The public authorities are unaccountable and out of control, the regulators fail to act – Time to enforce the standards

The UK’s public authorities and the sectors they are supporting are failing to act according to the law and in the public interest. Regulators are presiding over widespread corporate failure and complaints are in vein, treated with distain.

Professor Prem Sikka highlighted some of these failings, focused on the insolvency sector in his article of February this year, yet Intelligence UK has found the issue to be far more severe and wide ranging. We focused our investigation on the legal regulators, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board. We found, across several cases whereby complainants had genuine and serious misconduct complaints against solicitors and barristers, that the regulators worked to sweep the complaints under the carpet. It is as if they are acting to advocate misconduct by supporting the wrongdoers in preventing them from prosecution. There is, overall, a complete lack of accountability across not only the Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority, but across the most of the UK’s public authorities.

The Nolan Principles, also known as the 7 principles of public life established a set of ethical standards that all public authorities must obey. First set out by Lord Nolan in 1995, the Nolan Principles underpins the Ministerial code. Lord Nolan was instrumental in setting standards to recommended full disclosure of MPs' interests and contracts for providing parliamentary services, as well as a ban private sector work by former ministers going to a private role whilst utilizing their creditors to lever financial advantages.

Nowadays the ground-breaking work of Lord Nolan is being diminished. The Committee on Standards in Public Life, is the UK's independent advisory non-departmental public body to regulate the authorities, with a secretariat and budget provided by the Cabinet Office. It is responsible for advising the Prime Minister on ethical issues relating to standards in public life and conducting broad inquiries into standards of conduct. Effectively the Committee on Standards in Public Life is the only watchdog and regulator of these standards and they absolutely fail to act in the public interest, nor to deal with any complaint of a breach of those standards. When Intelligence UK contacted them in relation to widespread proven breaches across several cases, they evaded our complaints and stated there is nothing they could do. It was stated by one of their senior officers that we were to “raise the complaint with the authority we are complaining of” implying that the authority would investigate its own misconduct against the public interest. The outcome would of course be pre-determined, they investigate themselves and find no wrongdoing. This is the pattern we have seen from BEIS, the ministerial department for the Insolvency Service, the Bar Standards Board, the Law Society, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and the ICAEW, the regulator of chartered accountants that also governs conduct of and licenses insolvency practitioners.

The principle of nemo judex in causa sua, meaning literally that “I shall not be a judge of my own cause” does apply to this misfeasance. It is this diminishment of the core principles of public life and the core principles of those failing public authorities that is cause of lawlessness and prevalent abuse perpetrated by those within and those they regulate. On the same basis, it is the failings of police and the courts to enforce the promote the rule of laws of the United Kingdom that paves the way for white collar crime escalating beyond control. In short, a total sham and outright failings by the taxpayer sponsored public authorities to act in the public interests according to their own laws and core principles they purport to advocate.

The 7 Principles of Public Life:

The 7 principles of public life apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder. This includes people who are elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally, and all people appointed to work in:

  • the civil service
  • local government
  • the police
  • the courts and probation services
  • non-departmental public bodies
  • health, education, social and care services

The principles also apply to all those in other sectors that deliver public services and those principles we implemented as a rule of law to prevent the public from abuse from public authorities and their officers. It is the lack of enforcement and the wilful failings of the only regulator, or should we say, the absence of any independent regulator to enforce the standards that paves the way for widespread office holder misfeasance and unaccountable public authorities. Those failings in turn creates the path for widespread lack of accountability, honesty, integrity and compromisation of standards within those public authorities and the sectors they purport to regulate.

The 7 principles of public life, listed below, are well devised and if implemented, would curb much of the gross malfeasance that we have established to run rife in these public authorities that purport to act in the public interest and in fact do the opposite: