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SHE NOW WON’T PUBLISH WHAT FOLLOWS:
Why the Warning Signs always show Green!
This story began years ago when I visited the Danish Ombudsman in Copenhagen. It influenced how I organised my own office ever since! He explained to me that he was on the side of the citizen against the State. He didn’t sit opposite his client across a table or across a desk. He sat sideways on. Ever since I have always tried to avoid putting a desk or a table between me and the person I was dealing with.
The Ombudsman came to the UK in 1967 with great expectations. Now you can find one handling your complaints in Finance, Furniture, Property and more besides.
Recently I have had two long drawn out painful experiences, first with the Local Government Ombudsman and then with the Legal Ombudsman. In both cases I never reached the actual Ombudsman. Assistant Local Government Ombudsmen were empowered to act in her name, backing each other up when queried. Legal Ombudsmen – 17 of them – are empowered to act in the name of the Chief Legal Ombudsman. Sadly I came to the conclusion they were acting on behalf of the State and Local Government against me, not the other way round. They did the dirty work. The Ombudsmen were not required to sign off their reports. Hands clean. Pockets lined.
What was this all about? A plan to put cycle lanes on a very narrow, very busy, very congested main arterial road through Gosforth, Newcastle, threatening to make the congestion worse, slowing the traffic down, increasing the toxic diesel fumes for any cyclists around and threatening the amenities of the area and the livelihoods of those providing them…. And, in Gosforth, for non-existent cyclists that they wrongly asserted existed in some numbers.
Incidentally this same one-sided, lopsided thinking is taking place now in London at Lambeth Bridge and the Imax roundabout at Waterloo at great public expense. More traffic gridlock south of the Thames from the very day the work starts.
I took a dossier of over 100 pages in length to Bindmans LLP paying them to write a pre-action Protocol letter to initiate judicial review against the Local Government Ombudsman. The LGO had totally ignored the grounds for my complaint, faulty consultation, and breaches of their own protocol by the Labour Council in Newcastle.
Going for judicial review is an expensive and high-risk enterprise. Without going all the way I wanted to flag up in the public domain the gross abuse of power or, as I have had to say over the years, “the lousy, stinking hypocritical charade” that we have a complaints process that works. Worth a bob or two to do that.
But what happens next? Two solicitors in Bindmans LLP say I do not have an arguable case and it would be “bound to fail.” Their professional protocol prevents them from writing the letter, mine <as a Barrister, non-practising> from pursuing judicial review. And they returned part of my payment.
When I questioned this, they said that this was their professional Advice and that was the end of the matter. When I took their Complaints policy to the Legal Ombudsman initially I was vindicated. They should answer the thirty-three criticisms of their Advice. When I took that back to Bindmans they said that two other lawyers said that their Advice was sound, so it must be so. When I took this back to the Legal Ombudsman between 20 December last and New Year – after months of prevarication – an Investigator rejected my complaint and a Legal Ombudsman – one of seventeen, you will recall – confirmed this. The Chief Legal Ombudsman was not to be found.
Complaints should be an early warning system that something is wrong. Did they flag up warnings about missing fire doors and out of date building regs in Camden?
When you disable a warning system, the warning lights are always on green. Never on red or amber. And those responsible for bad policy remain unaccountable, and they continue to pursue it.
Why did Bindmans LLP, well known Human Rights Lawyers try to prevent me asserting my human right to pursue judicial review, actually conspiring to pervert the course of justice? Why? You tell me. Maybe on the Left the Public Sector can do no wrong. Don’t suggest it did. Maybe you just shouldn’t stand in front of a steamroller owned by the State!
So, I threatened to take them to the Small Claims Court to get my money back. They paid another firm of solicitors, BLM, to tell me it could be very expensive. It would be referred to a higher court.
Sometime, somewhere, someone will ask why gigantic cock-ups happen. My case study on the Cycling Scandal in www.deathofanightingale.com/blog, may help them to understand.
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