Exclusive – “Ongoing Investigations” in UCL Procurement Partners Case

You may remember a few months back the news about a senior member of staff (unnamed) being dismissed from UCL Procurement Partners (UCLPP). That is a shared services operation that handles procurement for 5 London Hospital Trusts - Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Moorfields Eye Hospital, North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Whittington Hospital NHS Trust.

We explained here that Alan Farnsworth, who was the Head of Procurement for the venture, had certainly gone from the UCLPP website, as had external consultant Lucy Hutchins who had also been previously listed as working in the organisation. Both of those individuals were also directors of a firm called Procurement Benefits Ltd, which was closed down in 2015.  We asked Whittington, which hosts the operation, for further information, but they were not prepared to say anything. So we asked the following Freedom of Information questions.

  • Please provide me with the minutes of any internal meetings where the case was discussed.
  • How much money was paid by UCL Partners Procurement Service or Whittington Hospital NHS Trust to Procurement Benefits Limited (PBL) in each of the financial years 2013/14, 14/15 and 15/16?
  • What services were provided by PBL with respect to any payments? How much of the money paid has been recovered if appropriate services were not actually provided?
  • How much was paid relating to the services of Lucy Hutchins (or Twinn) who worked as a consultant for UCL PPL (and was a director of PBL) – either to her directly or to a firm in relation to her services for each of the three years 2013/14, 14/15, and 15/16?
  • Has any disciplinary action been taken against any other director of PBL who is still employed by UCL Procurement Partners?

This is the response we received last week.

"We have carefully considered for disclosure all the information we hold which relates to this case and we are unable to provide any of it to you for the following reasons. We are withholding much of this information in reliance on section 30 of the FOIA, which concerns investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities.

Specifically, section 30(1) of the FOIA states:

30(1) Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it has at any time been held by the authority for the purposes of –

  • any investigation which the public authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained - (i) whether a person shall be charged with an offence, or (ii) whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it, (b) any investigation which is conducted by the authority and in the circumstances may lead to a decision by the authority to institute criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct, or (c) any criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct’

The case is subject to an ongoing investigation, and as such the exemptions at s30(1)(a)(i) and 30(1)(b) are both engaged".

You can draw your own conclusions. If this does not end up being a criminal matter, then I guess we may get the FOI responses in time.

First Voice

  1. Segum:

    Interesting to find out how 1 out of 4 suspended returned to work

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