MoJ cannot say it wasn't warned about ALS
On 15 October 2012, senior Ministry of Justice employees Peter Handcock CBE, Ann Beasley and Martin Jones gave shocking evidence to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chaired by Margaret Hodge MP
(watch the hearing again here). They confirmed that senior officials had ignored important advice when contracting with Applied Language Solutions Ltd for the provision of interpreting and translation services to H.M. Courts and Tribunals Service.
Procurement officers and senior post holders disregarded a financial report advising against giving ALS any contract worth more than £1 million, and awarded ALS a contract worth 42 times that amount.
As well as ignoring this information, it is clear that staff at the Office for Criminal Justice Reform and their HMCTS and MoJ bosses ignored the enormous volume of representations it received from interpreters and their professional organisations over a very long period from 2009 to date. Even if our letters and petitions did not go straight in the bin, the MoJ failed to pay heed to our warnings and to follow up on them by making appropriate checks of ALS.
Why, when the Ministry of Justice refused to listen throughout 2009 and 2010, ignored our responses to its belated window-dressing exercise in pretend consultation in 2011, and completely turned its back on professional interpreters in 2012, did we continue to write to them?
Why warn them that professionals did not support the ALS contract, that ALS was leading the Ministry by the nose, that checks needed to be made? Why warn the MoJ that ALS had nowhere near the number of workers it needed to service the contract? Why warn the MoJ that those who were registered with ALS had not been properly checked by the contractor? Why periodically report the failings of Applied Language Solutions in thick dossiers sent to the MoJ from February 2012 onwards?
Why did we continue to seek dialogue with the MoJ while WE, interpreters, carried out its Due Diligence for it?
Why? Because we did not want people like Martin Jones, Ann Beasley and Peter Handcock ever to be in a position to say: "We did not know about this".
With two ongoing parliamentary inquiries into the failed contract, it is to be hoped that the extent and volume of information that was provided by interpreters and ignored by the MoJ will be revealed.