Sunday, May 07, 2006

Linguistic gymnastics

The Ombudsman will often use what I loosely term ‘linguistic gymnastics’ to overcome their difficulties.

As one example, the Local Government Ombudsmen derive their powers from the 1974 Local Government Act. The act clearly states that the Ombudsmen’s purpose is to investigate complaints from members of the public who claim to have suffered injustice as a result of maladministration.

The Ombudsman also has the statutory discretion to terminate a complaint at any time up to a finding of maladministration. After a finding of maladministration the act states they must issue a report.

However, when the Ombudsman identifies maladministration they deviously use the words ‘administrative fault’ instead of the term maladministration. That allows them to accommodate the council should the council ask for the case to be locally settled. If that happens the Ombudsman accepts a paltry pay off on behalf of the complainant and that is the end of the matter. The Ombudsman states that they found ‘administrative fault’ but the case was locally settled.

Should the council refuse to locally settle the complaint the Ombudsman then call ‘administrative fault by it’s true name, maladministration and issue a formal report.

In essence, the Local Government Ombudsmen have unlawfully extended their statutory powers to include local settlements. They try to hide the fact by using ‘linguistic gymnastics’ to put a thin veneer of apparent lawfulness over their illegal acts.

Please note: Since this post was made the Government has given the Local Government Ombudsman the statutory authority to settle a case. Proof that they couldn't have had the powers when this post was made.

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