what happens to Colley – if anyone can be bothered to record his deeds. Chances are that he will play out an Aesop-like moral tale where victimising the vulnerable, abusing the law and usurping the powers of others, leads to some fitting just deserts.

It is amazing how easily some people employed by police forces fall into the trap of ignorance and fail to read about how the law has evolved over the years in respect of police pension maladministration. As evidence of this, you need only listen to the raving lunacy of NWEF (formerly the national attendance management forum).

When considering maladministration of the police injury benefit regulations it would be hard to find examples of other areas of public sector law which have given rise to so many judicial reviews.

We already publish a live link to the British and Irish Legal Information Institute:

Caselaw Only

All Police Injury Award Case Law – live

Now we have gone a step further and provide our readers with a short summary of each judgement.   We always recommend to read the judgement in full, as a summary rarely does it justice.  You can then play “spot the deliberate mistakes” made by SMPs, police pension authorities, HR administrators and of course those by frequent attender in the High Court, Northumbria police’s solicitor Nicholas Wirz.

We’ve made this point before – it always shocks us when we see the frequency Northumbria finds itself in the High Court. But it is even more shocking to see the widespread ignorance displayed by police injury benefit scheme managers, and to note just how far they are prepared to go to try to justify and defend their maladministration.


Fisher v Northumbria It will not be permissible for Chief Constables to put forward hypothetical comparators, which bear no relation to the individual circumstances by, for example, referring merely to national wage averages. There must be consideration of the available evidence of what the uninjured officer’s earning capacity was in fact likely to be.  The Fisher decision does not obligate an SMP or PMAB to use the officer’s police earnings prior to injury in all cases, it merely stresses that they must form part of the consideration or act as a starting point. If there are good reasons in a particular case for a departure from that level of earnings it is permissible, but it must be objectively justified on the facts of the particular case and on the evidence available. 2017
Sharp v West Yorkshire Mr Sharp was denied an ill health pension despite the evidence that the stresses of work would “cause a recurrence of his depressive disorder”. That decision was quashed by the High Court.  This gives guidance on the nature of work related stress and the entitlement of those with mental illnesses which have intermittent symptoms to an ill health pension. 2016
Sidwell v  Derbyshire This particular case the claimant was suffering from a psychological condition which on the face of it was not permanently disabling.  The definition of permanent disablement and the three distinct elements which need to be proved under Regulation A12. Although the first is a question of fact, the second and third are a mix of both factual and expert evidence. Whilst  expressing some criticism of the PMAB’s specialist member’s ‘demolition’ of the claimant’s expert evidence, the PMAB had acted within its legitimate remit in preferring its specialist member’s opinion, its reliance not being so contrary to the weight of the evidence as to invalidate its conclusion 2015
Scardfield V Hampshire This case was primarily concerned with the availability of treatment that had not been tried when assessing permanent disablement.  The judge found the Board had erred in law in its interpretation of the words “permanently disabled”.  But that that would have come to the same conclusion in denying the award even had they got this right.  The judge stated  that “permanent” in relation to the Regulations does not mean for life; it means until the date of retirement. Scardfield lost the judicial review on as he had barely scratched the surface of the treatments available 2013
Commissioner of Police v PMAB (Walther 2) After Walther 1, Walther was again refused an injury award by a SMP. He appealed to a PMAB which considered that
the concepts of acceleration and aggravation were not helpful and concluded that the injury on duty had substantially contributed to the permanent disablement. The Met challenged the PMAB at judicial view. The Judge agreed with the PMAB that an approach based on aggravation or acceleration and the extent of any acceleration was not appropriate, because the relevant time for assessing causation of disablement was the time the question was referred to the SMP. Thus, 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
Simpson v Northumbria A further judicial review hearing, before His Honour Justice Supperstone at Leeds High Court in February 2012 held that part of Home Office circular 46/2004, concerning “Review of Injury Pensions once Officers reach 65”, and paragraph 20 of section 5 of the Home Office ‘Guidance on Medical Appeals under the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 and the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006’ are inconsistent with the Police (Injury Benefits) Regulations 2006 and therefore unlawful. 2012
Crudace v Northumbria Police Authority In Crudace the officer’s degree of disablement had been reduced to 0% on a regulation 37 review on the sole ground that he had reached state pension age and accordinglyhome guidance asserted his uninjured earning capacity would ordinarily be expected to be nil.  The officer had instituted an appeal, but had abandoned it when told by the force solicitor that his case lacked merit and that he was on risk as to costs. Only much later did he request a reconsideration of the decision under reg.32(2).In Crudace the judge if necessary would have quashed the decision not to agree to a reconsideration on the ground that it had been made by an HR manager and there was no evidence that what was then the Police Authority’s power had been delegated to her. The Police Pensions Regulations 2015 permit, without express limitation, delegation of the functions of the PPA, and it is important to ensure that any decision-maker acts with appropriate statutory authority. 2012
Haworth v Northumbria In Haworth it was said that the SMP, and on appeal the PMAB, had fallen into the error noted above of reconsidering causation on a reg.37 review.  In Crudace and Haworth it was held that where a request for reconsideration is made under regulation 32(2) the PPA is under a public law duty to consider the request in the light of the statutory purposes of the provision. Delay, even inordinate delay, since the original decision was made is not in itself a sufficient reason for refusing to consent to a reconsideration without regard to the underlying merits of the challenge.  Reg.32(2) is “in part a mechanism (and indeed an important mechanism) to correct mistakes either as to fact or as to law which have or may have resulted in an officer being paid less than his full entitlement under the regulations, which cannot otherwise be put right”. In other words a reconsideration under reg.32(2) may take place when the time for an appeal or a judicial review has long passed. 2012
Williams v Merseyside Police Authority Performing his front-line policing role without training, exacerbated by with tutoring a probationer, which had caused his symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and deep depression. Simply to decide that Mr Williams’ illness was not caused by proven lack of training, lack of support, bullying or harassment did not decide the question which the Board had to decide. The PMAB did not consider the totality of the evidence before it. The PMAB went on to conclude that it was not related to proven lack of training, lack of support, bullying or harassment. It did not, however, reach any decision as to what workplace exposures it was related to. Had it done so if may well find that workplace exposures (lack of support, bullying, victimisation) rationally has to be viewed as substantial contributors to the psychiatric illness and therefore can be suffered in the execution of duty. 2011
Commissioner of Police v Laws Reg.37 reviews do not provide a mechanism for the correction of errors in the original decision. The Board should have concentrated on whether there had been any “substantial alteration” in the degree of her disability since that had last been reviewed in 2005.  The Court of Appeal accepted that Ms Laws’ law degree can be taken into account in subsequent reviews of her pension rights, the judge said its impact on her pension was “likely to be modest” as unless it has concrete results in terms of actual job prospects (and the degree is not, of course, a professional qualification) its effect on her earning capacity was largely speculative. 2010
Walther v PMAB & Met (Walther 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,. A significant acceleration – taking the extreme case, an acceleration of a decade or more – clearly would be a significant contribution to a permanent disability. Given this significance it was concluded that it was appropriate to consider aggravation, acceleration and the extent of any acceleration in determining entitlement to an award 2010
Doubtfire & Williams v West Mercia Police Authority & Merseyside This case stops the absurdity of a SMP, on deciding the injury award entitlement, saying the duty injury was not permanently disabling – even when this question was answered to the positive for medical retirement. The test concerns the disablement and not the specifics of the diagnosis 2010
Merseyside v Police Medical Appeal Board & Ors (Hudson & McGinty) Two police officers had been granted injury awards on the basis that they had been injured in the execution of their duty. The chief constable denied this and appealed to judicial review. Merseyside lost. McGinty by taking them his dogs exercise on his annual leave he was carrying out the same function as he would have on an ordinary duty day and for the same purposes. What he was doing was an integral part of his functions as a dog handler. He was acting in the execution of his duty.
Hudson suffered suffered numerous drip, drip of a number of nondisciplinary related events over a period of time which led to the depressive illness. An injury caused by having to work without support an officer is entitled to expect can be regarded as an injury received in the execution of duty. That would also be the more so if there was deliberate victimisation of an officer by superiors.
Laws v PMAB [2009 The pensioner’s degree of disablement had been reduced from 85% to 25% on a review. The SMP had undertaken an entirely new assessment of the range of work which the
pensioner was able to perform, and it had been taken into account that she had recently obtained a law degree. There had been no material change in the extent of her symptoms. scope of the review was to determine whether there had been a substantial alteration in the degree of disablement due to the injury on duty since the preceding review, and not to conduct a wholly fresh assessment
Turner v. PMAB (Met) Reaffirmed Pollard. An appeal against a decision by the SMP on a reg.37 review.
That the PMAB had impermissibly reduced the pensioner’s degree of disablement on the ground that only 50% of his hearing loss had been caused by injuries at work. The PMAB was wrong to re open the 2001 causation decision, when they unlawfully concluded that Mr Turner’s injury on duty accounted for only 50% of his overall disability, and not 100% as decided in 2001
Pollard v Police Medical Appeal Board (West Yorkshire)


Causation can not be revisited in a Regulation 37 review as the medical authority used (SMP or PMAB) cannot change findings of SMP on review once IOD established. The PMAB in purporting to re-open the issue of the causal
link between the duty injury and the disablement the decision-makers had gone outside their powers under regulation 37, which were to re-consider only the degree of
Corkindale v West Yorkshire The judge said he had to decide whether Pc Corkindale was permanently disabled within the meaning of the 1997 Police Pension Regulations and therefore entitled to an “ill-health award” under the pension scheme.
A doctor initially decided against her.When she appealed, the Police Medical Appeal Board ruled she could not be said to be permanently disabled because although she could not carry out ordinary duties with West Yorkshire Police, she was fit for service with another force which did not use CS gas. But Mr Justice Underhill overruled the board’s decision. The judge said CS gas was routinely employed in “the great majority of police forces” and therefore its use “plainly forms part of the ordinary duties of an officer in the police service”.
R (Edwards) v Police Medical Board The injury had not been sustained because of being at work, but because of the impact of the notification of transfer. That was received when he was at a conference which he was required to attend, but he attended as a police officer, not in the execution of duty 2005
Northumbria v Clementson & Doyle Northumbria argued the former officers’ problems did not amount to a permanent disability as doctors had only diagnosed a vulnerability and not a current medical condition. At the High Court, Mr Justice Bennet upheld the challenge and overturned the permanent disability certificates issued to the ex-officers as neither had, at the time, a definitive diagnosis under the required medical definitions (WHO ICD10 codes) 2005
McGinley v Schilling Whether a medical referee determining an appeal under Reg H2 Police Pensions Regulations 1987 decides the appeal at the date of the appeal, taking into account up-to-date evidence, or whether he is confined to reviewing the material that was before the selected medical practitioner that earning capacity and degree of disablement are to be determined at the date of the PMAB hearing. The latter was found. The appeal was a re hearing and not simply a review of the contested decision 2005
Merseyside Police v Gidlow The psychological harm suffered by a police officer as a result of a grievance procedure brought against him was not an injury received in the execution of his duty within the meaning of the Police Pensions 2004
R (on the application of Sussex Police Authority) v Cooling A stress-related psychiatric condition developed while an officer was suspended from duty could not be regarded as an injury received in the execution of duty. While suspended the officer could not be on duty 2004
Clinch v Dorset Police The claimant appealed refusal of his application for a police pension following an injury suffered, he claimed had occurred on police duty. He claimed to have suffered depression since he failed to be promoted. He said that they had wrongfully refused to refer his application for medical assessment. The judge ruled that the disabling psychiatric injury deriving from failure to achieve promotion to other duties does not meet the statutory test 2003
South Wales Police Authority v Morgan A case of a police officer’s depression being caused by (1) overwork  exacerbated by stress and anxiety from an investigation into an (2)  injury suffered by his three year old foster son, and (3) financial difficulties experienced during sickness absence and the resultant reduction in pay. In relation to the second and third of those, it was found could not have been injuries received in the execution of duty. On the other hand, the first – stress and depression caused by overwork – gave rise to different considerations and if it were a substantial cause of disablement the disablement could be an injury received in the execution of duty. 2003
South Wales Police Authority v Medical Referee (Dr David Anton) (Crocker) The courts had found that the task in assessing earning capacity was to determine what the person was capable of doing and thus capable of earning.
It was not a question of whether an employer would actually pay that person to do what he or she was capable of. Also Before apportionment can arise, each factor must separately have caused some degree of loss of earning capacity on its own
Jennings v Humberside Police In Jennings the test was whether the injury sustained had caused or substantially contributed to the disablement. A police officer, whose injuries sustained in a road accident while he was on duty had brought forward the symptoms of a pre-existing condition, was not permanently disabled as a result of those injuries for the purposes of the Police Pensions Regulations, and therefore was not entitled to an injury award 2002
Commissioner of Police v Stunt However elastic the notion of “execution of duty” could be, it did not encompass stress-related illness through exposure to disciplinary proceedings. Accordingly, an award was not payable to an officer disabled through his reaction to disciplinary proceedings. 2001
Stewart v Sussex Police Within the meaning of the Police Pension Regulations 1987, a police officer’s “ordinary duties” included operational duties. 2000
Yates v Merseyside Police Authority Police Pension Authority must refer the questions of the Regulations to a medical authority (SMP) unless the claim is “obviously spurious or vexatious”. 1999
R v Kellam ex parte South Wales Police Authority Officer contending that medical injuries were the result of harassment at work after his wife made a complaint about the chief constable – Whether causal connection between injury and service as police officer. Police officers whose depressive illness developed from the accumulated stresses of work qualified for an award. 1999
Dorset ex parte Vaughn The decision of the Selected Medical Practitioner is final
upon the Police Authority unless there has been fraud by the officer. In the absence of fraud the only remedy to challenge the certificate is through a Judicial Review, only if the Police Authority can establish that the SMP misunderstood the law.

Update: Fisher Revisited

Update: Fisher Revisited

Oh dear.  Nicholas Wirz, Northumbria’s solicitor, isn’t getting any love from his fellow legal practitioners.  Indeed they seem to totally contradict Wirz’s own interpretation of the Fisher judicial review, the one that he lost, and at the same time these real legal eagles agree with our own explanation.

Let us remind you what we said:

The Fisher Judgement & Uninjured Earning Capacity

And here is what the unprofessional lawyer Wirz told NWEF delegates in March 2017:

Ground 1 of the Fisher judgement related to comparator and the use of Police Salary, the high court judge quashed the PMAB determination for the reasons that the comparison between injured and uninjured earnings was not analysed sufficiently and there was no rationale as to why police officer salary was not used.
Clarification is provided by this judgement that police officer salary would be the correct comparator where the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy

Sarah Simcock writes in UK Police Law Blog, a blog of the Serjeant’s Inn barrister Chambers, that it isn’t about being otherwise healthy as Wirz told the NWEF conference, and it clearly isn’t about always using the police salary as the uninjured comparator – like we say, someone could have been underemployed as a police officer and their uninjured earning capacity can be a lot higher.  We used an example of a maxillofacial surgeon.

And if you read all of what Sarah and her fellow professionals of barristers and lawyers actual think … it’s fair to say you will decide that our explanation is closer to the truth.

The Fisher decision does not obligate an SMP or PMAB to use the officer’s police earnings prior to injury in all cases, it merely stresses that they must form part of the consideration or act as a starting point. If there are good reasons in a particular case for a departure from that level of earnings it is permissible, but it must be objectively justified on the facts of the particular case and on the evidence available.

What is crucial is that there must be sufficient reasons provided to justify a decision in relation to the level of a particular officer’s uninjured earning capacity.


Assessment of uninjured earning capacity in relation to a police injury pension

The recent decision of the High Court upon an application for judicial review of a Police Medical Appeals Board (‘PMAB’) decision in the case of R (Fisher) v (1) Chief Constable of Northumbria (2) PMAB [2017] EWHC 455 (Admin) highlights the pitfalls in the assessment of a former officer’s uninjured earning capacity when reviewing the level of an injury pension under regulation 37 of the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006.

We think people should stop listening to Nicholas Wirz.  Northumbria could save millions by paying him to stay at home in a locked broom cupboard.


Otherwise Healthy

Otherwise Healthy

“A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Methuselah’s Children

The March 2017 NWEF conference displayed a clear example wherein decision making becomes internally focused, defined by the needs and beliefs of the group.

Everyone nods their head and no-one in the audience calls out “that doesn’t sound right“.   Called “groupthink” it critically clouds decision making and of course the point about groupthink is that, if you are part of the group, you don’t realise that it’s there until it’s too late.

The legal advisor to NWEF, a person at the heart of the Fisher judicial review, harped on about the clarification given in the hearing he lost (note he says it was the PMAB who were the last decision makers, but this review of Mr Fisher’s injury award had Wirz’s fingerprints on it since 2008)

NW [Nicholas Wirz] provided an update on the recent high court judgement Fisher v Northumbria and PMAB. He highlighted the outcome of the judgement confirmed the case law brought about in the cases of Anton, Ayre and Walther (1).
Ground 1 of the Fisher judgement related to comparator and the use of Police Salary, the high court judge quashed the PMAB determination for the reasons that the comparison between injured and uninjured earnings was not analysed sufficiently and there was no rationale as to why police officer salary was not used.
Clarification is provided by this judgement that police officer salary would be the correct comparator where the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy.

Look at the sentence highlighted bold.  The Fisher JR doesn’t say the police salary is the only correct comparator. It says the police salary should be the start and, if the tests have been passed for the quantum to be calculated, as much effort should go into defining the uninjured as the injured earning capacity.  Uninjured earning capacity could be higher if the person was under-employed as a police officer.  We examined this with an example of an Oral and maxillofacial surgeon  in this blog.

But let us examine the other nonsense about being “otherwise healthy”.  What is Wirz trying to imply here?

glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measure of how efficiently kidneys filter the waste from our blood. Healthy young people commonly have GFRs of about 120. A GFR lower than 60 or another marker of kidney damage for more than three months means chronic kidney disease (CKD). At which point, patients become scared. 

But wait a minute. Kidney function declines with age in almost everyone, and the proportion of older people with GFR readings below 60 approaches 50 percent, studies have found. As the older adult population grows, the prevalence may rise even higher.

So there is an age-related decline in kidney function; however, not all individuals will develop CKD with advancing age and not all patients diagnosed with CKD need to worry about dialysis, because that’s what they associate with kidney disease.

When you’re told you have a disease, that’s a bad day.  A doubly bad day for you in the warped world of Wirz:  On the day your kidney disease was diagnosed, you woke up that morning with at least an uninjured earning capacity of a police officer – you went to bed without it, indeed supposedly with no uninjured earning capacity and therefore a default reduction to a band one.  

Should a diagnosis of CKD effect your injury award? No? Yes? Maybe…?

Nicholas Wirz thinks it should because now you are not “otherwise healthy”.

We can hear Wirz shouting at us!  ‘Don’t use your kidney disease example to misrepresent NWEF’s position’.

A “straw man” is when an argument is put forth —usually something extreme or easy to argue against—that is known that the opponent doesn’t support. You put forth a straw man because you know it will be easy for you to knock down or discredit.  We can’t find a word that describes when the argument actually pulls a punch compared to the true position maintained by the opponent – some sort of inverse straw-man.

Chronic Kidney Disease? Pah!, Wirz trumps that with neurological disease, namely Parkinsons.

So let us highlight the guidance Wirz has been providing to SMPs since 2014.

Wirz writes:

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. Alternatively, if an officer were to have become generally less fit by reason of advancing age, such that he was no longer able to undertake a physically demanding job, or no longer able to work full time, then the uninjured earning capacity would be reduced accordingly.

“[…] then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil.” That line is worth repeating.

The uninjured earning capacity is the alternative universe “you“.  The you that wasn’t injured; the you that excelled at life; the you that aspired to be the best and had no injury holding you back; the you back in the day when the world was your oyster. It is not the you in the real world, as you are now with co-morbidities. Co-morbidity is the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with (that is, concomitant or concurrent with) a primary disease or disorder.

Is Wirz a time-lord?  Can he categorically say you would have suffered from Parkinsons (or chronic kidney disease) HAD YOU NOT BEEN INJURED? Maybe the trauma led to the additional disorders?  Who knows.  This is as ridiculous as it gets.

Do you see what Wirz is trying to insert into the brains of those who listen to him?

A former officer has physical injuries all caused on duty.  His injuries have only deteriorated and he has struggled with chronic pain and mental health issues directly related to the chronic pain.  He has taken tricyclic antidepressants for long term analgesia.  He has chronic kidney disease because of the decades of reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

On his fifty-eighth birthday, he is diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson’s disease.  Just when he, and his family, needs his injury pension, Nicholas Wirz wants to make him a zero percent band one and remove thousand of pounds from their income.

But his duty injury is no better!  Is he now two hundred percent disabled? Yes, he has a further disability but this has nothing to do with his permanent disablement for carrying out the full duties of a police officer.  In effect, to reintroduce any concurrent disablement is tantamount to revisiting causation and apportionment.  Such lawyer tricks have been already declared unlawful.

Wirz wants to carry his corruption to the high court in order to “clarify” how things, in his world, should be.  A vulnerable person will be taken through hell just because Nicholas Wirz thinks the law needs to be tested.

This is what IODPA is dealing with.  If only other organisations, those there for the support of those injured on duty, will take up the clarion call and help us to stop these abuses.





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...