200211 To NAO re Escalation of Complaint

11/02/2020 to NAO 
Sent: 11 February 2020 17:12
Subject: RE: GF 1231 19 – Stage 3 Complaint

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter of 11/02/2020.

Please:

1. Advise the means by which I may escalate this to a non-NAO, independent party – possibly the Independent Complaints Assessor; do you fall within their remit? If so, please refer the matter.

I am not seeking your apology for Mr Kay’s actions. I was not ‘led to believe’ a schedule of DCP Rates exist, Mr Kay unequivocally wrote, in response to my stating a concern about there being no such set of rates, that they exist. Yet when approach by the Authority a month later, they explain a misunderstanding? What misunderstanding – the meeting was about the lack of DCP Rates?

2. What steps did you take to identify how the misunderstanding occurred, of what caused Mr Kay to write the opposite of what he was told and when will this be explained to me.

To date, it appears the Authority simply panicked and managed to have Mr Kay alter an accurate record. I assume I am to accept the lesser of 2 ‘evils’; that Mr Kay, who audits a substantial Public Authority keeps notes that are not simply inaccurate but the complete opposite of what he was being told? I still await the explanation for this.

I believe any reasonable, unbiased person would conclude (quickly and simply) that Mr Kay’s meeting record pertains to DCP rates, it is detailed and makes no reference to ‘ASC rates’; you wish to have me believe Mr Kay wandered off into another sphere of operation making no note of what he was being told despite me raising a very specific issue. That whilst Mr Kay was being told about a process that does not involves thresholds, claims etc., this is what he made notes of … that the conversation did not deal with DCP rates … yet this is all he wrote about!

Why should Highways England write to Mr Kay clarifying the position, explaining that his single page record of the meeting is whimsical, that he was ‘off with the fairies’ or similar? Highways England should be explaining how they answered Mr Kay’s questions about the lack of as schedule of rates (the point of the meeting) in such a way that he was reassured this was wrong and clearly records ‘ASC (contract) include a schedule of rates. Mr Kay clearly approached the Authority seeking someone who could address this, who could answer my concerns that there was no schedule of rates. I presented my complaint clearly to Mr Kay; I could not believe that the Authority had no price list and had been rubber-stamping invoices unable to reconcile them since 2012.

Highways england presented a written rebuttal of Mr Kay’s original note of the meeting (the Authority has none). Where is Mr Kay’s explanation to them or his response … what does he put his ineptitude down to?

Mr Kay’s written record evidences a set of rates. The Authority says ‘none’ – but of course, if they are demonstrated to be untruthful a s55 FoIA offence is likely to have bene committed. Then there is the issue of the FoIA requests, such as can be found here – https://www.englandhighways.co.uk/release-the-rates/ … just how much public money did the Authority spend trying to keep secret rates which, they now say …. Are not held, do not exist.

3. How have you achieved a reasonable assurance that the amounts / disclosures are free from material misstatement?

The Authority has now disclosed to you that for 8 years they have had no schedule of rates against which to reconcile every about £10,000 invoice … 100’s, 1,000’s of them over the years. You failed to identify this.

I have also explained a contractor giving false figures and a willingness to engage in fraudulent conduct and misrepresent facts to the Court.

4. Regarding the suspension of the NSoRC, please provide me all information you possess about this, to include a copy of the memo of the meeting – through I question what fail can be placed in Mr Kay’s records.

You are seeking to convince me that the issue I have raised is irrelevant, from your auditing perspective. I disagree, I believe you are devaluing its importance. Recoveries are identified as an income for the Authority. But the figures are misrepresented by a contractor https://www.englandhighways.co.uk/summary-of-exaggeration-and-fraud/ . Then there is the pain / gain situation

I am not concerned the Authority is so compromised as to be ineffective. I am concerned this does not bode well for HS2 and Smart Motorways – you may wish to review some of the posts at www.englandhighways.co.uk – see below.

The profiteering, exaggeration and fraud is that which I have discovered when examining claims. I understand this is a small aspect of the Authority’s work – there is potential for much larger deceit

5. Please also provide all supplementary records, all post 31/10/2019 notes about the NSoRC; months have passed without any updates. Instead, Kier Highway shave implemented another profiteering process Using less granular rates) and the Authority, unable to recover monies or obtain responses from its contractors (it appears) has found it necessary to employ private lawyers, as opposed to Government Legal Department. Whilst claiming to want o avoid disputes and seek reasonable payments, the Authority is demanding interest on claims from the date of loss – for the delays they and / or their contractor have given rise to!

With regard to my letter of 22/01/2020 (also attached) this was not intended to be, in its entirely, an FoIA request. Rather, many of the questions were intended to demonstrate to you’re the bizarre and irrational stance taken by the NAO, the U-Turn adopted by Mr Kay. I note your FoIA department is citing s12 and s14 – the latter I find offensive; there is no desire on my part to be burdensome and I remind you that I find myself in this predicament due to the conduct of the NAO, due to the incompetence. On the one had you offer apologies, on the other you object to my trying to make sense of your behaviour.

What of the disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation and distress Mr Kay’s conduct and those who seek to dismiss my valid complaints has upon me?

Kindly reconsider the s12 & s14 response and at the very least identify which of the points raised are considered to fall under s12 and how you have calculated the time taken will exceed the prescribed limit and in turn, why (even if the time limit is exceeded) you have elected to take a negative stance toward me as opposed to assisting me to understand a mess of your making. I am seeking internal review.

Yours,

P. Swift

09/03/2020 Response here.