Double Standards at the Ministry of Justice
The admission by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that he was wrong to have pledged to vote against increasing student fees has sparked both anger and amusement in recent days, especially after being morphed into a rather catchy little tune. Mr Clegg is anxious for us to know that the thing for which he was actually apologising was that he signed an unconditional pledge to oppose tuition fee increases, and failed to predict a scenario where he might change his mind, i.e. being part of a coalition government.
In a similar vein, I was perusing the news archive on the NRPSI web-site (yes, I know I should get a life) and read through the minutes of a meeting held between NRPSI and MoJ on 29th December 2011. Amongst the attendees were Sian Pritchard of NRPSI, and a Graham Anderson of the MoJ. At one point, Sian ‘…asked how the MoJ was going to monitor the contract in respect of the quality assurance guarantees that ALS had made. In other words how will they ensure that quality is not sacrificed and that only qualified interpreters are used in Courts and Criminal Justice situations?’
The response from the MoJ is quite unequivocal. ‘…Graham insisted that under no circumstances would Tier 3 “interpreters” be used in these situations, and that they would actively monitor this.’
If one now refers to Section 2.9 National Audit Office report into the FWA contract, it shows that whilst Mr Anderson was giving his very explicit and unconditional assurance, staff at the MoJ had already given the green light to ALS to do the exact opposite, and allow un-assessed, un-vetted linguists to be let loose upon the justice system. Is that an example of acting in good faith?
It also calls into further question Lord McNally’s written response of 26th March to parliamentary questions where he stated that ‘…We have seen no evidence of unqualified or unvetted interpreters being assigned by ALS to provide services under the framework…’
Was Lord McNally intentionally trying to mislead parliament, or was he simply ignorant of what is happening in his own department? It appears that the relationship between the MoJ and ALS is based on the philosophy ‘…ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies..’
Personally, I think Graham Anderson owes us all a song.