Sunday, December 28, 2014

Heavey v Single Homeless Project: Will the Central London County Court rule we consented to declarations for online referral that we are paying our own salaries and that we are both mentally ill, and despite our photographic evidence to the contrary?

Declan and I are clients of the Mayor of London's Greater London Authority Housing First programme. Last May we were housed by the Single Homeless Project (SHP), one of three charitable organisations that operate the Housing First service. At the time we wondered why we were put in an accommodation under the tutelage of the Mayor of London when we had been evicted from our previous flat and forced to sleep on the streets of London for over a year, where we were harassed and threatened by the police (see blog of 2 October, "City of London Police: If you want to challenge our word against yours again, you need to make an application to the High Court for permission to apply for judicial review").

It has transpired that SHP Housing First has circulated among any number of agencies via online referral that we are paying our own salaries as employees of Network for Church Monitoring (N4CM) and that we are both mentally ill. We are currently waiting for a ruling from the Central London County Court on this matter (see blog of 22 November, "Declan's response to the Single Homeless Project CEO's submission to the Central London County Court [DATA PROTECTION]"), the High Court having already ruled that the Mayor of London bears no responsibility for the Housing First programme he funds (see blog of 5 November, "High Court rules that the Mayor of London bears no responsibility for his Greater London Authority (GLA) Housing First Programme").

In the UK, data-protection law is often cited in the media as a powerful piece of legislation and organisations can't just write whatever they want:

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Nonetheless, all the Information Commissioner could do for us was instruct SHP to disclose the information they hold about us on their computerised database. This is a screenshot of section 4 of the paper version of a referral form we completed with a SHP Housing First worker last March, co-signed by the worker himself:

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It is quite clear from the above that we have incurred a personal debt of £6,000, but not according to SHP. They split the paper version of the form into two online forms, one for Declan and one for myself, and make out in both forms that we are paying our own salaries; they even made up their own scam to deliver this make-believe story, but more about that in the next paragraph. Under "Rent Arrears and Debt" that is in a different format than specified by the paper version of the form, not only do they not register a personal debt for either of us (£0.00), but on Declan's online form they add: "Mr Heavey has an American benefactor who has financed his website in a salaried manner. This totals £6000." On my online form, it reads: "Mrs Heavey and her partner have a debt of £6000 to an American benefactor who is paying them a salary over the course of this year. They wish to return this money." This is our photographic evidence:

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As if this was not sufficient, they then made up the scam that our salaries are to facilitate our application for accommodation and that we could still qualify for benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If we were not paying our own salaries as part of this scam, we could not possibly qualify for benefits from the DWP because our salaries exceed the amount permitted for either of us to claim Jobseeker's Allowance. Contrary to SHP's made-believe story below, we are not claiming benefits from the DWP because we are not paying our own salaries and are therefore not entitled to claim any benefits from the DWP. Our Housing Benefit claim is paid by Newham Council, not DWP. This is our photographic evidence of a scam made up by SHP but never perpetrated by us:

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And here's more made-up information that could only apply if I was paying my own salary:

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Not only do we both have jobs but Declan has tried every possible means to communicate to SHP that we are not paying our own salaries. Our debt of £6,000 comes from a loan of £3,028.14 that was wired to us from America in October 2012 and a second loan of £3,140.15 that was wired to us in August 2013 (both loans are verifiable by bank statements, tax declarations and emails), and neither loan has anything to do with the £5,935.68 that was lodged to an account for N4CM in February 2014 in order to support our salaries for one year. Even this email from N4CM Chairman Dr Stephen Mumford to SHP splitting the two sums of money - £6,000 and £5,935.68 - has fallen on deaf ears:

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Perhaps the ulterior motive for these breaches of the Data Protection Act lies in Dr Mumford's strong rebuttal of the personal opinion of a SHP Housing First manager who had not even met us when she declared that we are both mentally ill, an unqualified and biased opinion they also steadfastly refuse to remove from our personal data on their computerised database:

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We claim that of the eight principles of good information handling cited in the Data Protection exhibit above, SHP have broken no less than five principles. Our data was not (1) fairly and lawfully processed; (2) processed for limited purposes; (3) adequate, relevant and not excessive; (4) accurate; and (5) processed in line with data subject's rights. Will the Central London County Court rule we consented to declarations for online referral that we are paying our own salaries and that we are both mentally ill, when we most certainly did neither? And why would SHP put us through the courts after over a year of street homelessness when they could rectify all this data in a matter of minutes?

Heavey v Single Homeless Project
Brief details of claim

On 19 March 2014, the Claimant made a formal Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 1998 for any information held about him on the Defendant’s computerised database. This information was only submitted by the Defendant to the Claimant on 5 August 2014, following instruction from the Information Commissioner's Office. The Claimant then discovered that personal data contained in a printed referral form dated 17 March 2014 had been inaccurately entered online by the Defendant and submitted to the Clearing House for accommodation purposes. On 15 August 2014, the Claimant and his employer both wrote to the Defendant about inaccurate financial data that leaves the Claimant open to accusations of deception and fraud, but neither has been able to elicit a response from the Defendant on the matter. The Claimant is therefore making an application to the Court for a declaration that the Defendant has acted unlawfully and an order that the data controller rectify those financial data and any other personal data in respect of which he is the data controller and which contain an expression of opinion which appears to the Court to be based on the inaccurate financial data. He also seeks an award of damages and punitive damages for breach of data protection obligations.

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Update (8 May 2015): Declan is vindicated in court and wins £750 in damages from the Single Homeless Project