- In Practice
- In Business
- Moving On
Applied founder blames ‘intimidation’ for court interpreter debacle
The founder of the company at the centre of the court interpreting debacle today blamed ‘intimidation’ and ‘quite horrendous’ threats by interpreters boycotting his company for its failure to meet targets.
Gavin Wheeldon, former chief executive of Applied Language Solutions, told the House of Commons justice committee that ‘there was an awful lot of intimidation around this contract – strong encouragement not to do the work [for Applied]… There's been interpreters who've been spat on, been threatened - the things that went on were quite horrendous.’
Wheeldon (pictured far left) said resistance to the new arrangements, coupled with a lack of management information from the Ministry of Justice, led to a performance that was ‘far from satisfactory’.
Organisations representing interpreters strongly denied the claim. Madeleine Lee, director of the Professional Interpreters Alliance, said: 'We are categorically unaware of such incidents, and will ask the justice committee to request evidence to support them.' Geoffrey Buckingham, chairman of the Association of Police and Court Interpreters, said he had ‘never seen any evidence’ of threats. ‘Obviously we would strongly condemn any such behaviour.’
During the hearing Wheeldon denied that Applied had misled the MoJ over its capacity to fulfil the contract or that it had failed to disclose problems in the assessment or validation of interpreters. 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.
Wheeldon pocketed the lion’s share of £6m when he sold Applied, to the services giant Capita a few weeks after winning the MoJ contract in August 2011. The company is now called Capita Translation and Interpreting.
Earlier this week, Capita’s chief operating officer Andy Parker told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that the company was ‘in material breach’ at the start of the contract and was issued with a formal notice to improve by the MoJ.
He said he did not believe that the company is still in material breach, but the committee heard that the service is being delivered in breach of contractual obligations in the absence of mechanisms to assess and monitor the standard of interpreters used.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge MP said was is ‘a bit scary’ that six months into the contract there is no way of making sure that the quality of interpreters is appropriate to ensure the proper administration of justice.
- Poor will suffer from court fee changes, MoJ warned
- Overwhelming public backing for legal aid: poll
- Fight PI changes, says MASS chair
- Mass meeting of barristers takes a stand on QASA
- Pannone turns to fixed-price mediation post-Jackson
- Grayling asks for quality standard for PCT firms
- 7,000 lawyers to hit the streets for free legal advice
- French revolution
- ‘Google’ asylum refusals
- Pilot aims to limit clinical negligence solicitors’ fees
- Will-writing could still be regulated
- In-house growth accelerating
- Appeal Court applies Russian law in dispute
- Insurers to revamp third-party code
- Court interpreters reject new contract deal
- European data plan labelled ‘demented’
- Saudi Arabia accepts registration of female lawyer
- Don’t worry about Jackson fallout – judge
- North-west paralegal initiative
- Criminal legal aid cuts to reach £370m
- SRA’s popularity slips
- Traffic courts to be set up
- Economy 'testing access to justice'
- MoJ plans crackdown on ‘so-called’ experts
- Midlands ABS issues ‘join us’ offer to insurers
- Law Society Excellence Awards now open for nomination
- Desperate PI firms breaking referral fee ban – AXA chief
- Jurors ‘confused’ on new media contempt
- End-to-end negligence defence practice sets up as ABS