Disclosure of Information

This page shows Ms Leverne Parker,LLB(Hons),  RBKC Chief Solicitor of Grenfell fame and their Monitoring Officer’s  abject indifference to legislation of this land relating to  handling of NOT ONLY F’s  CONFIDENTIAL personal information, but  also details about his HIV+status.  

When she offered her  comment in defence of the disclosure, she was not aware that paragraph 29 of the Local Government Act 1972, which she quoted, concerned completely different matter.     The 1974 version of the Act is the correct legislation.

Her myopic intellect, caused her to be single handedly responsible for the disclosure of F’s HIV+ status and related clinical information without his consent and NO legal requirement to do so, as stated by the HCPC

It was Ms Parker, who handled the whole matter.  She received the LGO’s ‘Request’ for F’s information and who signed the cover letter for the documents sent to the LGO.

Had she strictly complied with not only the LGO’s ‘Request’, content of which had been agreed in PRIVATE between the LGO and RBKC,  but also the Department of Health’s “Data Protection Act 1998 – Guidance to Social Services“, specifically paragraph 6.22, and provided  what was requested, this Blog would most probably not exist. 

Had she referred, as she should have done,  to F’s Confidentiality Table and his May 2010 Amendment of his Information Sharing Agreement, she would have realised what was the true position. 

She should have realised that the Amendment was in fact also  a Notice, in line with paragraph 10 the DPA.

In her customary demeanor, she chose to ignore both of these provisions.

Although the requested assessment documents are deemed  to be ‘Confidential’,  the  innocuous ASAQ does NOT disclose any of F’s medical conditions.  Even the resulting FACE report allegedly generated from the ASAQ,  leaves the space provided for medical conditions, EMPTY

This confirms that F’ medical conditions, specifically his HIV+ status, were IRRELEVANT to the assessment. 

Therefore, F does not understand why was he NOT asked for his consent, as required by his May 2010 Amendment to his Information Sharing Agreement?  There would not have been any reasons why he should decline to give his consent, if provided with details of the information, requested by the LGO.  This would be, complying strictly with the LGO’s Request and DH  Guidance,  19 pages of the ASAQ and perhaps the 2 pages of the FACE Report. RBKC were in NO way compelled to provide any additional information, as these two documents would satisfy the ‘minimum’ requirement of the DH Guidance.  

However, for unknown reason, copies of F’s  unverified and unsigned Care Plan Reviews, dating back to 2000, were included, together with other irrelevant documents.  The  LGO confirmed that he would NOT have asked for the Reports, as they would serve no purpose in his ‘investigation’.  There were in all 149 documents in the bundle.

By including the Care Plan Reviews, the matter became  more complicated.  Some of the Reports contain not only reference to F’s HIV+ status, but also details of his treatment,  progress of the condition, the life saving medication he must take and the the inevitable side effects he suffers as a consequence.

This specific information is not only highly CONFIDENTIAL, but its disclosure is protected by the NHS Statutory Restrictions on data handling.  It can only be disclosed in accordance with these Restrictions.

Had RBKC complied with F’s Amendment to his Information Sharing Agreement,  and  DPA’s paragraph 10, this specific information would have been REMOVED in May 2010.  This would have rendered the documents benign and no longer subject to any restrictions.

However, as this was NOT the case, the restrictions still applied.

Had F been given copies of these NEVER SEEN BEFORE, UNVERIFiED AND UNSIGNED REPORTS. as part of RBKC request for his consent,  he would have realised that:  a)- he had NEVER SEEN these REPORTS;  b)- they were ALL UNVERIFIED AND UNSIGNED;  c)- CONTAINED his medical information, which he would have never  agreed to be included in a Report, which  is about provision of a domestic cleaner. and  d)-despite his May 2010 Amendment, the specific information was still on these Reports confirming that RBKC had done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to remove  it.

If progression of F’s HIV condition, is so important to RBKC, why has he NOT been seen since October 2010,  by anyone from the Social Services, querying his condition?  After all, he is still ‘IN THE CARE OF RBKC’, as stated on his FACE Report.

Although Ms Stella Baillie,  RBKC’s Caldicott Guardian is also guilty of NOT ensuring that employees follow all the relevant legislation, it is entirely Ms Parker’s fault – as she was THE LAST person to review the  documents.

What happened  regarding disclosure of F’s HIV+ status?

In May 2010,  F found it necessary to issue an amendment to his Information Sharing Agreement, to ensure that RBKC  handles any requests for his information, in accordance with his wishes, discussed on the Handling of information page.

As a part of his investigation of F’s complaint to the LGO, about RBKC’s  non-compliance with Department of Health Guidelines,  on 24th August 2011, the  LGO sent RBKC a Request letter, which asked for  : “all the assessment documentation for this matter…. along with any general comments the Council wishes to make.”  This was merely a REQUEST,  which has no legal gravitas.  It is all the LGO can issue,  as he has no statutory powers to issue anything else. 

On receipt of the LGO’s Request,  before proceeding any further, Ms Parker should have read F’s Confidentiality Table, which reflects  F’s May 2010 Amendment to his Information Sharing Agreement.  It clearly stipulates that F’s explicit written CONSENT is required when a disclosure of his information was contemplated, giving him details of the information, RBKC intended to disclose.

It is not clear why this did not happen.

Had this happened, F would have received the NEVER SEEN BEFORE,   the incorrect, incomplete, wrongly dated, unverified and unsigned by him,  ‘Assisted Self Assessment Questionnaire, ASAQ, allegedly used during F’s assessment, which was most probably intentionally,  NOT sent by Mr Williams to F with the  ‘Decision letter‘ on 13th December 2010, as addressed on the Assessment page

Had F received  a copy of the document, he would have immediately realised that it was nothing but a clumsy FORGERY.  This would have seriously upset Ms Baillie’s agenda, which was dreamt up and the ASAQ completed by whomever, wherever and whenever,  to arrive at the predetermined result, removing RBKC’s  contribution towards the cost of F’s domestic cleaner.   RBKC ensured throughout the process that the ASAQ was NEVER mentioned by it proper name, or indeed acknowledge its existence.  It would be nothing but a conjecture to assume what F would have done next.  Therefore, the following is a mere conjecture, as he may have rejected outright the ASAQ, resulting  in  unforeseen events.

He may have also received the  incomplete, unverified and unsigned FACE Report, which was generated from the ASAQ.

F would have had no problem with giving his CONSENT, as these documents DO NOT CONTAIN ANY OF HIS MEDICAL INFORMATION.  Rightfully so, as the legislation governing assessments, does not require any medical information for a local authority to conduct an assessment.  It  is enough  for it to be merely ‘apparent’ to the local authority that an individual may be in need of help, for an assessment to be made.

It would be naive to assume that Ms Parker was NOT  aware of the newly published ICO’s ‘Data Sharing Code of Practice‘, which is a statutory code.  This code clarifies many aspects of data sharing.  It clearly states that the information holder has to ensure that he is legally permitted to disclose the information, and if necessary, in accordance with relevant court order.  Therefore, it matters NOT who asked for the information, if this is not satisfied.

Instead, Ms Parker completely ignored the fundamental requirement of CONSENT.  For unknown reason, her office issued on 24th August 2011, a Request for Comments to a number of RBKC employees, none of whom have any legal trainingStrangely,   Mr Leak, F’s  Social Worker, in whose custody was F’s confidential file,  was NOT asked for his ‘comments’.  

Ms Parker’s request was a rather strange event. Why should  Ms Parker, RBKC’s Chief Solicitor and indeed their ‘Monitoring Officer’,  seek comments from those without any legal knowledge.  Indeed,  it should have been Ms Parker, who should have taken the initiative and deal with the Request.  In fact, she could have refused to provide the requested information on the grounds of ‘Confidentiality‘, as addressed on the LGO page.

 There was no need to ask for any ‘comments‘, as  the following provide clear guidance  relating to information handling:

Section 4 – Data Sharing and the Law of ICO’s ‘Data Sharing Code of Practice‘,  states that note must be taken of any legislation which may govern disclosure of information, including ‘Statutory Restrictions‘ and any ‘Confidentiality’ issues,  which may be OUTSIDE of the DPA’s remit, therefore requiring special handling..

For specific guidance in relating to Social Work matters, the Department of Health ‘Data Protection Act 1998 – Guidance to Social Services‘,  section 6 provides detailed guidance on how to handle service users’ personal information.  

NONE  OF THOSE ASKED COULD BE BOTHERED TO REPLY to Ms Parker’s request.  Much later, on 12th January 2017, Ms Hussain and Baillie were asked why they chose not to reply.  Ms Hussein replied; whereas  Ms Baillie again chose to ignore this request.  At least F learned who had collated the 146 documents. 

An unexplained event occurred between the  24th August 2011 and 15th September 2011, when the documents were sent to the LGO.  Nameless, faceless  person  culled  146  confidential documents from F’s file.   This reckless, irresponsible  cull was without purpose, reason, guidance, legal requirement to do so, or permission to access the file.  Those involved in the cull  could have done so,  as there is no meaningful independent oversight or audit of RBKC activities.  They have done so with impunity, not afraid of any retribution.

Unknown to F,  a cover letter was signed on  15th September 2011, by Ms Parker and the documents were sent to on their merry way to the LGO. 

Now, comes the most important question of this whole Blog: Who authorised access to F’s CONFIDENTIAL file and the indiscriminate cull of 146 documents?  NOBODY.  Due to the non-existent access protocol,  NO AUTHORISATION WAS NECESSARY.  F’s most CONFIDENTIAL medical information could have been accessed by Tom, Dick, Harry or an itinerant bottle washer and remove whatever information they felt fit.

However, a question remains: What was the authority for Mr Leak to grant access to F’s information?

On 23rd July 2013, HCPC told F that  ” it may well be the case that the process and procedures  for both handling and sharing of information at RBKC is flawed..”

This statement confirms HCPC’s confusion in respect of  what are Social Worker’s legal obligations to F and is  addressed on the HCPC page.

Social Workers are expected to adhere to BASW‘s  “Code of Ethics and HCPC‘s  “Guidance on Confidentiality“.  Both set out the conditions under which individual’s personal information may be shared.  Both require the individual’s CONSENT, bearing in mind that all information in F’s file is deemed to be CONFIDENTIAL and must be treated as such.

F would have never learnt about the submission of documents by RBKC,   if the the LGO had not told him on 8th December 2011, that he had received  Care Review Reports dating back to 2000.  On 12th December 2011, the LGO confirmed to F that ‘he did not ask for these reports, as they would not be necessary  for his investigation.’

Concerned about the disclosure without consent  or knowledge  of his information, which may have included details of his HIV condition,  on 4th January 2012,   F asked RBKC for justification of the disclosure of his information. 

Ms Nadja Husain told him on 5th January 2012 that his information was provided to the LGO, because he made a complaint. Therefore,  his consent was NOT required. Mentioning that the LGO has the Powers equal to those of the High Court and can access any information about a particular case.

 Ms Claire Walker on 13th January 2012,  just echoed the above.

Ms Leverne Parker on 22nd February 2012  reconfirmed that  paragraph 29 of the Local Government Act 1972, permitted disclosure of F’s information.  This is incorrect.  It is the 1974 version of this Act that deals with the matter quoted by Ms Parker.

The  response by those listed above confirms Law Commission’s  ‘Data Sharing Between Public Bodies – Scoping Report’,  statement  that  there is a very poor understanding of data protection legislation at local authority levels.

 RBKC’s  statement that the LGO has the powers of the High Court, is open to interpretation, as discussed  on this page.  

F became concerned that his personal information,  perhaps even including his HIV related information may have been disclosed to the LGO, without his CONSENT.

On  5th January 2012, F wrote to the Information Commissioner, ICO, seeking advice on the disclosure without his consent.

In his ‘assessment‘ dated  23rd January 2012,  the ICO sided with RBKC, without even trying to ascertain WHAT KIND OF INFORMATION was actually disclosed to the LGO

It must be remembered that at the time of his request to the ICO,  F was NOT aware of what of his personal information was disclosed to the LGO.  He merely wanted to know his legal position, as discussed on this page.

On 11th May 2013, F asked the ICO, whether his ‘assessment’ would have been the same, had he been  aware. that CONFIDENTIAL MEDICAL information was disclosed in the documents sent to the LGO.  The ICO chose NOT TO REPLY.

Interestingly, when the ICO was asked afresh about this after the Soho Clinic disclosure, in his reply dated 6th January 2016he reneged on his original assessment and confirmed that should information be subject to Statutory Restrictions,  any considerations of  a breach would be OUTSIDE of the ICO’s remit and should be reported to the NHS.

F was horrified when on 11th February 2012 he received the requested copies of documents sent by RBKC to the LGO.  Closer look disclosed that the large bundle contained 149 confidential documents, culled from F file.

He discovered for the FIRST  TIME EVER,  16 MONTHS since his assessment, the  incomplete, incorrectly dated, unverified and unsigned  document, the ASAQ, allegedly used in F’s assessment in October 2010. .

As told by the LGO, the bundle contained  many unsigned by F Care Plan Reviews dating back to 2000.  There were also  17 copies  relating to F’s former domestic help’s income tax rebate information, which had absolutely nothing to do with any assessments.  It was a private matter between F and the HMRC.  F merely sought guidance in how to treat the bonus, as it was credited to  his Direct Payments Account.  

 F became  very concerned about Mr Leak’s, his Social Worker’s role in the  disclosure of  his information.

After he obtained  Guidance on Confidentiality from HCPC,  on  19th February 2013,  he lodged a complaint against Mr Leak with HCPC, his Regulators, which is addressed on the HCPC page.

On 25th July 2013, HCPC told F  that  they were told by RBKC that  the legal team have access to all documentation  and  that if a formal request was made by the team, Mr Leak was not in a position to obstruct the team from obtaining  information from F file.

However, when asked for a copy of the ‘formal request‘, RBKC was unable to provide a copy of this important document. 

It can be alleged that the existence of this ‘formal request’ was dreamt up by Ms Parker, simply to obfuscate the matter and hopefully provide an excuse for the cull of documents. 

By inventing this non-existent document, proper investigation of the  matter was  perverted.  We were all mislead to believe that am important document, which ensured  a free access to F’s HIV related information existed, whereas in reality it did not.

At this time an interesting question exists.  Were RBKC aware that the documents  sent to the LGO contained  F’s HIV relevant information?

F assumed that RBKC were not aware of the full extent  of the complexity of the matter, involving F’s  HIV related information.  F  thought that this information was included by mistake.  Easily assumed, as  it could be safely assumed that RBKC staff were not fully aware of the existing legislation.  Although not an excuse, F thought it unfortunate.

However, the matter took on completely different angle, when F received a reply from Ms Caroline Maclean on 14th January 2013,  addressed on  this page.

When F realised that Mr Leak, his Social Worker failed to safeguard F’s information, he informed Mr Leak on 11th January 2013, that he will be contacting the British Association of Social Workers, BASW, about this failure.  F was told that the HCPC were the new regulators.

At the same time F told Mr Leak that the Disability Law Advice Service, in respect of the unverified and unsigned  ‘Assisted Self Assessment Questionnaire’, ASAQ.

On 19th October 2012,  F submitted through his MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, QC,  a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, the PHSO.

HCPC in their reply to F dated 23rd July 2013  state that “The Process and procedures for both handling and sharing information at RBKC is flawed.”   This may also explain why Mr Leak was NOT involved in the process of provision of F’s information to the LGO.  

On 4th November 2012, F asked the LGO to let him have a ‘list of the documents‘ RBKC sent to him. This would have been the whole, or abridged list of all the documents, as required not only by the Caldicott Principles, but also paragraph 6.22 of the Department of Heath guidelines.

The LGO replied on the same day, telling F that he had NOT received a list of the documents.

On 5th January 2013, F asked the LGO for copies of all the documents received by him from the RBKC, so that he could reconcile what was sent by RBKC and received by the LGO. 

On 25th November 2014, Ms Parker came up with a suggestion of how to ‘move forward to resolve the problem over the disclosure of F’s HIV status.  This absurd event is addressed on the Deletion  page.

September 2015, F wrote to Ms Baillie, about the Care Plan Reviews, stating  surprise  that his HIV information was recorded on these unverified and unsigned Reports.   Ms  Baillie replied on 6th October 2015, showing that she could /would not  respond  to any of the points raised by F.

 As recently as  23rd June 2018, F asked the ICO as to the role of the Local Government Act 1974 and the Data Protection Act 1998 in the disclosure of information.  The ICO replied on 30th July 2018,  He endorsed what F and others have thought – RBKC   should have heeded the  provisions of the Data Sharing Code of Practice,  which is a ‘statutory code’ when considering the disclosure of F’s  HIV relevant information.

CONCLUSION:  RBKC’s action described above, endorses Law Commission’s findings that ‘understanding of data handling legislation at local authority level is poor’.

However, this is NOT an excuse,  or justification for the unauthorised disclosure of F’s HIV+ information.

You are welcome to comment on the above.

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