IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
BETWEEN DECLAN HEAVEY Claimant - and HIGHGATE JOBCENTRE PLUS Defendant ________________________________________________________ SKELETON ARGUMENT TO THE NOTICE OF RENEWAL OF CLAIM FOR PERMISSION TO APPLY FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW ________________________________________________________
As stated in the claimant's renewal notice dated 4 April 2011, he is seeking to renew his claim for Judicial Review in order to raise an important point of principle or practice, namely that he is being provided with no remedy under the Jobseeker's Act 1995 for discriminatory practice – formally by Action for Employment (A4E) and currently by Reed in Partnership. The claimant requests that the decision to refuse him permission to apply for judicial review be reconsidered at the oral hearing on 22 November 2011 taking into additional consideration the enclosed eletter (and attachments) to his MP, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, dated 1 August 2011, concerning 132 breaches of contract by A4E.
From 26 July 2010 to 1 August 2011 the claimant and his wife were mandated by Highgate Jobcentre Plus to attend the Flexible New Deal (FND) programme delivered by A4E. The claimant immediately faced various attempts by A4E to vary the terms of his “Jobseeker's Agreement”. Numerous breaches of the claimant's “My Deal” agreement followed, including, but not limited to, the raising of sanction doubts on the claimant's joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance because he did not attend unagreed interviews for job vacancies in food and retail outlets and in telesales, notwithstanding that these types of jobs were outside the restrictions notified to A4E by Jobcentre Plus. The claimant's Jobseekers Agreement agreed with Jobcentre Plus clearly stated, and still states, that the types of jobs the claimant is looking for are Youth Work, Support Work and Community Work. (Other agreed restrictions on the claimant's availability or types of work: looking for Project Developer, Campaign Organiser and Events Coordinator, etc in the fields of the stated Job Goals.)
The claimant and his wife were referred to A4E as part of a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) initiative to support customers back into sustained employment. Nonetheless, A4E refused to provide the claimant with a relevant 'work boost', a four week work related activity/work period, otherwise known as a Mandatory Work Related Activity (or MWRA). A4E insisted that the claimant agree to be trained as a warehouse operative if not prepared to accept a 'work boost' in a supermarket. The claimant's wife was not even offered the MWRA,
despite her repeated requests for same, a number of which were written into her “Journey Plan”, a further document referred to in the “My Deal” agreement. 4.
The claimant has made an application to the European Court of Human Rights, dated 19 October 2011, regarding the interception of his communications and directed surveillance. Paragraph 17 states, “The applicant's renewal hearing in Heavey v. Highgate Jobcentre Plus is scheduled for 22 November 2011. The applicant and his wife remain deeply concerned about what lies in wait for them with the next private-sector provider of a welfare-to-work programme.” On 20 October 2011, Highgate Jobcentre Plus issued letters notifying the claimant and his wife that they must take part in the Work Programme delivered by Reed in Partnership. These letters state, “You must complete any activities that Reed in Partnership tells you to do.”
The claimant submits that the Work Programme, just like the FND programme that preceded it, offers no remedy under the Jobseekers Act 1995 for discriminatory practice by private contractors. According to guidelines set out under the Work Programme contract, where a participant of the Work Programme is unhappy with the service they are receiving from a provider, he may raise a complaint with either the provider or the Jobcentre. If the participant is not satisfied with the response to their complaint against the provider, they can escalate the issue to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). The ICE will normally only accept a complaint for investigation if the participant has already received a final response from the provider or waited eight weeks for a response.
Throughout the period the claimant and his wife attended A4E, Highgate Jobcentre Plus ignored numerous complaints he lodged with the Jobcentre concerning an escalating series of harassing and discriminatory acts by A4E, culminating in an Action Plan when the claimant was leaving A4E on 1 August 2011 which is actionable for fraudulent misrepresentation. According to Mathew Jackson, A4E Regional Director, the Jobcentre was in fact fully supportive of A4E’s conduct towards the claimant. In a letter to Minister Featherstone dated 1 June 2011, Mr Jackson notes that A4E “at all times worked closely with Highgate Job Centre Plus,” adding, “They have confirmed our approach and supported our stance with Mr Heavey.”
The claimant further submits that ICE could not have provided a remedy for an escalating series of harassing and discriminatory acts by A4E. No sooner would the claimant make a complaint or have one resolved than he would have another, often more serious, breach of contract to deal with. The 132 breaches of contract alleged by the claimant cover 29 September 2010 through to 1 August 2011, including the falsification of documentation, the unauthorised and prejudicial recording of the claimant’s meetings by a secretary/typist, and the consistent false reporting of his views. Seldom would A4E respond to the claimant’s letters. Moreover, it can take more than 12 months from the date of acceptance of a complaint for ICE to complete their investigations. According to ICE performance figures as at 30 September 2011, 45% of complaints take more than 6 months and 15% of complaints take more than 12 months. A complaint that the claimant lodged with ICE against Highgate Jobcentre Plus in April 2010 took 10 months to investigate, by which time the complaint was no longer relevant.
The claimant and his wife are deeply concerned that Highgate Jobcentre Plus has referred them to an unsuitable provider that will mandate activities to make them more vulnerable to the interception of their communications and directed surveillance (see paragraph 4 above). The claimant’s Reed in Partnership Employment Adviser, Mr Asim Khan, has already passed his complaint about travel expenses to the local Business Manager. Despite that DWP Guidelines for the Work Programme state that participants attending provision are entitled to a refund of
the travel costs they incur, both the claimant and his wife have been refused their travel costs to date. DWP Provider Guidance states: “It is your responsibility to pay the participant’s travel costs as travel expenses are included within the funding received from DWP as part of the overall contract package.” 9.
The claimant submits that the harassment and discrimination he and his wife continue to experience is politically motivated, that it is the product of directed surveillance, and that both the harassment and discrimination are certain to continue. For example, the claimant commenced an ECDL Part 2 IT course at the Working Men’s College on 31 October 2011, having successfully passed the New CLAIT 2006 course in April 2011. As soon as the claimant logged into the online courseware on 3 November, he and his wife lost their home internet access, which they have yet to regain. According to the claimant's tutor, Ms Gillian Burton, it is highly unlikely that he will be able to pass his first of three online exams on 21 November not having had home internet access. The last time the claimant and his wife lost their home internet connection, they did so for six weeks commencing on 4 July 2011.
10. The claimant and his wife were forced to go on state benefits in July 2005 due to the level of opposition they encountered to their establishment of a network of those abused by church, now a non-profit organisation called Network for Church Monitoring (N4CM) at churchandstate.org.uk. In September 2006, the claimant’s joint claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance was terminated by the DWP because he did not 'sign on' on 27 September, two days before he was in fact due to sign, on 29 September pro forma. A simple check of the date of the claimant’s previous declarations would have confirmed that he signed every second Friday, not on a Wednesday, yet subsequent letters from the claimant to his jobcentre and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pointing out the mistake and requesting a review went unanswered, in breach of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996. The claimant and his wife were subsequently forced to live rough on the streets of London for more than 2 1/2 years, where the claimant’s case was dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights. 11. The claimant argues in his application to the European Court of Human Rights concerning the interception of his communications and directed surveillance that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal’s conclusion of 1 September 2011 that his complaint and Human Rights Act claim was “obviously unsustainable” lacked credibility. Within two weeks of the claimant’s dispatch of his claim to the Tribunal on 10 August 2011, Facebook disabled his wife's account; their web host, SiteGround, twice blocked their IP address; their live-in landlady, human rights activist Ms Belinda McKenzie, served them with backdated notice to vacate what has been their home since 13 July 2009; and their local housing authority, Haringey Council, left the claimant with the first of what has now amounted to a fourth £76.92 shortfall in rent to pay. The claimant was particularly aggrieved that the Tribunal dismissed his claim without calling additional evidence, which he had described in his complaint as “wide-ranging”, including third party witnesses. It is noteworthy here that MI5 whistleblower Mr David Shayler lived in the same house as the claimant and his wife for a couple of years, until around 2007. According to the BBC, Mr Shayler “caused the biggest crisis of official secrecy since the spy catcher affair”. Around 2007, Mr Shayler changed his name to Delores Kane, declared himself to be Jesus, and became a squatter. A New Statesman article published in September 2006 featuring Mr Shayler and Ms McKenzie, titled “Meet the No Planners”, gives no indication that Mr Shayler believed he was the Messiah at that time; whilst a Daily Mail interview with Mr Shayler explicitly shows he believed himself to be Jesus by June 2007. He has never regained his normal self.
12. In addition to raising an important point of principle or practice (ie no remedy for discriminatory practice), the claimant also argues public interest. He considers that the manner in which private providers may exercise the powers granted to them under the Jobseekers Act 1995 to be a matter of public importance. It impacts on the public generally who will be anxious to ensure that they as a whole are properly protected by appropriate steps being taken by DWP/Jobcentre Plus. This is not simply a matter that generates interest or concern in the minds of the public but legitimately affects them in terms of their overall trust and confidence in the legal system and the protection which is afforded in the event of misdeeds by private providers of welfare-to-work programmes, especially in these increasingly tough times of Conservative-led government cutbacks. 13. The claimant therefore requests permission to lodge a Judicial Review. He also requests a “transcript” of the judgment at public expense, and leave to appeal if permission to apply for judicial review is refused.
I believe that the facts stated in this skeleton argument are true. Full name: Declan Jude Heavey
Dated: 7 November 2011
Claimant’s Ref No. CO/11759/2010
Tel. No. 0779 284 3167
To the Administrative Court Office, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
Skeleton argument to the notice of renewal of claim for permission to apply for judicial review