Testimonial

An account of the abuse of people living on boats on the waterways by the Canal and River Trust, previously British Waterways.   Then a Public Authority, now part Public Body, part Charity.   In receipt of public funds and public donations.  The account is based around the story of me and my boat Pearl, a converted Thomas Clayton tar boat built 1935.  It's not about me it's about them and their deliberate persecution of people, particularly 'vulnerable' people, who live on boats, and those who collude with them for their own selfish interests, and those authorities that allow them to get away with it.     

You don't have to live on a boat to find it alarming.    

FOI requests - unanswered and an SRA complaint.

 

November

'The withholding of information is the oil in the machine of tyranny'

I added a further, related, question to the request to which I have yet to receive an answer.   

From: geoff mayers

7 November 2014    

Dear Canal and River TRUST,

I made a request for an internal review on 29th August. You haven't responded.

While we're waiting I'll ask a more specific question.

Did you use the Part 8 procedure, improperly, in the case of George

Ward as well as not notifying him of the hearing? I.e. did you
proceed with an injunction hearing where the court was informed
wrongly - misled - that no defence was offered while also ensuring
that the defendant would not appear?
Also, why do you think it reasonable that you don't answer my
questions? You may have stolen my boat/home, using every trick in
the book and subsequently caused it to sink, but I am still alive -
and kicking. Maybe no-one else cares but you should still - by law
- respond properly to my requests and supply the information that
you hold.

Yours sincerely,

geoff mayers

 

Nigel Moore left an annotation ( 8 November 2014)

The answer to whether they used the 'Part 8' procedure with the George Ward case is yes. It mentions this in the judgment CaRT published -

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George Ward was taken to court for an injunction to remove his boat without being informed of the court hearing. This hearing was a Part 8 hearing i.e. claimed that there was no dispute of facts and no defence offered.  

Initiating a hearing under this procedure requires the provision of an 'Acknowledgement of Service' form to be submitted to the court within 14 days if there is a defence offered.   Shoosmiths/CRT have not provided this form when serving the papers.       

If no defence is filed the defendant cannot offer one at the hearing and is not allowed to speak at the hearing.  The defendant has been misled and the court has been misled.

In this case the defendant was, also, not informed of the hearing.  

Someone made a complaint about this obvious breach of procedure, and  breach of conduct, to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 

Here is a part of their response:-

      'Shoosmiths are under a duty to follow the instructions given to them by their client (the British Waterways B) and to act in their best interests.  When doing so this will often mean that Shoosmiths act directly contrary to Mr. Ward's best interests.  

Shoosmiths are entitled to pursue an injunction against Mr. Ward on behalf of their client if they consider it in the best interests of their client. To do so would not amount to a breach of the rules of conduct.   Prior to granting the injunction against Mr. Ward, the Courts considered all the circumstances of the case, presumably they knew that Mr. Ward was unaware of the firm's intentions. The Courts had no concerns in this regard and they were happy to grant the injunction.   Therefore there is no suggestion that Shoosmiths misled the Court  (which would be a breach of the rules of conduct).'  

That's all right then.  Solicitors can do whatever they like if it's in the best interests of their client.  There are no 'rules'. A person can be taken to court without being informed, so he doesn't appear at the court and the court doesn't know he has not been informed of the hearing, which is under Part 8 procedure where no defence is offered, so the court assumes the defendant is not offering a defence.  

Is that, or is it not, misleading the defendant, with serious consequences, and, also, misleading the Court? 

According to the Solicitors Code of Conduct published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority:-

You must never deceive or knowingly or recklessly mislead the court or knowingly allow the court to be misled.

You must draw to the court's attention any material procedural irregularity.

  

I don't think that, at the time, it was understood that the hearing, as with many, possibly all, others was under the Part 8 procedure.  There was no mention of it in the SRA reply. That so many cases have been brought with no-one recognising the significance of the use of the Part 8 Procedure indicates how effective the practice is in misleading the defendant.

I have just found some paperwork from my case from when I had a change of counsel and see that for 18 months my case was proceeding as a Part 8 case, which explains further why I was being bullied into offering no defence - which I refused to go along with.  The new barrister applied for the hearing to heard under Part 7 Procedure and there is a 4 page objection to that from Shoosmiths.  So for 18 months, when I had submitted witness statements and other evidence, it appears that no defence was being considered. I was suspicious that my evidence had not been submitted to a hearing, that was 'mysteriously' cancelled (I later found it had been changed to a telephone hearing) and wrote to the Judge, handing the letter into the Court Office.  I received no reply.  A year or so later I asked someone in the court office about the letter and was told it had not gone to the Judge but was given to my solicitor.

Remember that this account is about what they do and how they get away with it.   And can, equally, be applied to other 'authorities'.  You/we don't stand a chance - and you will be driven round the bend.  That's why this story is important - I think so anyway. 

As well as having my boat taken - and sunk - I have not had all my possessions returned to me and have had no reply to my emails about it. As far as I know the woman on the Macclesfield Canal, who was left standing on the towpath - and then disappeared for a while - in November 2013, has had none of her belongings back. Last I heard she had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act having camped outside the Macclesfield police station protesting the seizure of her boat.

CRT have now employed a Welfare Officer. Still harassing and intimidating and threatening people and using legal chicanery to take their boats and make them homeless.  Still refusing to abide by the Equality/Disability Act but they've got a 'Welfare Officer'.   Someone else to stand on the towpath alongside the 'laughing policemen' while another victim who refused to give in to their bullying is made homeless.      

More FOI requests  

Here is another FOI request relating to Part 8 procedure and the process they employ when seizing/stealing a person's boat.     They are empowered in certain circumstances to remove a boat from the waterways.   It is not lawful to seize a person's boat or to remove a person from their boat but when faced with police officers obviously in on the assault and no witnesses the likelihood is that if you refuse to leave the boat you will be removed by force - as I was threatened with - and, probably, then accused of assault and arrested.   

 from: Pam Pickett

1 October 2014

Dear Canal & River Trust,

Please provide the following information. It would be appreciated
if on this occasion this could be specific, please.

How many boat owners were taken to court by the authority between
July 2012 and August 2014?
>
How many boats were removed/seized following court action for
approval of the Section8/13 process?
>
>How many claims (if any) pertaining to boats removed/seized were
filed under Part 8 Civil Procedure Rules?
>
How many claims pertaining to boats removed/seized (if any) were
filed using some more standard procedure?
>
How many of those served with a Part 8 Claim Form subsequently
filed a written defence?
>
How many of those served with a Part 8 Claim Form attended the
court Hearing?
>
>How many (if any) of the boats seized are reclaimed by the owners
on payment of CaRT's charges?
>
How many (if any) of the boats seized have been disposed of by CaRT
following the TORTS Interference with Goods procedure?

Why aren't all judgements as well as Court Orders obtained filed on
CaRT's website?

Yours faithfully,

Pam Pickett

Link to this

 

From: Information Request
Canal & River Trust

6 October 2014

Dear Ms Pickett,

Thank you for your e-mail and request for information we received on Thursday 2nd October 2014.

We are reviewing our files to identify information relevant to your request and will respond to you as soon as possible or in any case within twenty working days of receipt of your request.

Kind regards,

Sarina Young 

 

From: Pam Pickett

31 October 2014

Dear Information Request,
Request for a breakdown of boats removed/seized by CRT
By law the trust should have now responded to my request as
annotated above.
Please now either respond as required, or advise me of any reason
for delay, thereby avoiding the necessity for me to take further
action.

Yours sincerely,

Pam Pickett

Link to this

 

From: Information Request
Canal & River Trust

31 October 2014

Good afternoon Pam,

Thank you for your request for information.  We have responded to some of
your requests and, for others, we first need some clarification before
we’re able to do this for you.  Our replies are set out below in the order
you have asked them for clarity.

It is also worth me explaining at the outset that the Freedom of
Information Act (the Act) entitles you to request information from public
organisations that is already recorded.  In the case of Canal & River
Trust, the Act only applies to the statutory functions transferred to it
from British Waterways through the Transfer Order.  The Act does not
oblige authorities to offer explanations, reasoning or justification
unless it is already recorded.  Nevertheless, in the interests of openness
and transparency and where we have been able, to we have gone beyond our
obligations under the Act and offered you some explanation or information
despite it not being held within already recorded information.

1.     How many boat owners were taken to court by the authority between
July 2012 and  August 2014? 
Our figures show that 57 cases went to court during this period.  However,
please note that the actual number may be fewer as we believe it probable
that status of some cases may not necessarily have been updated within our
records if it was cancelled within a few days of the court date. 

2.     How many  boats  were removed/seized following court action for
approval of the Section 8/13 process?
We publish the details of court cases where boats have been removed or
seized on our website here
[1]https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/publicati...

3.     How many claims (if any) pertaining to  boats removed/seized were
filed under Part 8 Civil Procedure Rules?
We believe that the cost of determining whether we hold the information
and to locate, retrieve and extract this information will far exceed the
appropriate limit provided for under the Freedom of Information and Data
Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.  Where the cost
of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit (£450) we are relieved of our
obligation to comply with the request (s.12(1) Freedom of Information Act
2000). 

4.     How many claims pertaining to boats removed/seized (if any) were
filed using some more standard procedure?
Please would you clarify this part of your request.  If you could be
specific about what you mean when you say “using some more standard
procedure” that would be very helpful as we’re not aware of any other more
standard procedure.

5.     How many of those served with a Part 8 Claim Form subsequently
filed a written defence?
We believe that the cost of determining whether we hold the information
and to locate, retrieve and extract this information will far exceed the
appropriate limit provided for under the Freedom of Information and Data
Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.  Where the cost
of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit (£450) we are relieved of our
obligation to comply with the request (s.12(1) Freedom of Information Act
2000). 

6.     How many of those served with a Part 8 Claim Form attended the
court Hearing?
We believe that the cost of determining whether we hold the information
and to locate, retrieve and extract this information will far exceed the
appropriate limit provided for under the Freedom of Information and Data
Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.  Where the cost
of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit (£450) we are relieved of our
obligation to comply with the request (s.12(1) Freedom of Information Act
2000). 

7.     How many (if any) of the  boats seized are reclaimed by the owners
on payment of CaRT's charges? 
9 boats were returned after they were seized.

8.     How many (if any) of the boats seized have been disposed of by CaRT
following the TORTS Interference with Goods procedure?   
From July 2012 to date eight boats have been disposed of.

9.     Why aren't all judgements as well as Court Orders obtained filed on
CaRT's website?
Most County Court judgments are given ex tempore so we frequently do not
have written judgments to publish.  Additionally, in most cases we would
not wish to publish because we feel it would be insensitive to do so and
unnecessarily intrusive into the personal circumstances of individuals,
given the level of detail in judgments. 

I look forward to hearing from you further on the point four above where
we’ve asked for some clarification.

Kind regards,

Sarina Young
Customer Service Co-Ordinator

 

Nigel Moore left an annotation (16 November 2014)

This is a bit of a joke response I think, so far as 3 & 4 are concerned. The other figures given are useful.

If you can say, respecting Q4: “we are not aware of any other more standard procedure”, then the answer to Q3 must be “ALL of them were filed under Part 8 Civil Procedure Rules of course, because we do not know of any others”.

Why not give the clarification allegedly required, and see what they come up with? You never know, once their solicitors have been educated as to the fact that one can file a claim that acknowledges the possibility of the defendant having a defence, they may be happy to drop the use of Part 8.

Link to this

 
 

From: Pam Pickett

19 November 2014

Dear Information Request,
Prevarication is it seems again the name of the game for the trust.
Cutting to the chase here one should expect the information
requested in paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 to be a matter of record in any
well run office, given the use of computers.
The reference to such exorbitant cost in respect of supplying the
information requested in paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 is therefore not
understood.
Is it that the trust is lax in its record keeping meaning the
information has not been recorded, or that it has some extremely
expensive office staff, or could it be that this information is
expensively outsourced to Shoosmiths computers?
With regard to Paragraph 4.
To clarify. How many boats were seized using any method other than
a Part 8 Procedure?
Additionally, and in line with Paragraph 8 how many of the 8 boats
disposed of following the TORTS Interference With Goods procedure
raised sufficient funds to cover the costs of the trust.

If the interests of openness and transparency are to be served a
reply would be appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Pam Pickett

Link to this

 

geoff mayers left an annotation (21 November 2014)

Again they refuse to answer questions relating to Part 8 procedure. An abuse of process compounded by their refusal to admit to their abuse. In my case a refusal to respond at all or respond to a request for an internal review - which is contempt of court.
With regard to question 4:- How many claims pertaining to boats removed/seized (if any) were filed using some more standard procedure?
Answer:- '.......we are not aware of any other more standard procedure'.
The 'standard procedure' is to allow the victim/defendant to offer a defence rather than mislead them, and the court, by by confusing them with an, improperly issued, Part 8 claim. Without legal representation - legal aid is now not easily available - the defendant would not understand that they had 14 days to file a defence or no defence would be considered. With representation under legal aid, as I had, the defendants representative is likely to go along with the Part 8 procedure and offer no defence. In my case I have discovered that the bullying I was subject to to offer no defence, which I resisted, was because the Part 8 procedure was being followed for 18 months without my being aware of it.
Following a change of barrister a request was made to the court to change from a Part 8 procedure to a Part 7 procedure - the 'more standard procedure'. Shoosmiths, the agent of Canal and River Trust wrote a 4 page submission to the court objecting to the change to Part 7 and my having a defence.
Part 7 is the more standard procedure and and CRT/Shoosmiths don't use it or object to it as they don't want their victim/defendant to have a defence.
Harassment, intimidation, deliberately misleading serving of court papers to prevent a defence being offered, objections to any defence subsequently offered if the defendant gets past the first hearing, refusal to account for their actions.

Question 9. Why aren't all judgments, as well as court orders obtained, filed on CaRT's website?
They say:- ' ....in most cases we would not wish to publish because we feel it would be insensitive to do so and unnecessarily intrusive into the personal circumstances of individuals given the level of details in judgments'.
The intrusion into the personal lives of individuals, and gross violation, has already taken place when they deliberately sought to take that individuals property - in some cases their home - by fraudulent means through their misuse of the legal process.
Their actions are criminal and there needs to be a joint complaint to the police who, otherwise, i.e. if a complaint from a single individual, won't listen.
For further instances of the abuses by CRT and Shoosmiths see website 'Canal and River Tyranny'.

 From: geoff mayers

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At least there was an answer albeit a further obfuscation and refusal to properly answer a simple question. My complaints to BW - as they were then - escalated to court action due to their refusal to answer my questions. Constructive meetings with the area manager then became threats from one the 'moorings' managers, further less helpful meetings led to the Complaints Procedure. The first stage was bypassed - the manager said she couldn't answer my questions. The second stage was responded to by Jim Stirling and was an unhelpful and facetious denial of any problem.  The next stage - the Ombudsman- eventually led to a refusal to answer my questions as they involved issues of law.   I was told I would have to take them to court.   I, obviously, was not in a position to do that - and nor is anyone else. I followed the correct procedure and they refused to cooperate in the resolution of a serious problem. The file of correspondence consists of 100 pages.

The Ombudsman said she had no legal training so couldn't answer my questions (why not refer my complaint to someone who has legal training. BW had their own legal department as well as their agents Shoosmiths.). I suggested I ask a member of the Ombudsman Committee, Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC,  which I did. He replied that he couldn't get involved.

I didn't accept the draft decision and said I would consider what to do next. She replied that she would list my complaint as 'withdrawn'. I said it was not withdrawn but suspended. She listed it as withdrawn. Provocation.  Leading me to say you won't answer my questions unless we go to court.  I can't take you to court you will have to take me to court.  It was then considered by the court that I had provoked the legal action as the details of my complaints and their refusal to answer were not submitted as evidence as I wanted.  My action was a response to their provocation in refusing to respond adequately to my complaint - just as they refuse to respond to my FOI requests - just as they refused to respond reasonably to my negotiations regarding having a mooring, or seeking some other resolution, as the Judge had instructed - just as they refused to respond to my questions about how I could recover my boat - just as they refused to acknowledge that my boat had sunk (until I said I had passed the details to a solicitor).   

Refusal to answer questions relating to their abuses, as is usual in my FOI requests and common to many others, in the knowledge that no-one can do anything about it as they can't take them to court and, in any case, the challenges to their behaviour are not only legal but encompass other elements of abuse and misconduct.                  

I made the following FOI request which has yet to be acknowledged.

 
 
21 November 2014

Dear Canal & River Trust,

In a response to a request by Pam Picket you state that 9 boats,
that had been seized, were returned to owners. Were those boats
allowed to remain on CRT water?

When a boat is seized it remains the property of the owner until a
certain date declared on the Tort notice. If the boat has been
damaged in that time is it not the case that CRT are liable for
that damage?

If the boat has been damaged beyond repair by the actions of CRT or
their agents is it not the case that CRT should compensate the
owner for their loss?

The Tort notice says 'As you have not contacted us in the past 6
weeks (or words to that effect) we claim ownership of your boat on
such and such a date.'

This is a notice applying to abandoned goods or property and is
being misused to claim property not abandoned and where there has
been contact. Can you confirm that you are using the same notice
for property abandoned and property not abandoned?

This is important information which you should provide given the
propensity of CRT to mislead people, and seize their boats, by
misusing the legal process and misleading the victim and the court.

Yours faithfully,

geoff mayers

 I have, as usual, received no acknowledgement of my request and am unlikely to get an answer.

To them it's all a game.  A game they are being allowed to play with no consequences to themselves. 

 

They consider themselves above the law and they are right.  At what level is their abuse of people and the law and the legal process being approved and endorsed?