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|Updated 29-Jun-2013 12:42|
The Grim Reapers - Stage One Complaint - Case Study
Chester & District Housing Trust Ltd. (the Trust)
The Grim Reapers - Misconduct in Public Office/Perverting the Course of Justice
Sanctuary Housing Association comprising Chester & District Housing Trust
The following paragraphs contain a Précis and Excerpts from a Stage One Complaint so that readers may form their own opinion. The Editor has censored the names and addresses of tenants to hold them harmless by using the pseudonym "Willow" and fictitious flat numbers.
Employees of Chester & District Housing Trust Limited (the Trust), a public sector company (and PH Jones the Trust sub-contractor for gas maintenance and certification) also Ann Edwina Hall (the Landlord), a private landlord receiving taxpayer funded rents, neglected properly to maintain gas appliances and flues as required by law. By that, they knowingly committed criminal acts. They caused serious illness to the Tenant by neglect of their duty of care in violation of Health and Safety regulations, Equality Act 2010 and other laws in pari materia (general laws that interpret with a common purpose).
Research and study by the Tenant (an elderly person with academic credentials and experience in various relevant disciplines) showed a pattern of cause and effect by carbon monoxide emission over a two-year period in both a row house and a flat in Chester. Both properties had certification of inspection; however, those inspections and the resulting certificates did not comply with health and safety requirements. Upon investigation, the Tenant revealed a pattern of deception by the Landlord, the Trust and their engineers when signing off gas certification which allowed them to evade health and safety regulations.
The Tenant has an existing reflux condition caused by physical abuse by a previous landlord whom police arrested and charged (now impending investigation by Independent Police Complaint Commission) which he holds in remission under medical supervision for extended periods. After exposure to carbon monoxide in the row house, the Tenant suffered tinnitus and vertigo (for the first time in his life) from emissions caused by a faulty gas appliance, flues and venting at the house which he held under a rental agreement.
The Tenant almost fell down a steep flight of stairs while having his first attack of vertigo. He then took precautions against another onset by turning of the gas at the meter (which continued to record gas usage with the meter set to “off”). The reflux condition went into remission within a short time of turning off the gas.
A British Gas (BG) official ordered repair of the appliances and personally supervised installation of exterior venting, the Tenant took medical advice and prescription medicine which reduced the tinnitus and overcame the vertigo.
Hall, the row house landlord then entered the premises without the Tenant’s permission and in his absence to sabotage the gas and other appliances. By that, she deliberately increased the carbon monoxide level evidently in revenge for reporting the situation to British Gas. Without heating or hot water for three months (during the coldest winter in recorded history) the Tenant moved to a Trust flat.
Ironically, that flat also had faulty appliances and flues despite certification before taking possession. New tenants occupied #405 the previously empty flat below the Tenant’s flat. Carbon monoxide and other emissions became apparent when they turned on their gas appliances and the Tenant’s reflux/vertigo/tinnitus returned within a few days after twelve months in remission. The Tenant frequently interviewed the tenant at flat #405 and other tenants in the neighborhood during a process of verification and validation of the problems described in the Stage One Complaint to the Trust.
Those interviews revealed that pollution (the undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities) described in the complaint emanated from the kitchen at #405 through a large crack in the ceiling surrounded by carbon monoxide stains. That showed that the carbon monoxide and tobacco fumes (another source of carbon monoxide) had traveled through the floor and wall voids then discharged into the Tenant's living/dining room.
Unbeknown to the Tenant until the present investigation, the tenant at #405 had filed a similar complaint three months before at about the same time as the Tenant. Both elderly people, they received the same type of ridicule and denial by unsubstantiated assertions that no problem existed from Karen Heritage, Performance and Quality Team, CDHT. By that, she violated Health and Safety Executive regulations. In fact, she ignored complaints for six months and the building and gas defects reached criminal proportions. By ignoring both complaints the Trust confirmed its own negligence.
The tenant at #405 asserted that occupants of that flat confined their smoking of tobacco and cooking to the kitchen which confirmed the start of the route followed by the tobacco and cooking fumes. Moreover, a test showed that within a few minutes of #405 turning on the boiler to “heat water only” the living room at #407 became polluted with carbon monoxide and other gases.
During that test (in a consort with the Tenant) the #405 tenant turned on the water heating then immediately visited #407 to witness the gas emission within five minutes of the boiler activation. Interviews with tenants of other properties and tests during the previous three months established a distinct pattern of negligence by the Trust.
Moreover, the polluted condition denied the Tenant use of the living/dining room due to a return of his reflux condition, tinnitus and vertigo caused by carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke entering that room. Considerable damage has occurred to new curtains, carpets, and upholstery to a point where the room and its contents will require professional cleaning or replacement of those items due to third-hand tobacco smoke.
The Tenant turned off the gas at the meter (20 Aug 11) after almost five months spent complaining to the Trust (to no avail); however, carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke from #405 beyond his control continued to enter #407. The Tenant sealed the fireplace, took medical advice, then moved temporarily to another location at 1,000 meters elevation with only electrical appliances. The tinnitus, which by that time had become a chronic disorder, reduced and the reflux and vertigo went into remission after ten days without medication.
The flues, voids and structural beams need inspection by a qualified structural engineer for concrete decomposition. That engineer can then confirm any violations of gas regulations and order changes to insure visible access to flues by installing hatches and also the replacement of defective appliances. Structural damage has allegedly allowed seepage and spillage of carbon monoxide and other emissions through the aging concrete structure and the lack of visible access hatches to inspect that condition violates recent changes to legislation.
An assessment will require the services of an engineer to investigate and report on the amount of structural damage and Trust non-compliance with maintenance regulations. Testing for structural decomposition requires the services of an independent, qualified structural engineer accredited by The Institution of Structural Engineers (FIStructE).
To evade exposure of its neglect, the Trust unlawfully capped the gas supply so that inspection could not take place (10 Nov 11). The Tenant at all times acted in compliance with gas regulations as the responsible person. He has now had no gas heating or hot water (since
Other tenants have either withheld, or threatened to withhold, rent and received immediate (quick and dirty) service. #407 typifies a condition that exists in many of the 1,000 Trust flats and houses that have similar outdated appliances. Arguably, the Trust evades its responsibility to rectify the problem to evade creating a precedent that would cost a considerable amount of money to address.
The Tenant submitted
The Trust has neglected its duty of care to correct alleged dangerous carbon monoxide emissions existing in Trust flats and houses which it has a responsibility to maintain in a safe condition. By that, the Trust violated: Gas Safety Regulations 1998, #2451, Health and Safety; Equality Act 2010; Human Rights Act 1998 and other statutes in pari materia.
Following the filing of the Stage One Complaint, and a disingenuous decision (18 Jul 11) made by Stuart Crosthwaite, Business Assurance Manager, the Tenant gave Wendy Garwood, Satisfaction and Complaints Officer several weeks to establish that a thorough investigation at Stage One had taken place in accordance with the Trust complaints policy. Instead of confirming the Tenant's right to appeal by filing a Stage Two Complaint, Garwood started an unlawful merry-go-round. She made a series of false and misleading claims and withheld documents to hinder filing of an appeal. By that, she committed an abuse of process and delayed and denied justice.
More important, the Trust did nothing to correct carbon monoxide seepage problems and the Tenant temporarily turned off the gas
A Stage Two Complaint became essential in a further attempt to rectify the dangerous health and safety conditions at several flats in the same block. However, Crosthwaite and Garwood again denied process by withholding documents and ordered permanent capping of the gas
Tenant costs in legal and project research to refute the frivolous, vexatious, unsubstantiated assertions used by Trust executive directors and managers to evade their duty of care and legal responsibilities, also the cost of investigating the broadened issues associated with the original complaints, currently amount to more than £211,428.00 (31 Mar 13). That amount does not include compensation for harassment, defamation and reparations for loss of use of a substantial part of the leased flat for nine months and the cost of health and alternative accommodation issues that resulted from denial of quiet enjoyment of the property.
English law grants an injured party entitlement to damages as compensation for any loss suffered. In most circumstances, unless the parties work out a settlement, the court will assess the quantum of damages due. Under common law, the injured parties have an obligation to mitigate (reduce their loss) using any reasonable means at their disposal. The principle ensures that a party will not recover damages for a reasonably avoidable loss. In assessing reasonable means, the party seeking to claim damages does not need to take any extraordinary measures outside the normal course of business or to incur unnecessary additional expenditure.
Mitigation of Damages
The response Paul Douglas Burton (a former Chester City Council solicitor) provided under a Data Protection Act (DPA) request as part of a legal disclosure procedure did not include critical evidence for a scheduled Stage Two complaint hearing held by CDHT in absentia (23 Jan 12). The Tenant (Paul Trummel) understands that Burton attended and Thompson chaired the hearing.
This position paper gives Burton and Sanctuary Housing Association (SHA) an opportunity to cooperate in mitigation of damages prior to the filing of impending complaints with the Legal Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner.
When responding to the DPA request, Burton withheld documents and transcripts of telephone conversations. In particular, he withheld a letter that he wrote to Gary Bennett, Regulation Manager, The TSA (16 Nov 11) and transcripts of telephone conversations that he had with Bennett et alia. The DPA request for documents formed part of prehearing disclosure of documents that Burton previously withheld which prevented the Tenant from refuting the disinformation that they contained. The Tenant later obtained a copy of the letter from TSA under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Following telephone conversations among Bennett, Wadsworth et alia regarding the content of a complaint with TSA filed by the Tenant, Burton provided false and misleading information in writing upon which Bennett acted to the detriment of the Tenant. By that, Burton dissuaded Bennett from contacting the Tenant to discuss the issues subject to his complaints to the Trust and TSA. That deprived the Tenant of his prehearing legal rights by denying an opportunity to challenge disinformation. Burton allegedly used a similar ploy with Health & Safety Executive (HSE) which established a pattern or practice of misconduct in public office.
Details with a prepublication notice sent to Sanctuary Housing Association directors by proxy Lindsay Evans, Group PR Manager
Tenant costs result from legal and project research to refute the frivolous, vexatious, unsubstantiated assertions used by Trust executive directors and managers. Also, neglect to inspect the subject premises that resulted from a conspiracy among public officials generally and Health & Safety Executive also Homes & Communities Agency formerly Tenant Services Authority (TSA), particularly. They abused and defrauded the Tenant through evading their duty of care and legal responsibilities which construes as misconduct in public office.
The cost of investigating the broadened issues associated with the original complaints and web site production currently amounts to more than £211,428.00 (31 Mar 13). That amount does not include compensation for harassment, defamation and reparations for loss of use of a substantial part of the leased flat and the cost of healthy alternative accommodation required as the result of unlawful denial of quiet enjoyment of the property.
The Tenant (an octogenarian) has leased a virtually uninhabitable flat without gas heat or hot water due to the malicious capping of the gas supply for more than two years with winters that had the lowest temperatures on record. Cosmopolitan Housing Group (CHG) comprising Chester & District Housing Trust (CDHT), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Homes & Communities Agency and National Grid Gas (NGG) in an unlawful accord evaded their landlord and regulatory responsibilities in a cover up of illegal gas conditions. The leased premises recently became part of Sanctuary Housing Association (Sanctuary Group) and CHG and CDHT reverted to separate subsidiaries under SHA.
The Trust attempted to silence the Tenant (who holds international press credentials) after he reported dangerous carbon monoxide and other noxious emissions from flats in Trust complexes that arguably place thousands of tenants at health and safety risks. Trust officials repeatedly prevented inspection of premises by independent structural surveyors to evade exposure of multiple violation of gas regulations. They denied repairs, maintenance and tenant services for more than two years and continue to do so.
Initial mitigation requires Burton to send PDF copies of all documents requested under the original DPA request regardless of the hard copies left without an inventory at the Tenant premises. Burton delayed requests for documents over several months by disingenuously claiming absolute exemption from complying with FOIA as a private sector company. He then cherry-picked documents, allegedly in an attempt to bias the hearing by using contextomy.
Burton unlawfully obtained confidential information about the movements of the Tenant from a Trust social worker. From that information, he knew about the absence of the Tenant abroad. He placed the cherry-picked documents in a series of envelopes then a Trust employee pushed them through the Tenant’s letter box several days before the hearing. By that, Burton allegedly delayed legal disclosure until after the Tenant had left on assignment to frustrate any prehearing discourse or instruction of legal counsel.
The response in mitigation should include all information relative to the issues with an inventory; specifically, PDF copies of all correspondence and transcripts of all telephone conversations associated with the Stage Two hearing and Code of Conduct complaint relevant to: Paul Burton; Gary Bennett (TSA); Stuart Crosthwaite; Peter Connell (Connell Consulting Engineers); John Denny; Ian Doyle (National Grid Gas); Wendy Garwood; Karen Heritage; Paul Knight; Hamish Laird; Carl Sands (HSE); Tanya Stewart (HSE); and Simon Wadsworth (TSA).
The disclosure should include, with particularly, the name and title of the Trust executive officer who effectively ordered Hamish Laird and Ian Doyle to arbitrarily cap the gas at the subject premises, 37 Alderney House, CH2 3LX (15 Nov 11). It must include inventoried copies of all work orders and inspection certificates issued by the Trust and National Grid Gas et alia for the preceding three years also transcripts of all telephone calls related to capping the gas supply.
Paul Burton, In-house Solicitor, Chester & District Housing Trust Ltd.
Paul Burton confirmed (09 Dec 11) that natural justice applies; however, he made a series of fatuous observations by stating that “. . . the [complaints] process is, in fact, an informal one designed to deal simply and efficiently with complaints of poor service made by the Trust's tenants. By that he implied that relevant laws do not apply to the complaints procedure. He states:
1. You allege that the Trust has broken a number of civil and criminal laws and you have made a number of threats of legal proceedings in respect of those alleged breaches.
The Tenant has not made threats of legal proceedings pending resolution of the Stage One and Stage Two Complaints procedures.
2. You also continue to complain about the probity of the complaints process itself and appear to attribute to it the formal procedural requirements of a legal process under the jurisdiction of a state appointed judicial body.
The Tenant has not attributed to the complaints procedure formal legal process; instead, he has strictly followed the arbitration (complaints) procedures published by the Trust.
3. The process is, in fact, an informal one designed to deal simply and efficiently with complaints of poor service made by the Trust's tenants.
A reasonable person must ask how a lawyer could possibly construe as “informal” and a “simple complaint of poor service” a dangerous carbon monoxide complaint when Gas Safety Regulations 1998, #2451, Health and Safety; Equality Act 2010; Human Rights Act 1998 and other statutes in pari materia apply to the issues with particularity.
4. The principles of natural justice certainly apply to the process but the Independent Housing Ombudsman (who requires all registered providers to have such a process in place) has never intended that it should be subject to the same rigors as the civil and criminal courts, for the simple reason that any complainant retains their right to pursue complaints through those courts.
This mumbo jumbo clearly tries to evade the issues. Natural justice relies on statutes and precedents to achieve a determination. It has two fundamental principles essential to a fair hearing or valid decision in any complaint brought against the Trust. Moreover, justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done which involves adhering to laws and precedents.
5. The appeals panel has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on matters of civil or criminal law as it is not a court of law and I need to make it clear that your complaint will be deal [sic] with only summarily and without an extended contested hearing.
The Tenant has not asked the Trust “to adjudicate on matters of civil or criminal law”; however, he maintains that laws apply to any determination regarding legal documents and the Tenancy Agreement. Burton claims to deal with complaints: “summarily and without an extended contested hearing”. A reasonable person must ask why six months have elapsed since the Tenant filed a Stage One Complaint. He has neither received a copy of the review by the Performance and Quality team nor a valid response to his submissions relative to the complaint and copies of the documents requested before he can proceed to a Stage Two Complaint hearing.
6. The Trust Complaints and Compensation Procedure describes the two stage complaints process thus: We should aim to resolve complaints through the two stage process within two months. If customer complaints are still not resolved at the end of the procedure, they are advised to contact the Housing Ombudsman Service.
The Trust has stonewalled contact with the Ombudsman by delaying the Stage Two Complaint hearing and providing copies of documents essential to that hearing.
7. Where complaints are rejected, "Customer Satisfaction" and complaints do not sit together easily, so what we want to achieve is a swift, efficient response to the customer. To make sure this happens both stages of the procedure are time bound.
The Tenant reported the serious carbon monoxide emissions nine months ago and filed the Stage one Complaint six months ago which has resulted in a harassment campaign by Trust employees and an uninhabitable flat.
8. In between the two stages there is an opportunity for the Trust to reconsider the issues, through a review by the Performance and Quality team. Again, we need to consider that the customer would like the issues resolved as quickly as possible and by reviewing the complaint at this stage, we might be able to prevent a lengthy stage two hearing.
Six months have elapsed and the Stage One Complaint has not received valid consideration and determination: instead, Knight and Crosthwaite have orchestrated a campaign to sabotage the professional inspection of the property by permanently capping the gas. The elderly Tenant had no heat or hot water during the coldest time in the year.
9. Remember that without sufficient factual evidence, the Panel might be unable to arrive at a robust decision and the stage two hearing could be adjourned. At stage two, help the customer gather as much evidence as possible to ensure a viable appeal process.
The Trust has received comprehensive information both legal and professional to enable it to make a determination; however, it has evaded the issues allegedly due to the cost involved and the 1,000 buildings at risk of similar carbon monoxide emission problems.
10. The customer may refer to the Housing Ombudsman Service if issues are still outstanding at stage 2. If the Customer is not a tenant then it will need to be explained that this stage is the final stage.
The Trust has deliberately prevented the Tenant from contacting the ombudsman by stonewalling (Stalling or delaying especially by refusing to answer questions or cooperate).
In the current complaints, Chester & District Housing Trust Ltd. has not complied by any stretch of imagination with the concepts mandated for natural justice. The disingenuous responses to the Stage One complaint by Crosthwaite and Garwood do not address the complaint. They have not jointly or severally covered the issues asserted in the complaint or referred to the correspondence which substantiates them.
Instead, they have submitted inadmissible, unsubstantiated, self-serving general denials not acceptable in any court of law. By that, they have deliberately frustrated appellate action and obstructed the filing of a Stage Two complaint to appeal the frivolous and vexatious decisions submitted in the Stage One complaint which interprets as multiple abuse of process.
The term "abuse of process" defines as neglect by the Trust to insure due process of law by subverting legal, disciplinary or arbitration proceedings with intent to enforce jurisdiction over tenants generally. The Trust has used unsubstantiated declarations to support evidentiary assertions. Moreover, it has not provided: notice of a hearing; documents substantiating Trust claims; reference to the Trust rules under which they make accusations; minutes of relevant issues; and names and titles of hearing participants and witnesses.
Arguably, Trust executives classify as state actors when they acknowledge complaints. The term "state actor" gives the impression that it includes only officials directly employed by government. However, it also includes public sector officials who deal indirectly with government in the way commonly cultivated by housing trusts. By its non-compliance with its own rules and procedures, the Trust indulged in a pattern or practice of abuse of process.
Human rights conventions seek to achieve a fair balance between conflicting rights of housing trusts and fundamental rights of tenants guaranteed by articles of convention. A doctrine of proportionality remains central to achieving that balance. It requires that any restriction of a convention right (where this is permissible) must be proportionate to the legitimate aim being pursued.
In order to satisfy that requirement, any Trust employee (state actor) interfering with a convention right must show cause that the actions did not classify as arbitrary or unfair; that the actor strictly limited the action to achieve a legitimate public policy; and that the restriction did not outweigh the benefit to the community. Knight, Crosthwaite and Garwood did not comply with those conventions nor have they shown probable cause for a complaint against the Tenant.
Unacceptably broad interference that imposes an excessive or unreasonable burden on tenants breaches convention rights. In cases involving a serious breach, an application to stay the proceedings as abuse of process succeeds in most courts. Trust employees repeated abuse of process falls into that category.
Despite repeated requests for PDF email attachments, Trust officials have refused to send any documents and correspondence by that method. The refusal has allowed the Trust to hold hearings in absentia and evade a discovery process. Tenant receives regular mail intermittently while on assignment abroad and cannot properly address the issues while traveling if he does not receive email copies with attachments.
A Trust employee effectively admitted document withholding by claiming that the Trust sent documents to a PO Box when inaccessible to the Tenant. Then, Trust employees refused to send PDF copies as email attachments to enable Tenant to comply with lawful requests. Moreover, instantaneous delivery of PDFs economizes in both time and materials.
A statement by Paul Knight, Assistant Director of Performance and Income tacitly admits that Trust officials held the Stage One Complaint hearing without providing substantiating documents to Tenant. That precluded his legal right to a discovery process and to take depositions under an oath from his adversaries. The tenant has not received a transcript of that hearing.
Garwood has deliberately withheld documents although repeatedly requested to release them to support Trust assertions. By that, Knight's contentions make the issues moot due to abuse of process; moreover, if Knight, Crosthwaite and Garwood (as state actors) persist with their current behaviour, then they risk criminal indictment for harassing an elderly person under updated (01 Jan 12) statutes.
nota bene - Excerpts
The Trust has still not acknowledged or responded to this refutation or reviewed it as required by Stage One complaint procedures; instead, it has compounded the issues by orchestrating a kangaroo court which contained an unlawful general denial instead of a Stage Two hearing.
The Trust withheld documents and did not conform to Cheshire West & Chester Council constitutional procedures: a requirement when a Councillor convenes and chairs an arbitration hearing involving a public sector housing trust in which he holds a directorship with the complainant as a tenant and his constituent without recusing himself: a fourfold conflict of interest.
The Trust has done nothing to mitigate damage by carrying out repairs and the Tenant remained without heat or hot water throughout the freezing temperatures last winter. The Trust made no attempt to bring the premises into conformity with health and safety regulations; instead, it mounted a kafkaesque retroactive preemption.
John Denny, Paul Knight and Stuart Crosthwaite have, in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the Tenant, refused to provide public information about public sector employees. Crosthwaite refused in writing (05 Dec 11) to provide job titles and job descriptions of specific staff members and supervisors although the Trust previously published a chart containing the names and job titles of Trust officials. By that, they enabled several officials and staff members to use aliases and false or misleading job descriptions and proxies in a conspiracy to defraud in violation of the Fraud Act 2006. Section 2 includes fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information and fraud by abuse of position.
The Tenant requested information about Trust officials, staff members and direct supervisors to complete validation and verification of content which alleged criminal acts in order to hold other officials and staff members harmless. Trust officials prevented that process. To partly overcome the withholding of public information, the author has listed the people named in the articles and their false or misleading titles. The names of supervisors of the staff members who allegedly committed criminal acts remain unknown; however, they will become jointly and severally liable for the acts of their subordinates.
You requested copies of all personal information relating to yourself held by the Trust on paper or computer files and the names of all people to whom the Trust has released copies of documents or personal information contained in those documents. I confirm that the Trust can treat this as a data subject access request under section 7 of the Act but I do require you to send me a cheque for £10 (being the statutory access fee) before I can comply with your request. This is a legal requirement and is applied by the Trust to all such requests.
I have already indicated the Trust acts through its employees and their actions are, in law, treated as actions of the Trust through agency and vicarious liability which makes the Trust liable for their acts or omissions. In some instances you have now threatened to take action against certain Trust employees and I would respectfully ask that if you wish to make threats of legal action would you please express these to be made against the Trust and not against individual members of staff.
In response to that request, I stated a need for CDHT Transaction #, Sort Code, Bank Name and Account Number before I could send the £10.00 fee for the DPA documents. I also asked that CDHT replies to correspondence should contain the subject line and reference and that in future, all CDHT correspondence without subject references will be rejected by the CCF server. I then used Sort Code 309192/Account Number 02536116 to transfer the £10.00 fee for the DPA documents.
Your letter PB-11-1110-0000 taken under advisement does not follow the Stage Two Complaint protocol; therefore, the content classifies as out of context. The response should have formed an integral part of the CDHT #4536 Stage Two Complaint pre-hearing package with an argument that applied to the complaint with particularity.
The Council Constitution requires placement of an agenda and evidentiary documents on the record with a copy sent to the Tenant at least five clear days before any hearing. Moreover, the Trust did not inform the Tenant of the date, time and location of the hearing or send him an agenda and the names of participants within that time frame: a distinct abuse of process.
Deadline for response including all documents and transcripts: 12:00 - Friday 26 April 2013.
PDF copies of linked reference files can be downloaded from the web pages.