You wrote, on 13th Dec: “It is not the role of the Ombudsman to...adjudicate disputed versions of events between agency officers and complainants.” Fair enough, but surely an important part of the Ombudsman’s role is to at least find out if there is a dispute about a version of an event! From the tone of your letter (“Clearly Ms Cameron has reviewed...”) it seems that you may not have even asked her whether my version of events is true or if she has another version to offer.
What has led you to believe that Ms Cameron has ‘clearly’ reviewed what occurred at the 25th. August meeting? Is this because she told you she had reviewed it? It seems, from your letter, that you spoke with her. If so, what was the result of her review? Did you ask her? Did she dispute my version of what was said in the meeting? Or, if Ms Cameron did not tell you that she had reviewed what was said in the meeting, how can you be clear that she did, in fact, review it?
Please, Elisa, ask Fiona Cameron what her understanding is of what was said in the meeting? Ask if my version is the same as her own. Ask what her version is. If you are not going to ask this central, critical, question, and insist upon an answer, I have clearly wasted my time making a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office in the first place. Fiona Cameron and the others who have refused to answer this one question must be delighted that they have been able to snow you with spin. Did you ask Ross Mathews and Julia Overton if my version of what was said is true or not? If not, please do.
Why is it important that this question be asked and answered? In a nutshell, if it goes unanswered a version of what has taken place goes on file that is untrue. I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about being lied to and about having lies placed on file – even if they are, in the grand scheme of things, trivial. Let me amplify. When I started to make a complaint last year and withdrew it, a significant part of my complaint would have been that Fiona Cameron had, in another matter, played fast and loose with the truth. She wrote to me statements, copied to others, that were not only untrue but that were demonstrably untrue – as would have been apparent to anyone who bothered to look at the facts. When I suggested to Fiona that she rely on the facts and not on spin she wrote to me to tell me that she would not communicate with my any further.
In her letter of 12th. November Fiona again plays fast and loose with the truth. Her letter is an exercize in spin. Life being too short to point out to her, in detail, just how factually incorrect her letter was I wrote to her to address only one of her many inaccuracies. And what do I get back from Fiona in response? An email to let me know that she would not communicate with me any further.
Fiona’s modus operandi (and she is not alone in government bureaucracies) is (1) Ignore emails/letters for as long as possible, (2) Write a response that (a) does not answer questions, (b) is not based on the facts (c) is demonstrably untrue and (3) When (a), (b) and (c) are pointed out to her she writes that she will communicate no more on the matter. The end result for the complainant is that a version of events goes on file that is totally untrue and the bureaucrat, having been neither transparent or accountable (indeed, having lied) has reinforced the notion that it is possible to act with impunity in whatever way they wish without being called to account.
In any dispute there are bound to be both facts and assertions. All assertions by the complainant or the person about whom a complaint is being made should be taken by the Ombudsman with a grain of salt. You have not done so in this instance. You have presumed that there is another version of what was said in the meeting of 25th.August without even asking what it is or enquiring as to whether or not it is true. If Ross Mathews, Julia Overton and Liz Crosby all say that my version of what was said is untrue, if all three provide you with a different version, you are confronted with two different sets of assertions and cannot, of course, pick between them. Someone is lying but how can you know who? However, if Ross, Julia and Liz all agree that I was told in the 25th.August meeting that my CHANTI’S WORLD application was ‘appropriate’ then this becomes a fact; a fact that leads to the not unreasonable question: “How could Julia Overton refer to it as ‘inappropriate’?
On the question of ‘facts’ I have attached my 25th.Nov. 2010 letter to Fiona (a copy of which was sent to your office) in which I ask Fiona to present me with evidence for assertions she has made in her 12th.Nov. letter. She doesn’t deal with the facts, however, but in an email to me presents more spin and then, in a subsequent email, declares that she will communicate with me not further.
Please, Elisa, ask Fiona, Ross and Julia the question. Deal with the facts. Beware of spin. Work on the presumption that just as I may be lying about what was said in the meeting, so too might Ross, Julia and Fiona. I think that you will find, however, if you ask them right upfront, that they will agree with my version – though they may try to couch their agreement in a cloud of obfuscating detail such as Fiona presented in her 12th. Nov. letter.