We do not really do breaking news here, but rumour reaches me that we may hear more today about Ofsted’s disclosure failures in Sharon Shoesmith’s application for judicial review of the decision to dismiss her. Even as I write, apparently, journalists are ripping open packages with papers which may help us with all those unanswered questions.
My original article on it was called The Baby P case may be the disclosure story of the year, and you may care to refresh your memory about that whilst we wait to see what emerges.
Is this just routine incompetence of the kind we expect from our bloated public services (48% of GDP went on them last year)? Is it just ignorance of and disdain for the formal obligations of candour which the rules require and which apply particularly to disclosure? Perhaps it is that curious perception that electronic documents just don’t count somehow – we don’t understand them, so let’s just pretend they don’t exist or somehow fall outside the definition of a “document” in Rule 31.4 CPR – “anything in which information of any description is recorded” seems pretty clear to me, but I am not a civil servant. Were documents really “stuck in the photocopier”, or did someone use the shredder instead? Did they really print all the emails off and photocopy them?
And, even more interestingly, was there really an instruction to destroy documents which might have pointed to an earlier draft Ofsted report whose terms were not what Ed Balls, the ghastly and overbearing Children’s Minister, wanted? And if so, whence did those instructions come?
Bang on cue, here comes a Google alert to tell me that the papers have reached the media. Off to do some reading – more later.