The Hallett Review – Are The Worms Coming Out Of The Can – An Executive Summary, Summary

Today The Hallett Review was published after a little delay, originally it was intended to be completed around the end of May. The aims of the Review, which was undertaken by Dame Heather Hallett, was to ‘produce a full public account of the operation and extent of the administrative scheme for OTRs, to determine whether any letters sent through the scheme contained errors, and to make recommendations as necessary on this or related matters that are drawn to the attention of the inquiry.

While I’m sure not many people will read the full report, I imagine that most people with an interest will at least read the executive summary and despite only reading the executive summary so far, (as I’ve been trying to catch a little of the sun whilst it’s out) a number of interesting points have popped up and grabbed my attention. 

The purpose of the review is outlined at the start of the document and one of its purposes is to ‘investigate and form a view on whether any of the letters issued under the scheme contained errors. In this context ‘errors’ means the possibility that the letter contained inaccurate or misleading information, as in the Downey case.’

Granted then that one of the purposes of the review was supposed to be to investigate if there have been any other errors, I found it strange that the next line goes on to say that, ‘to investigate and form a view in respect of errors, the reviewer will not be required to examine the detail of every individual case dealt with under the scheme’. In my mind, if you are seeking to fully review as to whether or not there have been any other mistakes, you would want to examine the detail of every individual case.

Point 2.25 of the review notes that there was a ‘spike’ in the number of individuals receiving letters of assurance between February 2007 and October 2008, however the report does not (at this stage) divulge into any detail as to why this was. Also, the report notes that during this same time frame, the status of 36 individuals changed from ‘wanted’ to ‘not wanted’. Again, at this stage in the report it doesn’t outline why there was such a spike in the change in status of individuals, although later the report does speculate various reasons as to why the status of so many individuals would change, such as; ‘much of the work had been done during previous reviews, because evidence no longer existed and/or in part because the Operation Rapid team in this period may have applied a higher threshold to categorise someone as ‘wanted’.’

Clearly then there are still questions to be answered in order to put any speculation to bed, although it seems very odd to me that such a high number of individuals would have their status changed over such a short period of time without knowing a precise reason as to why this was.

The final thing that stuck me as being very strange is that in point 2.67 of the document Lady Hallett notes that;

‘to my mind the administrative scheme, properly implemented, was not unlawful.’ 

 It is being reported widely that the OTR scheme wasn’t unlawful, so on this point I could be very far off the mark in placing too much emphasis on the wording of that sentence. However Lady Hallett has included a whole section in the executive summary (and later in the review) of criticisms of the administrative scheme and so far it’s very unclear to me whether or not Lady Hallett holds the opinion that, actually the scheme wasn’t implemented properly, and then if the lawfulness of the administrative scheme rests upon if whether or not the scheme was properly implemented, then finding out Lady Hallett’s view of whether she believes the scheme to be implemented properly or not could be key.

I should add that these are only some points that I found interesting on a reading of the executive summary, and I could well find that once I have read the whole document all of my questions have been cleared up. One thing is for sure though, is that I have plenty of reason to read on.  

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