Nothing like the model to which the MoJ is so committed can ever work
9 July 2013
Dear Ms Featherstone
Thank you for your reply to my last letter in which I once again expressed serious concerns about the Capita contract for the provision of interpreting services to the MOJ. I am relieved to learn that you appreciate at least some of my concerns.
It does not surprise me that the minister Helen Grant continues to produces figures that seem to back up her claim that the contract is working well and that Capita are delivering a good and economical service. We have all grown accustomed by now to her and the MOJ's intransigence in this matter and their unwillingness to take on board the damning conclusions of three parliamentary select committees and the humiliating denouncement of the contract in the recent debate held at the Westminster Hall. They continue to ignore or dismiss all the evidence of failure and incompetence coming from those working within the court system: lawyers, judges, administrative staff and, not least, victims and defendants - in short, those who obviously know what they are talking about and who, furthermore, remember how much smoother things ran prior to the FWA and how much better the quality of the service provided was.
The minister is clearly under a great deal of pressure to keep this contract rolling, apparently regardless of the cost in terms of justice and the reputation of the legal system in this country. Surely no intelligent person could possibly ignore the mountain of evidence, which increases by the day, of the shoddiness and unworkability of the present arrangements. Indeed, a parliamentary colleague of the minister, Mr John Mann MP, who has personal experience of running a translation agency, assured her in very strong terms during the debate of the 20th June that nothing like the model to which she is so committed can ever possibly work. It was a professional observation as much as a warning and one the minister would be well advised to heed. Sadly though, nothing has been forthcoming from the minister to date that suggests she is prepared to listen to the voices of reason on this matter. By the time she and the MOJ are finally obliged to acknowledge their mistake in, first having implemented this change, and second, having defended it so obstinately, much damage will have been done, many injustices perpetrated and a great deal of tax payers' money wasted. Those members of parliament who have listened to the concerns of their constituents and spoken out against this contract will then be congratulated for their prescience in having warned of the disastrous consequences the contract was bound to have if allowed to continue.
I thank you again for making representations on this matter but am by now rather pessimistic about the prospects of getting anything like an admission of failure from the minister. At the least though she will be aware that as determined as she is to defend a rotten and costly contract there are those of us who are equally determined to expose and publicize its wastefulness and ineffectiveness.
John McCarthy MA, BA (Hons.), DPSI (Law), NRPSI, APCI
From: Lynne Featherstone Sent: Monday, 8 July 2013, 13:59
Subject: RE: capita
Dear Mr McCarthy,
RE: Interpreting services & Capita
Thank you very much for your recent correspondence regarding ALS and Capita. I do appreciate your concerns here – I certainly agree that we must scrutinise the services provided by private contractors such as Capita.
As you may know, Helen Grant told Parliament last week that performance review meetings are held regularly with Capita. As part of this process, the Ministry of Justice takes detailed information from them. I am encouraged that only 0.2% of all bookings completed by Capita between January 2012 and January 2013 received complaints about interpreter quality, and Minister assured the House that work was ongoing to bring further improvements to Capita’s service.
I do, however, appreciate your concerns about the Capita contract more broadly, and I am certainly happy to make further representations on your behalf.
As such, I have now written to Helen Grant, passing on your letter and asking her to address your concerns. Please find attached a copy of my letter for your information.
I shall of course come back to you as soon as I have received her response. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch again if you would like to discuss this matter further or if you think there is anything further I can do as your Parliamentary representative.
Lynne Featherstone MP
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green