MISCONDUCT IN PUBLIC OFFICE

Judicial Office Case Study

This page contains a record of the email exchanges that took place between a British Citizen and the Judicial Office

This Case Study adds to the Misconduct in Public Office series of Case Studies.

Dates of emails: 09.09.2020, 30.10.2020, 01.10.2020, 06.10.2020, 08.10.2020 (x3), 09.10.2020 (x2), 24.10.2020 (x2), 26.10.2020 (x2), 03.11.2020 (x2), 13.11.2020, 20.11.2020 (x3), 28.11.2020, 30.11.2020 (x2), 14.12.2020, 15.12.2020, 13.01.2021, 18.01.2021, 22.01.2021, 27.01.2021 (x2), 28.01.2021.

From: [Investigator] 

To: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 9 Sept 2020, 09:30

Subject: Freedom of Information Request

 

Dear Disclosure Team

 

 

I would like to submit an Information Request that relates to the Judicial Oath of Office that is taken by Judges that service the HMCTS Courtrooms. I am made to understand that the oath is taken verbally when the Judge assumes office, but I would expect that the Judicial Oath itself is written down somewhere. If not already in the public domain (and I would ask that you please point me to where I can access it), I ask that you please provide me with copy of the oath. 

 

Is a Judge required to take a new Oath of Office when they transition from one level of Judge to another please?

 

I ask also for copy of the Operational Procedure document that describes the required qualifications and training for Judicial Office, the procedure that is followed when a Judge gets selected, appointed to office, and sworn in, and the procedures for how the Judge’s performance is monitored throughout the Judge’s term of office.

 

Please confirm if Judges are covered by the Civil Service Code? (If not, what equivalent Code governs service in Judicial Office please?)

 

I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to provide copy of the signed record of Judicial Oath for named Judges who are currently in office?

 

If you do, I would ask for copy of the signed Judicial Oaths for Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

If you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths, please confirm if the 14 Judges named in the paragraph above have taken the Judicial Oath, which oath(s) it is that they have taken, and on what dates? [In that event, I would also ask why you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths]. 

 

I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to confirm if Judges are, at any point, asked to declare any interests that may conflict with the independence and impartiality required in the execution of their duties? I ask also if this is a continuing obligation.

 

I ask if you are able to provide copy of the up-to-date record that shows the interests declared by Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

I have attached my ID documents to this email.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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From: [Investigator] 

To: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 30 Sept 2020

Subject: 9th September FOI Request

 

Dear Disclosure Team

 

 

Reference is made to my email of 9 September 2020, 09:30hrs (quoted below).

 

Are you able to provide me with an update regarding the processing of this Information Request please?

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

To: [Investigator]

Cc: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 1 Oct 2020, 03:08

Subject: RE: 9th September FOI Request

Dear Mr [Investigator],

We are currently processing your request. The statutory deadline for our response is 07 October 2020

Kind Regards,

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From: [Personal JO email address of JO employee who shall heretofore be referred to as Officer 1] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 6 Oct 2020, 11:45

Subject: FOI Request 200910001

 

 

Dear [Investigator]

 

Please see the attached response to your FOI request.

 

Many thanks

 

Judicial HR

 

Judicial Office

10th Floor, Thomas More Building, RCJ

[Investigator]

□□□□□□□□@□□□□□.com

Disclosure Team Ministry of Justice 102 Petty France London

SW1H 9AJ

data.access@justice.gov.uk 6th October 2020

Dear [Investigator]

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request – 200910001

Thank you for your request dated 9th September 2020 in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

I would like to submit an Information Request that relates to the Judicial Oath of Office that is taken by Judges that service the HMCTS Courtrooms. I am made to understand that the oath is taken verbally when the Judge assumes office, but I would expect that the Judicial Oath itself is written down somewhere. If not already in the public domain (and I would ask that you please point me to where I can access it), I ask that you please provide me with copy of the oath.

 

Is a Judge required to take a new Oath of Office when they transition from one level of Judge to another please?

 

I ask also for copy of the Operational Procedure document that describes the required qualifications and training for Judicial Office, the procedure that is followed when a Judge gets selected, appointed to office, and sworn in, and the procedures for how the Judge’s performance is monitored throughout the Judge’s term of office.

 

Please confirm if Judges are covered by the Civil Service Code? (If not, what equivalent Code governs service in Judicial Office please?)

 

I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to provide copy of the signed record of Judicial Oath for named Judges who are currently in office?

 

If you do, I would ask for copy of the signed Judicial Oaths for Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

If you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths, please confirm if the 14 Judges named in the paragraph above have taken the Judicial Oath, which oath(s) it is that they have taken, and on what dates? [In that event, I would also ask why you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths].

 

I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to confirm if Judges are, at any point, asked to declare any interests that may conflict with the independence and impartiality required in the execution of their duties? I ask also if this is a continuing obligation.

 

I ask if you are able to provide copy of the up-to-date record that shows the interests declared by Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

Your request has been handled under the FOIA and I have answered each part of your request in turn below.

I can confirm that the MoJ holds the information that you have requested regarding written oaths. However, the information is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is reasonably accessible to you. The information can be accessed via the following link: https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-judiciary-the-government-and- the-constitution/oaths/. I can confirm that the Oaths are taken verbally by Judges when they assume office.

I can confirm that Judges are required to take a new Oath of Office when they transition from one level of Judge to another.

The qualifications and training for judicial office holders varies dependent on the specific post. The eligibility criteria for each selection exercise run by the JAC is provided by the  MoJ. Judicial College is responsible for training. The process for the selection of judicial office holders is set out on the JAC website. Those who are selected by the Commission are recommended for appointment to the relevant Appropriate Authority. The Appropriate Authorities options in relation to the recommendations are set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The appointment, swearing in and performance of the judiciary are the responsibility of judicial office and the judiciary.

I can confirm that Judges are not civil servants and are not covered by the Code. Judges work under the Guide to Judicial Conduct. A copy of the guide can be accessed by using the following link:

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Amended-Guide-to-Judicial-Conduct- revision-Final-v002.-March-2020.pdf

I can confirm that the MoJ holds some of the information that you have requested regarding the Judicial Oaths for the named Judges who are currently in office. However, this information is exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because it contains personal data. Please also note that information regarding interests declared by Judges is also deemed as personal information.

Personal data can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

We believe releasing the requested information into the public domain would be unlawful. Individuals have a clear and strong expectation that their personal data will be held in confidence and not disclosed to the public under the FOIA.

This is an absolute exemption and does not require a public interest test.

A list has been put together below containing the dates of some of the Judges that you have listed, when thy took their Oaths. Please note some Judges have common surnames and therefore there are more than one recorded, so further clarification would be required of the Judges full name.

Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE – 22nd January 2010 Lady Justice King – 8th October 2014

Mr Justice Swift – 11th October 2018

Mr Justice Julian Knowles – 3rd October 2014 Mr Justice Cobb – 11th January 2013

HHJ Hallam – 25th February 2008 HHJ Gosnell – 5th October 2010 HHJ Saffman – 10th April 2013

Please also note that the Oaths taken by Recorders is the function of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). We would therefore not hold this information.

Appeal Rights

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to request an internal review by responding in writing to one of the addresses below within two months of the date of this response.

data.access@justice.gov.uk

Disclosure Team, Ministry of Justice, 10.25, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ

You do have the right to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint. However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning their investigation.

Yours sincerely

Judicial Office

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From: [Investigator] 

To: [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1]

Date: 8 Oct 2020, 16:57

Subject: Re: FOI Request 200910001

 

Dear Judicial HR

 

 

Thank you for your 6th October 2020 dated response to my 9th September FOIA Request (Your Ref: 20091000).

 

I do not believe that signed Judicial Oaths should be kept from the Public. Judicial Office holders occupy a high position of trust. 

 

The judicial oath provides: “I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this Realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.” Every time a Judicial Office holder presides in open Court, they are contracting with the public. 

 

How can a party a contract (i.e. the British Public), be told that they do not have the right to see the other party’s signature on the contract document? Judges are getting off lightly when we rely on the Judicial Oath that they took when they assumed office in in our absence; the alternative is to say the oath out loud in open court every time they preside over a case!

 

The signature that they put on the Oath document when they assume office is their commitment to the public. Nothing on that document is exempt from disclosure. The public has a right to see those Oath documents.

 

There is nothing private/personal about the names of public officials engaged in the duties of their office. The moment an individual assumes public office, there are certain privacy rights that they lose. 

 

Consider the politicians who sign treaties on the behalf of the UK. They use their own signature, but because they are contracting on our behalf, we the public, have the right to see those signatures and whatever other ‘personal information’ is contained on the signed Judicial Oath documents.

 

 

I hereby request that an independent reviewer please look into this matter. 

 

I am asking ‘for copy of the signed Judicial Oaths for Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman…’

 

As for ‘declared interests’: How am I going to verify (should I wish to), that the declared interests of a Judicial Office holder do not not conflict with his (or her) performance of his public duty?

 

I am not asking to be told of every interest/sport/hobby that a named Judicial Office holder has engaged in since childhood; I want just the ones that they themselves (‘they’ meaning the Judicial Office holder), has declared when required to as part of undertaking the Judicial Office. This information (declaring interests), is done especially so that the public can be keeping an eye out to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. If there is anything that members of the public are entitled to know about a Public Official, it is ‘Declared Interests’.

 

When one assumes the role of Public Official, they will be well aware that their ‘Declared Interests’ are entering the public domain. It comes with the territory.

 

And so I repeat the request I sent to <data.access@justice.gov.uk> in email of 9 September 2020, 09:30hrs.

 

Please ‘provide copy of the up-to-date record that shows the interests declared by Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.’ (if I should go to HMCTS for the interests that have been declared by Recorders; apologies for re-stating the ‘Recorder’ part of FOIA Request – 20091000).

 

The independent reviewer to please look into this issue as well.

 

I look forward to receiving the FOIA 20091000 Review Output in due course.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1]

Date: 8 Oct 2020

Subject: FOI Request 200910001 (the Judge first names)

 

Dear Judicial HR

 

 

Reference is made to my email of 8 October, 16:57hrs (quoted below). 

 

I forgot to provide you with the additional information that would help you identify the Judges named in my FOIA Request (Your Ref: 200910001). Here they are:

 

* HHJ Eleanor Smith

* HHJ James Brown

* HHJ Gillian Matthews QC

* HHJ Klein – I have no idea what his first name is, but he is based in the North (Leeds Combined Court, Queens Bench & Chancery divisions of the High Court)

 

Please supply me with the outstanding FOIA 200910001 information, and please pass on the detailed Judge name designations to the independent reviewer.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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From: [Investigator] 

To: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 8 Oct 2020

Subject: 9th September Freedom of Information Request (Recorders)

 

Dear Disclosure Team

 

 

Reference is made to my FOIA Request of 9 September 2020 (quoted below).

 

I hereby acknowledge receiving from the Judicial HR, a part response to my Information Request. Their response email had date & time stamp: 6 October 2020, 11:45hrs, and their Ref was: FOI Request 200910001. (I am in the process of corresponding with them regarding the parts of their FOIA supply that I disagree with.)

 

According to Judicial HR, ‘the Oaths taken by Recorders is the function of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). [They] therefore [do] not hold this information.’ I think, Disclosure Team, that the ‘Declared Interests’ of Recorders, would, as well be handled by HMCTS, and not the Judicial Office?

 

Was the Disclosure Team aware of this splitting when they sent my FOI Request out to the Business Unit(s) for processing? i.e. when you sent out this FOI request to the Judicial Office, did you send copy also to HMCTS (so that they would cover the Recorders)? Is the HMCTS Business Unit referred to by Judicial HR aware of the 9th September FOI Request? Just checking.

 

You may need to pass on to that HMCTS Business Unit, my entire FOI request of 9th September 2020 (quoted below), so that HMCTS attends to all the parts that pertain to them.

 

I look forward to hearing back from you in due course.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

To: [Investigator]

Cc: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 9 Oct 2020

Subject: RE: 9th September Freedom of Information Request (Recorders)

 

Dear Mr [Investigator]

 

Thank you for your email.

 

All of our responses to FOIs are on behalf of the whole of the MoJ. The team that responds to your request are the ones that are best placed to do this.

 

Kind Regards,

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 9 Oct 2020

Subject: Re: 9th September Freedom of Information Request (Recorders)

 

 

Dear Disclosure Team

 

 

I hereby acknowledge receiving your email of 9 October 2020, 14:55hrs (quoted below).

 

I am not attacking you or accusing you here. Maybe you are not getting me?

 

I am saying that according to ‘Judicial HR’ of the Judicial Office, the response to my 9th September FOI requires input from two different MoJ Business Units. 

 

The HMCTS Disclosure Team forwarded my request to the one Business Unit (i.e. the Judicial Office), but not the other (the one that deals with Recorders).

 

I am not saying that you were wrong to send my request to the Judicial Office, you did well (thank you). You however should have sent request to another Business Unit besides just the Judicial Office. 

 

Talk to ‘Judicial HR’ if what I am saying is not making sense to you. The Reference Number that the Judicial Office have assigned to my 9th September FOI Request is 200910001.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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From: [Investigator] 

To: Disclosure Team <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Date: 24 Oct 2020

Subject: FOI Request 200910001 (internal review)

 

Dear Disclosure Team

 

 

Reference is made to the email of 8 October 2020, 17:35hrs that I sent to <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

regarding my 9th September Freedom of Information Request (Your Ref: 200910001).

 

I mentioned in that email:

‘I am in the process of corresponding with them regarding the parts of their FOIA supply that I disagree with.’

 

I sent Judicial HR two emails of 

8 October 2020, 16:57hrs, and

8 October 2020, 17:11hrs

regarding the FOIA 200910001  outstanding information & internal review, but 

[Officer 1] is yet to get back to me. Please advise.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

 

———- The 8 October emails that I sent to Judicial HR are quoted below ———-

 

[emails not repeated in this compilation]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator]
To: [Email address of NWY Judicial Support Unit]
Date: 24 Oct 2020
Subject: Information Request Re:Recorders

Dear NWY Judicial Support Unit


My name is [Investigator], and I have a routing problem that I need assistance with.

I submitted a Subject Access Request to HMCTS’ Disclosure Team in email of 9 September 2020, 09:30hrs that I sent to <data.access@justice.gov.uk>

Among other things, I had asked for signed copy of the Judicial Oaths for named Recorders (Recorder Bond & Recorder Oldham), and I had asked also, to be informed of the interests that they have declared on the record. Copy of the full information request is quoted down below.

The Disclosure Team sent my Information Request to the Judicial Office for processing, but the Judicial Office are saying that they don’t cover Recorders, so we are a bit stuck.

Would you know the name & contact details of the HMCTS office that handles the HR issues of Recorders please? If so, I would be grateful if you would please signpost me to them.

(What I am after is the ‘Judicial Oaths’ & the ‘Declared Interests’).

I look forward to hearing back from you in due course.


Yours Sincerely
[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Email address of NWY Judicial Support Unit] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 26 Oct 2020

Subject: RE: Information Request Re:Recorders

 

 

Good Morning

 

This is not something my team can deal with – our judicial support is for magistrates.

 

However, I have forwarded your email on to our Regional Support Unit.  They have informed me that they will forward your request on to the Disclosure Team to deal with.  The Disclosure Team will allocate accordingly. 

 

□□□□ □□□□

JSU Team Leader

North and West Yorkshire Judicial Support Unit , HMCTS, Leeds Magistrates’ Court, PO Box 97, Westgate, LEEDS, LS1 3JP

DX 743890 Leeds (Westgate)

Phone: 0113 285 5770 

Web:  www.gov.uk/hmcts

 

I am not authorised to bind the Ministry of Justice contractually, nor to make representations or other statements which may bind the Ministry of Justice in any way via electronic means.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [Email address of NWY Judicial Support Unit]

Date: 26 Oct 2020

Subject: The Recorders Enquiry

 

Dear NWY Judicial Support Unit 

 

 

Thank you for your email of 26 October 2020, 10:54hrs. It’s definitely a routing problem. Noone seems to know the name of the office that deals with HR issues for Recorders.

 

Thank you for your efforts. Hopefully your enquiries will help bring my request to the right desk.

 

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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From: [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 3 Nov 2020

Subject: FOI Internal Review 201008044

 

Dear [Investigator],

 

Please find attached a response to your recent request for an internal review.

 

Best wishes,

Judicial Office

Judicial Office

Royal Courts of Justice

www.judiciary.uk

[Investigator] □□□□□□@□□□□.com

Disclosure Team Ministry of Justice 102 Petty France London

SW1H 9AJ

data.access@justice.gov.uk 3 November 2020

Dear [Investigator],

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Outcome of Internal Review – 201008044

Thank you for your Internal Review request dated 8th October 2020 regarding FOI request 200910001 in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

(I have numbered your requests below for ease of reference).

 

(1) I would like to submit an Information Request that relates to the Judicial Oath of Office that is taken by Judges that service the HMCTS Courtrooms. I am made to understand that the oath is taken verbally when the Judge assumes office, but I would expect that the Judicial Oath itself is written down somewhere. If not already in the public domain (and I would ask that you please point me to where I can access it), I ask that you please provide me with copy of the oath.

 

(2) Is a Judge required to take a new Oath of Office when they transition from one level of Judge to another please?

 

(3) I ask also for copy of the Operational Procedure document that describes the required qualifications and training for Judicial Office, the procedure that is followed when a Judge gets selected, appointed to office, and sworn in, and the procedures for how the Judge’s performance is monitored throughout the Judge’s term of office.

 

(4) Please confirm if Judges are covered by the Civil Service Code? (If not, what equivalent Code governs service in Judicial Office please?)

 

I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to provide copy of the signed record of Judicial Oath for named Judges who are currently in office?

 

(5) If you do, I would ask for copy of the signed Judicial Oaths for Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

(6) If you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths, please confirm if the 14 Judges named in the paragraph above have taken the Judicial Oath, which oath(s) it is that they have taken, and on what dates?

 

(7) [In that event, I would also ask why you are not allowed to provide members of the public with copy of the signed oaths].

 

(8) I ask also, if under Freedom of Information, you are able to confirm if Judges are, at any point, asked to declare any interests that may conflict with the independence and impartiality required in the execution of their duties? I ask also if this is a continuing obligation.

 

I ask if you are able to provide copy of the up-to-date record that shows the interests declared by Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder Bond.

 

The purpose of an Internal Review is to assess how your FOI request was handled in the first instance and to determine whether the original decision given to you was correct. This is an independent review: I was not involved in the original decision.

The responses to your original requests were as follows:

  1. The response to your request for information relating to the judicial oath, and for a copy of that oath, was that such information was exempted under section 21 of the FOIA because the information is reasonably accessible to you. The response to these requests included a link by which such information and copies could be accessed (https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-judiciary-the-government-and-the-constitution/oaths/).
  1. The response to your request for information regarding whether judges are ‘required to take a new oath […] when they transition from one level of judge to another’ was to confirm that such information was held, and the response provided such information (confirming that judges ‘are required to take a new oath of office when they transition from one level of judge toanother’).
  1. The response to your request for a ‘copy of the operational procedure document that describes the required qualifications and training for judicial office, the procedure that is followed when a judge gets selected, appointed to office, and sworn in, and the procedures for how the judge’s performance is monitored throughout the judge’s term of office’ was incomplete. The response failed to confirm whether such information was held. The response did explain that the qualifications and training for judicial office holders varies dependent on the specific post. The response also explained that the eligibility criteria for each selection exercise run by the JAC [Judicial Appointments Commission] is provided by the MoJ. The response explained that the Judicial College is responsible for training. The response explained that the process for the selection of judicial office holders is set out on the JAC website, and that those who are selected by the JAC are recommended for appointment to the relevant Appropriate Authority. The response also gave information about the swearing-in process. Finally, the response explained that the Appropriate Authority’s options in relation to the recommendations are set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The response failed to address whether information was held regarding the ‘operational procedure’, and how the procedures for how the judge’s performance is monitored throughout the judge’s term of’
  1. The response to your request for information regarding whether judges ‘are covered by the Civil Service Code’ was to confirm that such information is held. The response explained that judges ‘are not civil servant and are not covered by the Code.’ The response also explained that ‘judges work under the Guide to Judicial Conduct’. A link to that guide was provided (https://judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Amended-Guide-to-Judicial-Conduct-revision-Final-v002.- March-2020.pdf).
  1. The response to your request for signed records of ‘judicial oath for named judges who are currently in office’ was that such information is exempted from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because the information contains personal data which can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act
  1. The response to your request for information about the oaths taken by 14 named judicial office holders provided the dates that some oaths were taken by some of the judicial office holders. The response also explained that oaths taken by Recorders are a function of HMCTS, meaning that such information is not
  1. The response for your request for information regarding why there may be prohibitions on providing members of the public with copies of signed oaths failed to confirm whether such information was held. The response did indicate that the reason for this would be that personal data can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.
  1. The response for your request for information about judges being asked to declare any interests, and for your request to be provided with copies of the declared interests, was that such information is exempted from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because the information contains personal data which can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act

After careful consideration I have concluded that the response letter – which responded to these 8 broad requests – was partially compliant with the requirements of the FOIA. I have outlined my findings below.

Statutory deadline

The statutory deadline for your request was 5 November 2020 and the response was provided on 6 November 2020. The response was therefore not compliant with the timeliness requirements of the FOIA. I am sorry that the response was not provided before the statutory deadline.

Outcome

In order to appropriately address your request for an internal review, I will address each of the eight elements of your request:

  1. The first element of your request was for thefollowing:
    1. Information ‘that relates to the judicial oath of office that is taken by judges’ that preside over cases in HMCTScourtrooms,
    2. A copy of that oath.

The response for 1a and 1b was that such information was exempted under section 21 of the FOIA because the information is reasonably accessible to you. The response to these requests included a link by which such information and copies could be accessed (https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-judiciary-the-government-and-the- constitution/oaths/).

I believe that the response to 1a is correct. Section 21 of FOIA states:

  • Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant otherwise than under section 1 is exempt
  • For the purposes of subsection (1)–
    • information may be reasonably accessible to the applicant even though it is accessible only on payment, and
    • information is to be taken to be reasonably accessible to the applicant if it is information which the public authority or any other person is obliged by or under any enactment to communicate (otherwise than by making the information available for inspection) to members of the public on request, whether free of charge or on
  • For the purposes of subsection (1), information which is held by a public authority and does not fall within subsection (2)(b) is not to be regarded as reasonably accessible to the applicant merely because the information is available from the public authority itself on request, unless the information is made available in accordance with the authority’s publication scheme and any payment is specified in, or determined in accordance with, the scheme.

This means that if the requested information is held by the public authority, and it is reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means, it is not subject to the public interest test. I believe that the response correctly assesses that the information requested in 1a is accessible by reasonably accessible to you by other means.

.

  1. The second question was for information regarding whether judges are ‘required to take a new oath […] when they transition from one level of judge toanother’.

The response to 2 was to confirm that such information was held, and the response provided such information (confirming that judges ‘are required to take a new oath of office when they transition from one level of judge to another’). I believe that this response was correct.

  1. Your third question was for thefollowing:
    1. a ‘copy of the operational procedure document that describes the required qualifications and training for judicialoffice,
    2. the procedure that is followed when a judgegets
      1. selected,
      2. appointed tooffice,
  • and sworn in,
  1. and the procedures for how the judge’s performance is monitored throughout the judge’s term of’

The response provided information requested at 3bi, 3bii. An earlier section of the response had already provided information about the swearing-in process.

For questions 3a and 3c that we did not provide a substantive reply for which we apologise.

3a: Information describing ‘the required qualifications and training for judicial office’ is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is reasonably accessible to you. The information about qualifications can be accessed via each of the subheadings at this link: https://www.judicialappointments.gov.uk/overview-selection-process. I apologise that I cannot be more specific in regard to which exact web page provides you with the required information, as you have not been specific about the type of qualifications required for judicial office. Information about training can be accessed at these two links: https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/training-support/judicial-college/ and https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/training-support/judiciary-trained/.

3c: I have considered this request for information but I am unable to answer it without further clarification. Section 1(3) of FOIA does not oblige a public authority to answer requests where further clarification is required to identify and locate the information requested. If you still require this information after this letter is received, you will be welcome to submit a further request via data.access@justice.gov.uk. In such a request, please can you explain more precisely what you refer to when you describe a judge’s ‘performance’.

  1. Your fourth request was for the followinginformation:
    1. Information regarding whether judges ‘are covered by the Civil ServiceCode’,
    2. Information regarding an equivalent code which governs judicial conduct The response to 4a confirmed that such information is held. The response explained that judges are not civil servants and are not covered by the Code. I believe that this was the correct

The response to 4b explained that ‘judges work under the Guide to Judicial Conduct’. A link to that guide was provided (https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Amended- Guide-to-Judicial-Conduct-revision-Final-v002.-March-2020.pdf). I believe this response was incorrect. The information requested in 4b relates to information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as the Judiciary are not a body covered in Schedule 1 of the FOIA which governs which public bodies and organisations are covered by it. On a discretionary basis and outside the scope of the act, I would also explain that information reasonably accessible to you outlines that there does exist a ‘Guide to Judicial Conduct’ – which is a document authored by the judiciary and intended for the judiciary.

Information about this document and a link to the document itself can be found at this link: https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/guide-to-judicial-conduct/. You will note that this page (as accessed on 23 October 2020) confirms that the guide is ‘not a code’, therefore I do not believe that the provision of such would have correctly satisfied your request 4b.

  1. Your fifth request was for signed records of oaths for judicial oaths for Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE, Lady Justice King, Mr Justice Swift, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, Mr Justice Cobb, HHJ Matthews QC, HHJ Hallam, HHJ Brown, HHJ Smith, HHJ Gosnell, HHJ Klein, HHJ Saffman, Recorder Oldham, and Recorder

The response to request 5 was that such information is exempted from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because the information contains personal data which can only be

released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

I believe that this response was incorrect, for which I apologise. However, I believe that information requested in question 5 relates to information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as it is not listed as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the act which lists those bodies that fall under the FOIA.

  1. Your sixth request was for thefollowing:
    1. confirmation that the aforementioned judicial office holders had takenoaths,
    2. confirmation of which oaths had beentaken,
    3. and information regarding the dates on which these oaths were taken. The response to request 6 failed to confirm whether such information was held. The response provided the dates that some oaths were taken by some of the judicial office holders. The response also explained that oaths taken by Recorders are a function of HMCTS, meaning that such information is not

I believe that the response to 6a and 6c was incorrect, for which I apologise. Again, this is because information requested in 6a and 6c relates to information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as it is not considered a public authority in Schedule 1 of the act.

I also believe that information requested in 6b is exempted from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is reasonably accessible to you. The provisions regarding judicial oath-taking are stated at: Part 2 schedule to Promissory Oaths Act 1868, section 76 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, sections 22 and 24 of the Courts Act 2003, section 22 of the Courts Act 1971, section 10(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981, and sections 22(2) and 24(2) of the Courts Act 2003.

I do also believe that it was incorrect of the response to state that recorders’ oaths are information ‘not held’, as HMCTS is an executive agency of the MoJ. However, I believe that information about the dates on which oaths were sworn by recorders also relates to information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as it is not considered a public authority in Schedule 1 of the act.

  1. Your seventh request was for information regarding why the disclosure of signed oaths may not be permitted.

The response to 7 was to explain that such information is exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because it contains personal data. The response explained that personal data can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. The response outlined that it believed the disclosure of such information would have been unlawful because individuals have a clear and strong expectation that their personal data will be held in confidence and not disclosed to the public under the FOIA.

As I have already explained, I believe that this response was incorrect. I believe that the correct response would be to confirm that signed judicial oaths are not within the scope of

FOIA because they constitute information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as it is not considered a public authority as it is not covered in Schedule 1 of the act.

  1. Your eighth request was for thefollowing:
    1. information about whether judges are asked to declare conflicts of interest; and
    2. information about the declared conflicts of interests of a number named judicial office

The original response addressed 8b only, stating that such information is exempted from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, because the information contains personal data which can only be released if to do so would not contravene any of the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Again, I believe that this response was incorrect. I believe that the correct response would be to confirm that this information is not within the scope of FOIA because it constitutes information held by the judiciary of England and Wales, which is not covered by FOIA as it is a public authority not covered in Schedule 1 of the act.

I also believe that the original response failed to address request 8a, for which I apologise. However, this information would also be exempted under section 21 of the FOIA, because it is reasonably accessible to you. The process by which judges may disclose conflicts of interest to parties in a case are explained in the Guide to Judicial Conduct, details of which have already been provided.

Conclusion

In conclusion, for the reasons outlined above, I believe that the original response was partly compliant with the FOIA.

Appeal Rights

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Commissioner is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to your request differently, if she considers that we have handled it incorrectly.

You can contact the ICO at the following address: Information Commissioner’s Office https://ico.org.uk/Global/contact-us 

Yours sincerely

Judicial Office

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Email address of HMCTS’ North-East Region FOI & DPA Team] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 13 Nov 2020

Subject: FOI 201024011 Response

 

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

Please find attached the response to your Freedom of Information request relating to Recorders.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

□ □□□□

Knowledge and Information Liaison Officer

 

North East Region

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

 

 

 

[Investigator] □□□□□□@□□□□.com

Disclosure Team Ministry of Justice 102 Petty France London

SW1H 9AJ

data.access@justice.gov.uk 13 December 2020

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request – 201024011

 

Thank you for your request dated 24 October 2020 in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

 

A signed copy of the Judicial Oaths for named Recorders (Recorder Bond & Recorder Oldham). Also “Declared Interests” of the named Recorders.

 

Your request has been handled under the FOIA.

 

We are interpreting your request to mean that like FOIA request 200910001, you are requesting the signed record of the Judicial Oaths of the named judges above and any declaration of any interests by them that may conflict with the independence and impartiality required in the execution of their duties. The response should not have referred you to HMCTS for the requested information as this should have included HMCTS as being part of the MoJ as an executive agency.

 

As in our response to Internal review FOI 201008044 and FOI 201008035 we have already confirmed that the MoJ held some information on the other judges in the requests, and the same applies to those you have listed in this request.

 

However just as in those responses the Judiciary are not a public authority listed under Schedule 1 of the act that’s covered for the purposes of FOIA. Its disclosure regime does not, therefore, apply to them. Nor does the FOIA regime apply to the Judicial Office, (I refer to above this includes HMCTS as an executive agency of the MoJ), to the extent that it holds information on behalf of members of the judiciary.

 

The FOIA does not oblige a public authority to create information to answer a request if the requested information is not held. The duty is to only provide the recorded information held.

 

 

Appeal Rights

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to request an internal review by responding in writing to one of the addresses below within two months of the date of this response.

 

data.access@justice.gov.uk

Disclosure Team, Ministry of Justice

 

You do have the right to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate any aspect of your complaint. However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning their investigation.

 

Yours sincerely

 

[signature supplied]

□ □□□□ [Name Supplied]

NE Delivery Director’s Office

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] and [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1]

Date: 20 Nov 2020

Subject: Re: Information Request related to 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear Judicial HR

 

 

Am I to expect a response to my email of 3 November 2020, 16:58hrs? (said email is quoted below this one).

 

In return for being able to transact with the public in their duties of office, the expectation is that the Judiciary need to be transparent about their affairs. Disclosure of the Register of Interests & signed Judicial Oath documents is really the bare minimum. Judges occupy a position of power similar in influence to Company Directors (Company Law), we should be having a publicly accessible register that contains even their Dates of Birth – similar to the one held by Companies House.

 

I am almost certain I saw Judge dates-of-birth published on an official webpage sometime in 2019. The listing I saw even had photos photos of each Judge. That information was in the public domain in 2019. Somebody must have taken it down. Judge name, Judge photo, level of Judge, and Date of Birth. It was all available online.

 

Digressions aside, I am asking to see copy of the signed Judicial Oath documents, and copy of the Register of Declared Interests for the named Judges. Supply of the requested information is long overdue. (In all fairness, the 200910001 initial response should have quickly given me the not-covered-by-FOIA reportback & passed the request on to the General Enquiries Team for supply without this whole convoluted process).

 

When you say that Judges are not Civil Servants it’s a matter of semantics (a Barber can call themselves a ‘Hair Trimming Specialist’ but… a rose by another name is still a rose). The Judiciary is a Public Institution whose rules and regulations must be publicly accessible. The Judiciary was established to serve the public. If you have fiduciary duties to the public, it is like the relationship between a Trustee & Trust beneficiaries; the beneficiaries have a right to hold the Trustee to account over their management of the Trust to check whether or not the Trustee has abided by the terms stipulated in the Trust documents. It’s called legitimate questioning.

 

Judge signatures are not private information; taking Administrative Court Judges as an example, they put their signatures on Court Orders every day of the week. That’s what signatures are for. The signature is not private information when it is on the Court Order, but when it is appearing on the Judicial Oath document it is suddenly becomes private information? It really is quite absurd to be told I cannot see the Judge’s signature now that it is on the Judicial Oath document on account of it being his/her private information.

 

I stand by the submissions in my 8 October emails.

 

It is imperative before becoming a Public Official that one investigates the legal and personal implications; some of your ‘personal information’ remains in the public domain even after you leave office (moreso if you are a high-ranking public official).

 

The requested information please. I, (and all the other members of the public), am entitled to it.



Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 20 Nov 2020

Subject: RE: Information Request related to 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear [Investigator],

 

Thank you for this email. Messages to this mailbox are not routinely monitored. Further correspondence in relation to FOI requests can be directed to data.access@justice.gov.uk.

 

Should you wish to make a complaint about a recent internal review, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Commissioner is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to your request differently, if she considers that we have handled it incorrectly. You can contact the ICO at the following address: Information Commissioner’s Office, https://ico.org.uk/Global/contact-us

 

Best wishes,

Judicial Office

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] and [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1]

Date: 20 Nov 2020

Subject: Re: Information Request related to 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear Judicial HR 

 

 

I hereby acknowledge receiving your email of 20 November 2020, 15:14hrs.

 

 

My email of 20 November 2020, 11:08hrs was not a FOI request, that much was clear. I did not in any way intimate that it was a FOI Request. May you please re-read that email & process it as requented.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [email address of Judicial Office Chief Executive]

Date: 28 Nov 2020

Subject: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear Mr □□□□

 

 

My name is [Investigator]. I am a disgruntled member of the public.

 

I write to bring to your attention the Judicial Office’s failure to address the general enquiry that I submitted to them in emails of 3 November 2020, 16:58hrs and 20 November 2020, 11:08hrs which were addressed to [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] & [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1]

 

I had originally requested the information under the provisions of Freedom-of-Information in email of 9 September 2020, 09:30hrs that I sent to  <data.access@justice.gov.uk> the information request was processed by members of Judicial Office (Officer 1, and a colleague of his who failed to identify him/herself by name), under the reference numbers 200910001 & 201008044. I understood JudicialHR to say that the Judiciary is not covered by the FOIA. (I will not go into whether they are right or wrong, I will just take their word for it for the sake of progress.) 

 

What Judicial HR do not appear to understand is that the right to access information was not created by the GDPR. The requirement for Openness & Transparency is intrinsic to the nature of government (the Judiciary being one of the arms of Government – Legislature, Executive, Judiciary) seeing as ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

 

The Principles of Public Life 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

apply to all holders of Public Office (a Public Official is a Public Official, and Principles (unlike rules), are universal).

 

The fact that the FOIA has not listed the Judiciary among the public institutions covered by that legislation does not mean that the Public is not entitled to request any information of the Judiciary!

 

The public entitlement is rooted in the Law of Contract (members of the Judiciary will understand this law all too well). According to the Law of Contract, non-disclosure makes a contract void. (‘We’ govern by contract: No contract, no government).

 

The Judiciary is transacting with the public in a critical way when they preside over cases in HMCTS courtrooms. They occupy positions of trust. And yet it is not demonstrable to members of the public that the Judges have taken their oath of office.

 

The Judicial Office has published the wording of the standard Judicial Oath yes, 

https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-judiciary-the-government-and-the-constitution/oaths/

the Judicial Office has published a list of all the Judges yes, (it appears like it.)

https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/who-are-the-judiciary/list-of-members-of-the-judiciary/

https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/who-are-the-judiciary/senior-judiciary-list/    (the column for dates of appointment for High Court, Family Division appears blank.)

BUT there is a missing link; the actual commitment of each Judge to the published oath is not demonstrable. A valid contract needs a signature.

 

Members of the Judiciary may preside over us only if a valid contract was entered into. If the legal document that evidences that a Judge took the oath that I am being told the Judge took cannot be shown to me (or any member of the public) upon request, how do we know the signed document even exists? (especially given that most swearing-in ceremonies are not televised, and it would be impossible to accommodate all members of the public who would want to attend anyway) 

 

If we (the public) are not allowed to have sight of the signed oath documents, how do we even begin to consider that a meeting-of-minds ever took place? How do we know what Oath the Judge swore allegiance to?

 

According to the record, a member of the public (me) requested to have sight of signed copy of the Judicial Oaths of named Judges. That was on the 9th of September 2020. Two months+ later, the Judicial Office is failing to produce the signed documents. The public (all of us) is now therefore entitled to assume that said documents do not exist and the named Judges have no authority to be presiding over us and all their judgements to date (and ongoing) are NULL and VOID.

 

What kind of fool accepts that they are party to a contract where a meeting of minds is not demonstrable? 

 

A legal contract needs signatures. Your refusal to release those signed documents into the public domain can only mean that we are not party to whatever contract it is that was entered into when the Judges were sworn in. IF I am party to a contract, I am entitled to see the other party’s signature on the contract document!

 

That I (a member of the public), have had to struggle so so much to obtain such basic basic contract information from, (of all places), the Judicial Office is a BIG red flag. What kind of a Judicial Organisation does not understand the importance of signatures on a contract?

 

I will ask one last time, Judicial Office; for the requested information – requested as per my email of 3 November 2020, 16:58hrs.

 

I will be generous and give you a further 72hours to supply the requested information before I escalate this matter. Your time starts… now.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

 

And another thing:

(I refer here to Judicial HR’s IR_201008044 letter of 03.11.2020)

It is by no means acceptable for Public Officials to send out official letters or emails that do not carry the Name & Job Title of the document author on their face.

 

Just to arrange redelivery on the Royal Mail website, one finds themselves being asked to tick all the boxes that have traffic lights… stairs, motorbikes, zebra crossings or whatever the flavour of the day is. And yet receiving no-name ‘official’ emails/letters from government employees via the internet is supposed to be acceptable to members of the public?

(Reissue that letter please, Judicial HR’s IR_201008044 letter of 03.11.2020).

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [email address of JO Business Support Team]
To: [Investigator]
Date: 30 Nov 2020
Subject: RE: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

Dear Mr [Investigator],
 
Please accept this as acknowledgement of receipt of your email below which has been passed to me to respond to.
 
I will investigate the matters you have raised and provide a substantive response in due course.
 
Regards,
 
□□□□ [Officer 2]
  
□□□□ □□□□|Data Privacy Officer|Judicial Office|11th floor Thomas More|Royal Courts of Justice|Strand|London WC2A 2LL| www.judiciary.gov.uk|www.twitter.com/JudiciaryUK

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator]

To: [email address of JO Business Support Team]

Date: 30 Nov 2020

Subject: Re: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear BST

 

 

I hereby acknowledge receiving your email of 30 November 2020, 16:49hrs.

 

I look forward to hearing back from you in due course.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator]

To: [email address of JO Business Support Team]

Date: 14 Dec 2020

Subject: Re: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear [Officer 2]

 

 

Reference is made to your email of  30 November 2020, 16:49hrs.

 

You had said to expect a substantive response in ‘due course’. 2weeks later, are you in a position to provide a more accurate delivery date?

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [generic email address of JO Data Privacy Officer – Officer 3] 

To: [Investigator]

Cc: [generic email address of JO Data Privacy Officer – Officer 3]

Date: 15 Dec 2020

Subject: RE: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Unfortunately we are not able to provide an exact date for a response, but will provide one as soon as possible.

 

Kind regards,

□□□□

 

□□□□ □□□□

Data Privacy Support Officer, Business Support Team

Judicial Office

11th floor, Thomas More Building, Royal Courts of Justice

www.judiciary.uk

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 
Sent: 13 January 2021
To: [email address of Judicial Office Chief Executive]
Subject: Re: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

 

Your Business Support Team [email address supplied] acknowledged receipt of my email of 28 November 2020, 20:39hrs in their email of 30 November 2020, 16:49hrs.

 

As of 12 January 2021 their ‘substantive response’ is still outstanding. Is that supposed to be acceptable Mr □□□□?

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [email address of JO Business Support Team]
Date: Monday, 18 January 2021
Subject: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044
To: [Investigator]

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

Your email below was passed on to me.

 

I apologise we have not yet provided a response to the matters you raised in your email of 28 November.

 

The matter is in hand.

 

Regards,

 

□□□□ [Officer 2]

 

□□□□ □□□□|Data Privacy Officer|Judicial Office|11th floor Thomas More|Royal Courts of Justice|Strand|London WC2A 2LL|www.judiciary.gov.uk|www.twitter.com/JudiciaryUK

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [Investigator] 

To: [email address of Judicial Office Chief Executive]

Date: 22 Jan 2021

Subject: Misconduct Complaint: for the attention of Internal Affairs Investigation Team

 

 

Dear Judicial Office

 

 

Reference is made to the emails of 28 November 2020, 20:39hrs and 13 January 2021, 09:30hrs that I sent to [email address of Judicial Office Chief Executive]

 

Besides acknowledging receipt of the concern (in their email of 30 November 2020, 16:49hrs) and telling me that ‘The matter is in hand’ (in their email of 18 January 2021, 11:59hrs), [email address of Business Support Team] are still to provide me with ‘a substantive response’ on the matters raised. Not only that, they claim to to be unable to provide me with any for of processing timelines indicator – as per the 15 December 2020, 10:45hrs email that I received from  [generic email address of JO Data Privacy Officer – Officer 3]

 

An investigation, by definition, has timelines built into it. The issues I raised in my email of 28.11.2020 remain unresolved nearly two months later, and it is not demonstrable that an investigation is currently in progress (a structured investigation has timelines & regular updates built into it. There is no integrity AT ALL in the way this matter has been handled. And when there are no timelines and regular updates being given to the complainant, openness & transparency are also lacking). 

 

I hereby submit formal complaint against the Manager responsible for this ‘investigation’ on allegations of breach of duty, professional misconduct, gross incompetence, and fraud.

 

Requiring JO staff to append their names to correspondence, and release information that ALREADY should be in the public domain is not a hard thing to do. (The JO should already be having a Register of Interests, and signed copy of the Judicial Oath documents. If an investigation was indeed being conducted, the documents would have been supplied by now; where’s the holdup? – & would the JO please add HHJ David Cooke & the Welsh Judge Gwyn Jones, to bring the total number of named Judges to 16?). 

 

 

I submit also complaint that it took the JO six months to respond to my letters of 15.04.2020 & 06.05.2020 (I received 03.12.2020 dated letter on JO letterhead last month. As indicated in my letter of 14.12.2020 (which the JO is yet to respond to), that 3rd December letter was unsigned). Please also investigate the circumstances around that unsigned letter of 3rd December and correct it for validity: Institutions like the JO can only act via Agents. If the Agent who acted in the name of the JO cannot be identified, the action they took is a nullity, and therefore invalid.

 

The wilfulness of the misconduct beggars belief!

 

A diligent investigation of these matters is in order. It contravenes sections 1 & 2 of the Bribery Act, 2010 for the JO to continue paying a ‘salary’ to public officials who are deliberately pursuing such a course of misconduct.

 

Please pass these concerns to Internal Affairs for investigation, enough time has been wasted already.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: [email address of JO Business Support Team] 

To: [Investigator]

Date: 27 Jan 2021

Subject: RE: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

I apologise for the length of time it has taken to provide the attached response to your email below.

 

Regards,

 

□□□□ [Officer 2]

 

□□□□ □□□□|Data Privacy Officer|Judicial Office|11th floor Thomas More|Royal Courts of Justice|Strand|London WC2A 2LL|www.judiciary.gov.uk|www.twitter.com/JudiciaryUK

See 200910001 & 201008044 complaint response below

 

Mr [Investigator] 

□□□□@□□□□.com

 

27 January 2021

 

Dear Mr [Investigator],

 

I write in response to your email, dated 28 November 2020 in which you complain about not receiving responses to emails you sent on 3 November 2020 and 20 November 2020 addressed to [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] and [Personal JO email address of JO employee – Officer 1].

 

I apologise you did not receive a response to your emails of 3 November and 20 November. Although you should have received an automated response advising that the [Judicial Private Offices FOI Team email address] mailbox was not monitored.  

 

In your email of 28 November, you make a number of other points. I have sought to summarise these and set out responses below:

 

  1. The requirement for Openness & Transparency is intrinsic to the nature of government (the Judiciary being one of the arms of Government – Legislature, Executive, Judiciary) …

It is not correct that the Judiciary are an arm of Government. Under the United Kingdom’s constitution, the powers of the judiciary, the Executive and Parliament are separated, so that the judiciary can decide cases free of any improper pressure, including interference by Parliament or the Executive. The responsibility of the judiciary to decide cases in which the  government is a party also requires the judiciary to be independent of government. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA 2005) separated the judiciary and the Executive by making the Lord Chief Justice the Head of the Judiciary in England and Wales, rather than the Lord Chancellor.

 

In respect of openness and transparency, except in limited circumstances in which justice would not be served, cases heard by judges are open for members of the public or press to attend and judges provide written reasons for their decisions. In many cases these decisions are published.

 

  1. The Judiciary is transacting with the public in a critical way when they preside over cases in HMCTS courtrooms. They occupy positions of trust. And yet it is not demonstrable to members of the publicthat the Judges have taken their oath of office.

 

It is not a legal requirement for all judges to have taken the Judicial Oath before hearing cases. The law has different requirements for different types of judge. For example, Judges who sit in the Crown Court (i.e. High Court Judges, Circuit Judges and Recorders) are required to take the Judicial Oath ‘as soon as maybe after accepting office’ (see sections 10(4) Senior Courts Act 1981, 22 Courts Act 1971 and the Promissory Oaths Act 1868). Therefore, there is no prohibition on them hearing cases prior to their swearing-in ceremony. Also, no statutory provision relates to the taking of oaths or not by Deputy District Judges appointed under section 8 of the County Courts Act 1984 and section 9(6) of the 1981 Senior Courts Act specifically exempts Deputy High Court Judges appointed under s.9 of the Act from having to take the judicial oath.

 

  1. Members of the Judiciary may preside over us only if a valid contract was entered into. 

Your refusal to release those signed documents into the public domain can only mean that we are not party to whatever contract it is that was entered into when the Judges were sworn in.

 

It is not correct that the Judiciary may only preside over cases if a contract was entered into. Judges do not act under contract. Judges’ authority to hear cases derives from their appointment to the relevant judicial office by the Appropriate Authority. Candidates for appointment as judges are recommended by the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The Judicial Oath is not a form of contract and it is not a legal requirement for Judicial Oaths to be signed. Evidence a judge has taken a Judicial Oath is not an indication that a judge has entered into a contract. The purpose of the Judicial Oath is to reinforce judicial independence and impartiality.

 

Yours sincerely

 

□□□□ □□□□

Data Privacy Officer [Officer 2]

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From: [Investigator] 

To: [email address of JO Business Support Team]

Date: 28 Jan 2021, 00:12

Subject: Re: Judicial HR Complaint over (Your Ref) 200910001 & 201008044

 

Dear BST

 

 

I hereby acknowledge receipt of your email of 27 January 2021, 17:38hrs. Its contents have been noted.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

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From: [Investigator] 

To: [email address of Judicial Office Chief Executive]

Date: 27 Jan 2021

Subject: Thank you Mr □□□□

 

Dear Mr □□□□

 

 

I hereby acknowledge receiving email of 27 January 2021, 17:38hrs from your Business Support Team delivering to me letter of the same date, copy of which is attached. Thank you. 

 

I will not comment on (the corruption evidenced in) the text of the response. There is corruption everywhere to be honest. What isn’t everywhere, is employees who so disrespect their boss. I am appalled, and you have my sympathies.

 

Yes, they have now sent me the letter of 27 January, but look how much effort & pushing it has taken to get them to do just that. (I  am just taking that 27 January letter as the official response. That the contents of the letter indicate that the letter’s author is clueless about the nature of Government is immaterial to the fact that the Team’s clear unwillingness to do their jobs  is right intolerable).

 

One cannot read their attached 27 January response and judge it appropriate that it took the JO two months to supply it? Why are they having to be nudged and prodded to do a job that they voluntarily signed up for?

 

The Business Support Team have had this simple & straightforward concern in their in-tray since November. When prompted/nudged for a response they issue platitude statements like [generic email address of JO Data Privacy Officer – Officer 3] ‘s 15.12.2020 “Unfortunately we are not able to provide an exact date for a response, but will provide one as soon as possible.” and [email address of JO Business Support Team] ‘s 18.01.2020 “The matter is in hand.” Playing games instead of working.

 

Why has an investigation that should normally be completed in 2 weeks dragged on for months? [it’s not enough for them to say ‘okay we will start responding now’. The question of why they hadn’t been delivering the written response will need to be answered. Even if they now they say they will go on their best behaviour, what they ‘did’ in the past is still employee misconduct!  A clear & easy illustration is the thief TWICE caught red-handed who says ‘okay, okay, I will stop stealing now, and I will never steal from anyone ever again’. That’s what he said last time!!! EVEN IF THE MAN IS AS GOOD AS HIS WORD, his past actions are still a crime. Why have I had to be working this hard just to solicit a response? And why should YOU find yourself having to receive emails like this from members of the public?]

 

I have been everywhere Mr □□□□, no other Govt Dept/Executive Agency/whatever they want to call themselves gives their boss the runaround to this extent!

 

I may not know what is happening in the Judicial Office, but I know what is not happening: Consequences are not being visited on JO employees who misconduct themselves.

 

 

You have my sympathies Mr □□□□. 

 

 

Yours Sincerely

[Investigator]

 

Thank you again. 

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