An account of Public Sector Complaints Procedures

We are complaining about the corrupt way the Valuation Office Agency handled a banding appeal. After 3 years of protesting to them and pointing out their various fraudulent acts, they finally admitted (2005) their organisation had "serious deficiencies" They were somewhat understating the case.

From March 2003 the VOA was negligent, slipshod and aggressive. Without any evidence/investigation they immediately took up a belligerent stance against us.

The VOA's Mrs K wrote that our appeal was 'out of time' (too late?) This was a lie. We contested this VOA decision and after waiting six weeks for a reply, we realised we were being treated with contempt. We complained about their incompetence in not answering our letters. We had waited long enough and asked for a 'report' (April 03). Mrs K replied (June 2003), that a Mrs Gupta would be investigating our case, she would do a 'report' and would be in touch. (It was not until some two years later did we discover that Mrs Gupta was never ever involved in our case).

Mrs Gupta had been fraudulently manufactured. She was a corrupt VOA/Ms K invention. We as taxpaying 'clients' were being corruptly handled!

When we pushed this (2003) lie home in 2006, the Ombudsman in her efforts to protect the VOA and at the same time trying to destabilise our case, concocted a further lie by issuing a statement. I quote; "They said [VOA] that 'report' was 'Agency internal jargon' and conveyed to Mr and Mrs Tanner the impression that they would receive a report". The Ombudsman was claiming (three years after the event) that the word "report" did not mean "report" but something different like "internal office jargon". We can prove this is a Complaint Procedures lie! The Ombudsman's office was trying to play down the corrupt long term "Mrs Gupta lie" in order to protect her public sector colleagues. The Ombudsman wrote in her Parliamentary Ombudsman Report that 'she saw no evidence of fraud or corruption'. She had closed her eyes to the corrupt 'Gupta' invention!

WE HAVE EVIDENCE IN OUR POSSESSION THAT WE HAD ASKED FOR A REPORT IN APRIL 2003. THE VOA/MS.K THEN RESPONDED TO OUR REQUEST AND IN JUNE 2003, THE VOA/MS.K WROTE IN REPLY, "I HAVE READ AND NOTED YOUR REMARKS, AND A REPORT HAS BEEN RAISED IN THIS OFFICE. THE REPORT HAS BEEN ALLOCATED TO MRS GUPTA".

Mrs Gupta of course did NOT EXIST as far as our case was concerned. One is appalled that the Ombudsman supports this public sector abomination by inventing 'porkies' to defend such an indefensible case of public sector corruption! We touch on this Ombudsman deceit later on.

Ms K also claimed our appeal was invalid. Another lie! Sixteen months later a Tribunal found that the Listing Officer, (Mrs K) should have granted our appeal as valid.

During this time however, (not realising the 'Gupta Report' was a gross VOA lie) we found ourselves asking for copies of the non existent Gupta report for many months. Yet no one within the VOA revealed to us this "Gupta report" was all a charade. The VOA was hiding another of Mrs K's blunders. We were being treated to the VOA's self-protective cover-up routine. We felt they were happy to keep us quiet by telling lies and treating us with further contempt.

Because we were persistent in following up our appeal, we were appalled when Mrs K then sent us Notice of Withdrawal Forms and asked us to sign them and return same; this was asking us to withdraw our appeal. We would not sign, but that did not stop her issuing more forms. More contempt!

She had made errors yet was asking us to withdraw. We viewed her actions as being despotic, and felt we were being harassed by the issuing of these forms. We had to write to the VOA asking them to stop sending us these oppressive Withdrawal Forms.

By this time it became clear to us that it was not any more an issue of our simple tax appeal to the VOA. It had by now, turned into a more serious matter concerning the corrupt way our appeal was being handled by the VOA!

My wife once rang Mrs K informing her I was hospitalised and having an immediate operation and would not be attending a VTS Tribunal the next day. Her immediate response was to inform my wife that our appeal was 'invalid' and could I fax her as to why I would not be attending the said Tribunal. She was a very uncivil servant.

We both appeared before a VTS Tribunal, I put my case and Mrs K opposed it. The Tribunal found in our favour that the Listing officer (Mrs K) should have allowed our appeal as being valid. It had taken us 16 wasted months to nail this lie! However the VOA then stunned us by claiming (30 Nov 2005) "That we would have to repeat the whole process" We were in shock, we were worried about the possibility of even more VOA chicanery.

Unfortunately at this time I was due to undergo 7 weeks of radiotherapy for cancer. The worry of the cancer, the treatment and the continuing struggle against the VOA and the complaint procedures was all too much.

We decided that under these stressful conditions we had to abandon our appeal to the Tribunal as the next hearing dates clashed with my cancer therapy.

We decided however we would continue to fight the corrupt handling of our appeal!

At one stage the VOA said they did not think the actions taken against us were deliberate. We thought this was a peculiar thing to say, because Mrs K's actions against us were particularly belligerent. She was too consistent in her acts against us to be thought of as anything else, other than deliberate - too many VOA errors to be thought of as 'accidents'. Also Ms K was not a newcomer learning the job, so to speak, but a mature Listing Officer who knew what she was doing - she knew the ropes.

Because of her aggression, we asked the VOA if 'other customers' had complained about her actions, we were told in as many words that she was untouchable and free from scrutiny - even from the FOI act. We contacted the FOI agency for this information - our letters went unanswered - this is still ongoing. (September 2006).

Because of our continuing complaints the VOA once told us they were holding an 'internal investigation'. Its verdict was that our main protagonist (Mrs K) had acted with the 'Best of Intentions'. We protested strongly that this was a shameful whitewash by the VOA 'investigator' and claimed she was too loyal, too attached, too accommodating of her office colleague Mrs K etc. The 'investigator' then did an about face and wrote that "Mrs K's professional conduct and behaviour towards you and your wife whilst handling your council tax affairs were less than satisfactory"!!!

We were dumfounded that the VOA would have set up such a diabolical cover-up investigation in the first instance? At a later stage we asked the Ombudsman as to who was responsible for setting up this appalling VOA whitewashing deceit - no answer. We realised then, that deceiving the public was part and parcel of the VOA make-up.

Undeterred by their first 'dodgy' investigative verdict to deceive us, the VOA then suggested that the Adjudicator could 'investigate' our case, but would use the insular VOA 'rule book' as an agenda. We felt this was another ruse that would avoid much needed transparency. This new proposed VOA 'narrow agenda' would be completely undemocratic and would further affect our civil liberties etc? We refused to become embroiled in a further VOA investigative ambush?

The VOA had been caught out lying to us - and because we chased up their lies - they tried at every twist and turn, with varying deceits, to stop us going forward with our disclosures? Later, to protect themselves even further, they wrote asking us to draw a line under what had gone on. We felt betrayed by such public sector arrogance. We ourselves have gone through life with honest endeavour. To be asked to take part in a VOA cover-up for this dysfunctional corrupt public sector regime that had gone out of its way to make life difficult for us was pure governmental moral decay.

Our belief is that such a self-protective request from a governmental aggressor to a client/victim is beyond all ethical reasoning in relation to natural justice. The degree of blase self-protectionism within this agency is alarming. We learned over the years about the VOA agency's severe inner squalor.

We have been through the Parliamentary Ombudsman's procedure and in reply to its final Report summary stated that we were shocked they had not used the words 'corrupt' or 'fraudulent' within the Ombudsman report. We pointed out other salient facts that were omitted within the report, and suggested the lack of punitive action was at the core of the problem. They offered us 75, we refused it.

We claimed, that only when such fraudulent/corrupt governmental Agencies are hit hard financially and their management made accountable, will such management sit up and take note of their departments 'loose cannons' and the abysmal public service they proffer? The Parliamentary Ombudsman's ability to 'soft soap' such fraud and corruption within its report, is a form of acquiescence to what had gone on within this self- protective Valuation Office Agency.

We have now entered into our fourth year (March 03 - Aug 06), we wrote to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, about our protest/struggles against the various Complaint Procedures. That from start to finish we found, that they were more user friendly towards the VOA and its civil servants, and somewhat weighted against the honest complaining client. We now view these complaint procedures as a sort of entrapment for any unwary complainant.

Thinking we had done with the VOA fiasco and the complaints procedures by receiving the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Report, we were shocked to learn from the Information Commissioners Office that we should go return to the VOA. The ICO for some unknown reason claimed 'we had not exhausted all the VOA investigative channels open to us re: the FOI Act.' We had been combating the VOA for over 3 years. We ask how had we not exhausted all the channels? Although we thought this directive was wrong, and wondered if we were being "hung out to dry", we had no alternative but to pursue the old question - "Had others complained about Mrs K?"

We therefore asked the VOA again for information under the FOIA. We had first asked for this information in February 2005. We could not understand why the ICO was not pursuing these VOA avenues themselves! Having waited for some time for a positive reply from the VOA, we learned that the Commons Constitution Affairs Committee was criticising government departments for holding up FOIA information by excessive red tape. We wrote to the CCAC explaining we had been waiting some months for a FOIA decision from the VOA.

We informed the VOA about the CCAC condemnations and also quoted Lord Falconer's statement when formulating the FOIA, he referred to it "as making information publicly accessible". "A presumption of openness" bringing "greater accountability and a radical change between citizen and government". We then claimed of the VOA Executive Officer: "You as a civil servant obviously disagree with the Lord Chancellor". This at last brought a response .

Having finished the procedures with the VOA and having received the Ombudsman Report, we felt our problems were somewhat eased. During this time we had been in touch with the ICO regarding Ms K.

The ICO however, confounded us by claiming the VOA had made an "honest oversight" in withholding the FOI information. Here was evidence of one public sector agency trying to protect another.

We told the ICO in no uncertain terms that we had suffered from too many VOA 'oversights' over the last 3 years. We let the ICO know we were unhappy with its Ombudsman style "slap on wrist judgement" designed to placate the VOA's 'serious errors and worse'. We further claimed that the ICO had shown a remarkable lack of jurisprudence in giving what we considered to be unworthy friendly considerations towards our protagonists the VOA. After all it was us who asked the ICO to investigate the deceitful VOA's handling of our case.

We have been overwhelmed by this entrenched public sector cover-up culture - we want the public to be made aware of what we see as, the entrenched self-protective public sector cover-up industry as afforded to civil servants.

On the 10th July 2006 the VOA gave us a long legal account as to why they were not able to provide us with the information we sought through the FOI Act regarding Mrs K. We replied amongst other criticisms that: "It is a crime that this government agency, guilty of fraudulent acts against a complaining client, can protect itself from public scrutiny by engineering and enmeshing itself in a costly legalised defensive barbed-wire entanglement". Such a gold plated "Al Caponish style" public sector protection racket, is an inducement for loose cannons to free-wheel out of control. We added: "This powerful legal protection that you have en-massed is unwarranted, considering your supposed duty, is first above all else, to provide a public service and not a Machiavellian employee fortress".

The Parliamentary Ombudsman had given us a 'soft soap' decision regarding the ICO's neglect in answering our letters etc. We had occasion to write two severely critical letters to her in June 2006. In one of these letters, in frustration at the cover-up culture we had encountered, we claimed; "The public deserved its own style of Ombudsman service, that had no affiliations with the public sector".

We must have annoyed the Ombudsman Ann Abraham, who foisted upon us ANOTHER un-called for Ombudsman Report (July 06). She was trying to destabilise us and crush our case with 'porkies'. We asked why do we have to endure another Ombudsman Report - is this not breaking the rules? We had not asked our MP to initiate another Ombudsman report! (The proper procedure!) We had to explain to her that we had already received an authentic Ombudsman Report in March 2006, the Ombudsman James Barker concluded his report as follows.."I do not see that there is anything further the Ombudsman's continuing intervention could do for you".

The real reason for this latest report from Ann Abraham was that she tried to destabilise our case by "manufacturing" evidence. She was trying to claim that the word report as used in 2003 was internal jargon and did not mean report at all! We claimed she had invented the "internal jargon excuse" and that this excuse had a dodgy public sector ring about it. We can prove she is wrong!

However, we claimed that her 'internal jargon lie' had only been invented in 2006 as an excuse, and been gleefully taken up by the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Office with great relish, to undermine our case against the VOA. It is interesting to note that no other investigator throughout the years had picked up on this "office jargon wheeze" circa 2003.

In her latest un-called for Ombudsman's Report, Ann Abraham was dismissive of all our claims against the VOA. She wrote "I have seen no evidence that the Agency Enfield staff were fraudulent or corrupt". We quote just one piece of fraudulent/corrupt action she turns a blind eye to. It concerns the 'VOA's corrupt Gupta report': In 2003 we asked for a report concerning our appeal. In response to our asking for this report Mrs K informed us (4 June 2003): "The report has been allocated to Mrs Gupta. Once Mrs Gupta has finished her research on your property, she will write to you".

In 2003 we asked several times for a copy of the Gupta report. For instance on the 12th Aug 2003, I wrote to Mrs K and asked: "Since June I am awaiting a promised report from Mrs Gupta - what has happened to her?" We wrote again and again over many months - the VOA was showing us further contempt by refusing to answer our letters? We realised they were covering up for the blundering Ms K. The scale of contempt shown towards amounts to corruption!

(1) What makes matters even worse is, it was not until some two years later did we discover that Mrs Gupta had not been involved with our case - never ever. The Ombudsman is dismissive of this corrupt contempt towards us!

(2) We had been deceived by this fraudulent/corrupt VOA claim that Mrs Gupta was doing a report?.

(3) The VOA had hidden this fraudulent information from us.

(4) They had belittled us by allowing us to rather stupidly continue to ask for copies of this non-existent report over many months, without "letting on" it was all a corrupt/fraudulent VOA/Mrs.K stunt! We believe this is corruption of duty! We were humiliated when we discovered we were asking for copies of a report that did not exist.

Despite all this severe VOA maladministration /fraudulent deceit, we are seriously dismayed at the Ombudsman's unjust protective stance of the VOA's actions against us.

We had received an authentic Parliamentary Ombudsman's Report in March 2006 from a Mr. James Barker. He concluded his report as follows, "I do not see that there is anything further the Ombudsman's continuing intervention could do for you".

FOUR MONTHS LATER, BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO INTERVENE AND SUBJECT US TO FABRICATIONS - THE OMBUDSMAN FALSELY CLAIMED THAT MR BARKERS AUTHENTIC REPORT WAS A MERE 'DRAFT'!

THE REASON THE OMBUDSMAN CREATED ANOTHER 'REPORT' WAS THAT IT ENABLED HER TO DECEITFULLY CIRCUMNAVIGATE THE VOA'S "MRS GUPTA'S REPORT LIE".

The only way the Ombudsman could do that, was by usurping Mr Barker's report and claiming it was only a "draft". This enabled her to write another devious attacking Ombudsman Report containing the dreaded Ombudsman "porkies".

The Ombudsman had by SUBTERFUGE invented the "Internal Jargon lie", hoping to get the VOA off the hook.

We repeat the Ombudsman claim: "SHE HAS SEEN NO EVIDENCE THAT THE AGENCY'S ENFIELD OFFICE OR ITS STAFF WERE FRAUDULENT OR CORRUPT"???? We have claimed this Ombudsman is not fit for office!

Whilst an honest Ombudsman service is much needed, ours has fallen by the wayside. It lacks full commitment to honesty, lacks integrity and impartiality.

The Home Office, Immigration Service, Inland Revenue, Local Council, Police etc., all have more than their fair share of severe incompetents, fraud and corruption. The Ombudsman, by and large, pays lip service to this gross public sector maladministration.

This severe lack of public duty enables the fruition of an enormous dung-heap of rotten public sector verbiage, allowed by the Ombudsman's intransigence to over-spill, choke and at times deliberately submerge much transparency and democracy within the public sector. It is an insidious situation that gives much protection to, and allows many individuals and departments to become lawless and play God. The Ombudsman's infamous "slap on wrist" judgement often lets public service miscreants 'off the hook' allowing them to continue in office.

There appears to be a substantial thread of injudicious deceit and worse flowing through the public sector complaint procedures. Scandalous stories involving numerous government departments continue to arise, showing them as either corrupt, fraudulent, severely incompetent or indeed a combination of all three.

Such a rotten lawless dung-heap allows barbaric acts to be perpetrated, for instance where unlawful Social Workers falsely accuse innocent families of satanic abuse etc. Innocent children are taken away with the unlawful backing of our police force. Social Workers are only too aware, that under this historic public sector cover-up system they and the police are virtually untouchable.

The immoral manipulation within the public sector never seems to end. When innocent parents, who have suffered the trauma of having their children taken away from them, decide to complain, it is not unknown that upstart council officers, abusing their power, instruct their legal departments (who comply without a murmur) to issue and threaten these innocent parents with unlawful "gagging orders". Such public sector 'thuggery' goes unpunished.

We can only view these gross public sector barbaric criminal actions against innocent members of the public, as also being crimes against the state! It is quite immoral that such iniquities are funded by tax-paying complainants.

We feel that years of 'jackbooting' hundreds of thousands of complainants into touch by various complaint procedure deceits and Ombudsman manipulations is a danger to public order and a threat to the survival of the state. These gross entrenched actions, by these "Couldn't care less" perpetrators of fraudulent complaints procedures, we feel, is tantamount to sedition.

The public needs an Ombudsman type service devoid of public sector affiliations.

AW Tanner (Jim).

Further details: www.psow.co.uk/awtannerpage.html
Letter to the Prime Minister from Mr. and Mrs. Tanner.
Further letter to the Prime Minister from Mr. and Mrs. Tanner.
Letter to Des Browne M.P. from Mr. and Mrs. Tanner.
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E-mail ijjohnston@totalise.co.uk