On 18th October I posted on a recent experience of court interpreters supplied by Capita plc. Last week on BBC iplayer I watched a real life version of the political satire “The Thick of It” or to give it its proper name:- Recorded coverage of the Justice Committee's session on interpreting and translation services and the Applied Language Solutions contract, from Tuesday 23 October 2012. The sheer ineptitude of the very high ranking civil servants who allowed this fiasco to take place makes one more sorrowful than surprised. A report in the Law Society Gazette of the appearance before the same Committee of the founder of Applied Language Solutions reveals details of even greater interest insofar as he claims that ‘there was an awful lot of intimidation around this contract…..” His selling his company for what one assumes was a tidy profit shortly after the contract was finalised is an intriguing twist to a story which has less than its fair share of transparency. Indeed on 30/10/2012 a parliamentary answer to a parliamentary question lends some substance to Gary Wheeldon`s reported remarks to the Select Committee;
“Wheeldon said that his company had put together ‘detailed project plans’ but a lack of information from the MoJ meant it could only make ‘assumptions’ about demand for services".
>Nick de Bois (Enfield North, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost was of providing translation services in magistrates courts in (a) London and (b) England in each of the last five years.
• Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 30 October 2012, c126W)
Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)
Information on the cost of translation in the magistrate's courts was not collected separately prior to 30 January 2012. However we estimate that the cost of services to the Department was approximately £30 million, including all criminal and civil courts and tribunals. The lack of visibility of the amounts spent in this area was one of the factors which led the Department to make a change to the way these services are sourced. This information will be more readily available in the future.
It seems not unlikely that there will be more twists in this tale and Capita plc will feature again in many in boxes in Whitehall.