Local Government Ombudsman

Deputy Prime Minister written question – answered on 17th January 2005.

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Photo of Mr Bill O'Brien Mr Bill O'Brien Labour, Normanton

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many cases where the local government ombudsman decision has been challenged on maladministration have been referred to the courts in each of the last 10 years.

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford Minister of State (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (Local and Regional Government)

Information on cases for years prior to 2001 has not been retained by the ombudsman, and hence could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Numbers of cases which have been referred for judicial review, and their outcome, for each complete financial year since 2001 are tabled as follows:

2001–02 2002–03 2003–04
Number of cases referred 11 7 7
Number of cases where ombudsman's

decision was upheld

11 7 7

Does this answer the above question?

Yes3 people think so

No15 people think not

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Gary Powell
Posted on 11 Apr 2005 5:56 am (Report this annotation)

Why has the Local Government Ombudsman apparently not retained simple data on the number of his decisions that were taken to judicial review over the last ten years? Presumably the pre-2001 prospects of winning at judicial review against the Ombudsman were similar to the statistics displayed: very poor indeed. Judges are extremely reluctant to find against the Ombudsman. This is a shame, as the Ombudsman's own commissioned 1999 MORI survey contained some very embarrassing results for his organisation that he unfortunately somehow forgot to include in his subsequent Press Release, including the fact that 73 percent of the complainants polled were dissatisfied with the outcome of the service received, including half of those complainants where the Ombudman had found maladministration. Perhaps this is not surprising given that practically all those in the most senior positions in his office previously held senior office in local government, including two of the three current Ombudsmen for England (2005) who were both council CEOs and hence were certainly subjected to regular Ombudsman investigations themselves. It gets worse: the last time a Local Government Ombudsman was appointed, one member of the three-person panel was a representative of the Local Government Association. Since when have the accused been able to appoint their own judges? One result of this set-up is that, in 2003/4, the Ombudsman reported maladministration in only 1.6% of the cases he investigated, and this after using his discretion not to even investigate thousands of the complaints sent to him. How many ordinary citizens can afford the heavy costs associated with taking their case to judicial review: especially with the cards stacked against them to the extent Nick Raynsford's answer indicates? The problem with the Local Government Ombudsman service is that it is not accountable, and not impartial, which is one of the reasons why the recent ODPM Select Committee report on the Ombudsman contains such damning evidence against this institution. Those interested in this issue might like to visit the LGOWatch campaign site at www.ombudsmanwatch.org.

Julian Todd
Posted on 11 Apr 2005 2:01 pm (Report this annotation)

This kind of question then requires a "pursuant to my previous question", to ask whether this information has been shredded.



Trevor Nunn
Posted on 21 Oct 2005 11:41 pm (Report this annotation)

Never mind a judicial review, the House of Lords has recommended that a full appeal mechanism is available for Ombudsmen's decisions. Why do the Government not implement that recommendation?

LGO Reporter
Posted on 2 Jan 2008 2:52 pm (Report this annotation)

A complainant cannot challenge the decision of the Local Government Ombudsman. A complainant may seek a Judicial Review of the LGO's decision in the High Court, but the High Court cannot overturn the LGO's decision. The High Court can only require the Local Government Ombudsman to reconsider their decision, but the LGO is not obliged to change its initial decision. This ruse, and the cost of High Court action, is used by the LGO to conceal Council maladministration and injustice. The result is underreporting of cases of maladministration, and an injustice to the complainant.

See http://local-government-ombudsman-lgo.blogspot.com/