Thursday, 31 October 2013

Another e-petition, another response

Below is the response to another of the e-petitions I signed.

Dear Myles Cook,

The e-petition 'Remove the subsidy from the House of Commons Catering and Bars' signed by you recently reached 13,598 signatures and a response has been made to it.

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: Responsibility for this policy area is a matter for the House of Commons Service. The costs of catering in the House have been reduced since 2003 and in 2012/13 were a quarter less than five years before; figures are published here: ). The House of Commons Service is working to further reduce these cost. The customers for the catering services include around 13,000 pass-holders (Members of both Houses, their staff, House staff, civil servants, contractors’ staff, members of the Press Gallery etc.) as well as members of the public and non pass holding visitors to Parliament. Many of the restaurants and dining room facilities, and their staff, are extensively used to cater for private events at times when they are not required by the House. Much of the net cost to the House arises because of the irregular hours and unpredictability of Parliamentary business. Food and drink prices are regularly reviewed and set at levels benchmarked against similar outlets outside the House. Decisions relating to the budget for, and charges within, the House Catering Services are matters for the House of Commons Commission, not for the Government.

View the response to the e-petition


HM Government e-petitions

A Game of Shadows... part 2

It seems as though it will be nigh on impossible to discover the identity of the person responsible for sending the police to my doorstep on Tuesday evening.

The Essex Police Data Protection office was as helpful as a bunch of jobsworths can be and the experience has shone a light on a strange and, quite frankly, stupid state of affairs regarding cross-border policing between different police forces.  I had asked for the procedure for getting the full details of the incident that had two Essex Police officers knocking at my door enquiring about my mental state following a reported ‘concern’ from someone in the Metropolitan Police area.  I was told to fill in an A95 form to request the information from the Essex Police but that I would probably have to get the information regarding the Metropolitan Police end of the inquiry because Essex Police would not have access to it.

I don’t know about you but, if there was a criminal that was operating across jurisdictional borders, I would hope that there would be some system of information sharing in place to aid the investigations on both sides of the jurisdictional border.  I can envision a serial rapist or murderer being able to continue a long running campaign of terror across two police jurisdictions just because the two police forces in question weren’t talking to one another and that is not a state of affairs I’m happy with at all.  I was, however, informed that I might be able to get the reports written by the two Essex Police officers from the Metropolitan Police Data Protection office as it is possible that they would be sent to the Metropolitan Police officer who instigated the chain of events.

I was in the process of looking up the A95 form on Essex Police’s website while I tried to get through to the Metropolitan Police Data Protection office and explain the situation to them when I was given the Metropolitan Police’s version of what I had been told by Essex Police.  I was also surprised to discover, having found the form, that a charge of £10 was being levied on getting the information.  I was incensed at the idea of having to pay £10 for information that is essentially about me from a publically funded organisation and that the amount would most likely be doubled as I would have to apply for the information I wanted from each police force individually.  I said I was appalled at this charging for information that regards me and ended the ‘phone call, saying that, quite rightly, I don’t have the money to throw around on such a venture.

I contacted the Independent Police Complaints Commission to complain about not being able to get the information I require and that, essentially, this was allowing a crime – that of wasting police time – to go unprosecuted.  I was informed that there was nothing the IPCC could do to help me and that, even if I were to pay the £10 or £20 to the respective police forces, I would probably not be given the name of the person who contacted the Metropolitan Police in the first place.  The person on the ‘phone gave me the telephone number of the office of the Information Commissioner so I could explain the problem to them in the hope that they may be able to help.

I shouldn’t have bothered calling the Information Commissioner as the lady on the ‘phone confirmed that the information would not include the name of the person who started the ball rolling in the first place.  This obviously angered me and, during a very long and circular conversation, I pointed out that meant that the person who made the slanderous attack on my mental state (as that is how I view it, seeing as how anyone who knew me would have contacted me and not the police if they were worried about me and those who know me from my online activities have been given no reason to suspect me of being in a crisis) could hide behind the Data Protection Act to make a personal attack on me and get away with it – how very un-British.  I pointed out that this situation meant that my legal right to face my accuser (as that is how I view the complainant) was being ignored and that the crimes of slander and wasting police time would therefore remain unpunished.  All the woman kept doing was repeating that all she could do was explain the situation through the lens of the Data Protection Act, even when I asked her to stop thinking about the implications of the organisation she worked for and give me her personal opinion on my assertion.  Eventually I just slammed the ‘phone down knowing that the woman was just another jobsworth.

So, in all, I have come to the conclusion that, even if I pay for the privilege, I am unlikely to find out who called the police on me although I don’t think regular readers would have to look to far on this blog to find the odd potential culprit.  My legal and moral right to be able to face my accuser is obviously not as strong as an attacker’s right to anonymity and it really makes me sick.

How can we have allowed this legal quagmire to have developed?  How could we have allowed a piece of legislation that is meant to protect an individual’s personal information from also be used to conceal the identity of a slanderer?  Does this mean that the justice system cares more about the perpetrator of slander than the harm caused to the victim of said slander?

I think the different police forces should look at their cross-jurisdictional working practices and that the Data Protection Act should be looked at so that slanderers won’t go unpunished for their crime.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Game of Shadows...

Just a quick posting to inform you, my loyal readers, of a worrying development.
I have just had a visit by two officers from Essex Police enquiring about my mental state.  Someone reported a concern regarding my mental state to the Metropolitan Police who, in turn, asked the Essex Police to check on me.  The question is, however, who would gain from questioning my mental state?
My parents live in the Metropolitan Police area but they wouldn't contact the police about my mental state, they would merely call me.  I have no other family or friends in that area who would express concerns about me to the police either.
And why would anyone have any concerns about my mental health anyway?  I haven't expressed any suicidal ideation on this blog, my Twitter feed or on Facebook for well over two years apart from the article I wrote about euthanasia and assisted suicide quite a few months ago and, as that article is well-written, articulate and thoughtful, it hardly rings alarm bells regarding my mental state.
I have my theories over who would make such accusations regarding my mental state but I will not voice them here just yet.
The two officers left after quite a long chat, the result of which is that they seemed reassured of my mental competence and happily went away to report that I am not suicidal or homicidal.
I did, however, give them some background on who I think may be behind the report and why that person is doing it.
I will contact the police to get some answers tomorrow and will post the results of my enquiries here as soon as I have something to report.

Reply from Stephen Metcalfe MP

Below is the full text of the reply I received from Stephen Metcalfe MP with regards to my request for his help with my MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.
As I suspected, he is unwilling to assist me and has hidden behind official protocol rather than trying to make a difference.
Dear Mr Cook,
Thank you for your email.
While I understand your concern that my colleague has not responded in the manner you would wish, I am sure you will appreciate it is not for one Member of Parliament to tell another how to deal with their constituents.
Indeed there is a strict parliamentary protocol that stops one Member of Parliament from dealing with another MPs constituents.
Thank you again for your email.
Yours sincerely
Stephen Metcalfe
Member of Parliament for South Basildon & East Thurrock
I have sent the following reply.
Dear Mr Metcalfe,
Thank you for your reply. I did not think that you would help me but at least you had the decency to reply which is more than Ms Doyle-Price does.
I was hoping that you would be willing to spread some of the good practice you do to others regardless of official protocol but I am not surprised that you have declined.
Thank you again for your response.
Myles Cook
I'm not expecting a reply but, if I get one, I post it right here on this blog.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

And so life goes on...

Oh, what a week!  I have been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, emotionally speaking, the entire week.  I don’t seem to be able to get on an even footing and as such am living with mood swings that may not be that extreme but are nonetheless hampering my day-to-day life.

Despite all this emotional rollercoastering, I have been doing quite a bit of stuff over the last few days.  I attended a training session at Anglia Ruskin University on Tuesday regarding the Admissions process for the Social Work BA and MA courses – well, the morning part which was the most important part of the training – and then went off to give a presentation to the MA students regarding Service User and Worker Experience for the first of the two sessions on that particular subject.  I was back at the university the next day presenting the same material to the BA students, my first time delivering to that particular group.

Thursday was a flurry of activity coming up with course content for the second Service User and Worker Experience session that I’ll be delivering next Wednesday and Thursday.  Five PowerPoint presentations, about nine handouts and several hours of collating information for the aforementioned presentations and handouts later and I was about ready to have a breakdown.

Friday was the Men’s Group for guys suffering with mental health problems which is, at the moment, rather poorly attended despite the best efforts of the regulars to get others to attend.  It is quite nice to sit around and chat with guys who know what it’s like to suffer from this invisible health condition so it really doesn’t matter how many are there really.  I’m quite friendly with the regulars and it gives us a chance to chat about whatever we feel like chatting about with the added bonus that no-one will judge us.

Today, I’ve been finishing off the PowerPoint presentations and making up some more handouts for next week’s lectures at the university.  In fact, I finished most of the additions before I started to write this blog entry so I’m quite proud of the amount of stuff I’ve done under quite stressful circumstances.

As much as I have wanted to give up and just let the darkness have me this week, I have continued to work towards a positive goal that I hope will help the BA and MA social work students really get to understand the service user view of their chosen profession and make them better social workers in the process.

Monday, 21 October 2013

A plea to my neighbouring MP

Below is the full text, apart from the removal of my friend’s name, of a letter to Stephen Metcalfe, the Parliamentary representative of the neighbouring constituency to mine.  I don’t really expect a reply or any help as Parliamentary etiquette demands that MPs only take on cases for their own constituents but you never know.

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

I am writing to ask for your help in a delicate matter.  I am not actually one of your constituents but I am a resident of Thurrock who is having trouble with your Parliamentary colleague, Jackie Doyle-Price.

I was told by a friend of mine, ___________, who is a regular correspondent with yourself that, regardless of the amount of e-mails he sends you, you always acknowledge receipt of each one and provide a reply to each one as well.  This being the case, I thought I would approach you with my problem in the fervent hope that you may be able to have a discrete word with Ms Doyle-Price.

I sent a lot of e-mails to Ms Doyle-Price and not only did she not acknowledge receipt of them in most cases but she has not replied to any of the points I raised with her.  In fact, her only reply accused me of overt hostility and failed to answer any of the points I brought up in any of the e-mails.  I admit that the e-mails are strongly worded and assertive but none could be considered hostile.  Ms Doyle-Price stated that "I have no need of a pen friend" and that she was "under no obligation to indulge" the correspondence which she believed was "becoming unpleasantly hostile" in "tone and volume".

Ms Doyle-Price also sent me an Easy Read leaflet on the role of an MP despite the fact that, as you can see, I am rather an articulate writer and not someone with a learning difficulty.

If you are willing to intercede in this matter, I am willing to send you copies of all the correspondence to which I refer together with scans of Ms Doyle-Price's letters.


Myles Cook

As usual, any reply I get will be posted here on this blog.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The scanned image I promised you

Below is the scanned image of the postcard I got from my local MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.

As you can see, Ms Doyle-Price's replies are getting so short now that I'm expecting the next one to be a single word reply.  Or maybe she'll just tell me to "Fuck off!!!!!!!" - it does seem to suit her style and attitude.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Jackie Doyle-Price saga continues!

I received a communication from Jackie Doyle-Price a day or two ago, it is simply a postcard acknowledging my e-mails and stating that the contents of them have been noted.  I will upload a scan of the postcard here as soon as I can get it scanned.

She has got the dates wrong - 11 Sept (*9), 13, 14, 15 & 27 Sept - but it may be that my e-mail to Grant Shapps, Tory party chairman, has borne some fruit.  I may not have any answers yet but I am not giving up on getting those answers or getting JD-P to do her duty.

I have sent this reply to the postcard:

Dear Ms Doyle-Price,
Thank you for your postcard acknowledging my correspondence during September. 
Could you now actually supply some substantive answers to the questions I asked and comments and suggestions I made?
I also ask that you make a public apology in the Thurrock media for questioning my intelligence by sending me a copy of an Easy Read leaflet? And, please, don't try to make an apology that reflects negatively on me as I have done nothing wrong in corresponding with you or given you the slightest reason to believe I have learning difficulties. My e-mails were strongly worded and assertive but not rude or abusive; your reply, however, was rude, dismissive and showed a stigmatising attitude towards me as a person with a mental health condition.
My correspondence with yourself concerned asking for your opinions or actions only you could perform on my behalf so satisfy the conditions laid out in Page 4 of the leaflet you sent me. The correspondence was directed to you as you are my representative in Parliament and would, therefore, give you the opportunity to satisfy the condition laid out on Page 2 of the leaflet you sent - "Your MP is there to speak up for people in your area".
I look forward to your substantive reply to my enquiries in your next letter and an apology in the local Thurrock media as soon as can be arranged.
Kind regards,
Myles Cook

As always, any reply I get will appear here on this blog.

Back to square one...?

So, after several good things happening to me, the other foot has finally dropped and I’m in a bad situation that I thought had been resolved.  The resolution may not have been to the satisfaction of either party but was, I thought, an amicable solution.

I was, however, wrong.  My wife has renewed her request for a divorce today and I’m devastated.  All I have to look forward to now is a struggle to find someone to support me in my efforts to handle the divorce, my need for benefits and separate social housing and the increased daily struggle against my depression.

The work I’ve been doing to improve my condition have only been possible because I have had the support of my wife, despite our marital problems, and without her, I can see myself becoming socially isolated again.  As my social isolation gets worse, my depression and social anxiety will likewise worsen and the personality disorder that my psychiatrist believed I may also suffer from will be pushed from borderline to full-blown status.

I’m not sure what to do now.  My wish for an assisted suicide will probably come back at full strength again as well; it’s never far from my mind but as things have gotten better for me, the desire has diminished in response.  Where does this turn of events leave me now?

I still love my wife.  Yes, I made a terrible mistake but I’m not entirely to blame for the situation that led to the mistake I made.  It seems, though, that I am being entirely blamed for everything and will bear the brunt of the pain that is to come.

I doubt I will ever find anyone who will even look at me twice, let alone want a relationship with me, so the idea that a divorce will free me up for another relationship is kind of hollow.

My work on mental health awareness is a matter of note and documented on the internet so I can’t hide my problem from potential partners who will just run a mile when they realise I’m mentally unwell.

I really thought my life was working itself out at last and now the rug has been pulled out from under me again and I’m staring into the fucking Abyss again.