UPDATED: Spotlight on Barry Porter, Head of the CMS FIU
We wrote a recent post about the FIU of the Child Maintenance Service in an effort to shed some light on this opaque group of Civil Servants.
Whilst the organisational chart is redacted at the levels below that of Marc Gill, the “Positive Pant” wearing Director of Arrears and Enforcement. We have been looking into the redacted bits and identifying who has managerial responsibilities outside of those that the DWP/CMS is legally obliged to divulge.
Now, given that the task of the FIU is ostensibly to catch “child maintenance cheats” and that Heidi Allen MP recently said that:
Maintenance Evasion often goes hand-in-hand with tax evasion
Heidi Allen MP (on behalf of Work and Pensions Select Committee)
(Editor Note: We have yet to see any evidence to back up this very broad assertion).
We would like to think that the DWP have selected a person who is beyond reproach to run this “specialist team of investigators”. So, who has Marc Gill given the important task of running the FIU (which carries with it a lot of intrusive powers into peoples private affairs)? Who is the best man for the job (that the DWP could come up with)? This is important as we think that the professional and moral standards in an organisation are set by the leadership.
We understand that the box on the organisational chart that says “Head of FIU” is currently occupied by a man called Barry Porter.
We should state up front that Barry was never “convicted” of anything that follows (he was too “ill” for that to happen).
Who is Barry Porter?
Luckily for us, Barry has put quite a lot of information on his LinkedIn page where he states his title as “Head of Financial Investigations Unit & Central Legal Services – DWP (Child Maintenance Group)”.
Mr Porter was previously a Metropolitan Police Detective Constable which on the face of it that looks like a good start for someone running a specialist team of investigators.
After the Metropolitan Police in 1997 he joined the Civil Service and worked for the CSA as their “Senior Compliance Officer” at the CSA office in Hastings, East Sussex.
Here’s a quote from Mr Porter in response to challenges that it was inappropriate for the CSA to be encouraging parents to take out loans where they had not (or could not) pay their CSA demands.
“But we make no apologies for it. The way I see it, these people have borrowed their children’s money and if they have to seek another lender with high interest rates to pay the money back, then so be it.”
Barry Porter quoted in the Daily Mirror, 2009
UPDATE: December 2017
It appears Barry Porter has now removed his LinkedIn profile – possibly as a result of this article. That’s a shame.
Oh… did we mention we’d anticipated that he might? No?
Here’s how it was linked on Google:
Barry Porter’s Metropolitan Police career
As we mentioned, it seems that Barry Porter had a 20 year career in the Metropolitan Police which ended rather abruptly due to “medical reasons” in 1997. We were sufficiently interested in this statement to take a look and find out a little more about how a man who was working for the police could retire for such reasons only to re-appear a short time later doing a very similar job for the Child Support Agency (albeit without a Warrant Card).
This is a quote from an annex note submitted by the Metropolitan Police Service to a Home Affairs Select Committee report looking into Metropolitan Police misconduct. The full report can be found here.
“However, I do have a minority of officers who are corrupt, dishonest, unethical … They commit crimes, they neutralise evidence in important cases and they betray police operations and techniques to criminals. These bad officers sap the morale of their honest colleagues and they do immense damage to public confidence … they are very difficult to target and prosecute.”
Sir Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, 1997
The annex outlines events that started in 1995 and that concerned 3 serving police officers who included a certain DC Barry Porter. The officers (allegedly) provided a private “Bodyguard” and “Chauffeur Service” for a wealthy businessman whose property they had attended after it was burgled.
“It is believed that a sum of several thousand pounds was to be paid for the service.”
Without re-hashing the annex detail we will highlight some points specific to Barry Porter.
“DC Porter was to have been charged with seven offences, similar in nature to those of DS Bradley”
So what was DS Bradley charged with?
1. Failing to notify the Commissioner of a business interest (acting as chauffeur/bodyguard).
2. Discreditable conduct by acting as a chauffeur/bodyguard on 20 occasions in October and November 1995.
3. Carrying an unauthorised passenger in a police vehicle.
4. Failing to record use of a police vehicle in the log.
5. Driving a police vehicle for his own purpose.
6. Failing to record details of a criminal investigation.
7. Making false/misleading entries on his duty state-7 counts.
8. Making false/misleading entries on his duty state-4 counts.
Barry Porter was to be charged with similar disciplinary offences to those listed above. But what did Barry Porter do?
“All the officers subsequently reported sick”
It looks from that statement like Barry Porter pulled a sickie.
What happened next?
“DS Martin and DC Porter were also granted ill-health pensions (in August 1996 and April 1997, respectively), although the MPS deeply regretted that discipline proceedings could not take place.”
But it does not end there… it also appears that Barry Porter attempted to claim an award for “Injury” (it was not successful but he tried…).
“In the case of Porter, the claim for an injury award relates to depression and anxiety which ‘has been precipitated by his suspension from the police and the way in which it was conducted.'”
So, according to those details, it appears that Mr Porter was depressed and anxious. Interesting.
The Metropolitan Police finished the statement as follows
“There remains real concern that individuals who are ostensibly mentally strong before their suspension, suffer severe psychiatric illness immediately afterwards and yet so quickly recover following their retirement, to the extent that they are able to function in demanding areas of employment.”
Here is an Article from The Independent that covers the whole sordid affair.
What about his time working for the DWP, has there been any issue there?
This part of Barry Porter’s life is less obvious but we did find an article about a dispute in which the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) had to intervene with respect to endemic bullying in the Hastings Office of the CSA.
Barry Porter features prominently again in this account (and not in a positive way).
“Branch Treasurer Winston Resalsingh was sacked for asking a manager if he was being discriminated against, after he had repeatedly been refused time to attend PCS Group Black Members Committee meetings.”
That manager was…. Barry Porter. The article, which can be read here, describes Barry Porter as having an “interesting past”. The article is also fairly scathing about the management culture in the CMS Hastings office (which include, amongst other things, BNP leafletting and unauthorised amendments to official meeting minutes).
“However, it should not be thought this is a case of one or two rogue managers – managers up to an including the then Area Manager Karl Khan upheld this decision. Without pressure from the national union to get the case heard by a manager outside Hastings it would have been let stand.”
And then there is the account of minutes being altered
“An attempt was made to discipline Chris Brambleby, Branch Chair, on the grounds that by representing Winston (Editor note: the chap fired by Barry Porter) in his grievance and refusing to disassociate himself from Winston’s question he was insulting the managers whose impartiality had been questioned.
This was dropped after it was proved that someone had altered the minutes of a meeting in an apparent attempt to strengthen the case against Chris.
An “enquiry” by the HR dept found that the alteration of the minutes was an accident that couldn’t be traced to any individual. Chris wrote to the Area Manager pointing out the spectacular implausibility that an accident should just happen to produce minutes making him look worse at the exact same time he was facing disciplinary action and received a reply that he, the Area Manager, was “disappointed” by Chris’s “attitude”.”
Lastly, the article describes the Hastings office of the CSA (which is now the same office used by the CMS) as
“the Bermuda triangle of the civil service”
Barry Porter was a Senior Manager during that period so presumably he was key to setting this management culture (perhaps he introduced the CSA/CMS to some of his “management techniques” learned during his earlier career). More worryingly, he is now listed as the Head of the FIU.
This raises serious questions about the judgement of the Senior people at the DWP (and the Government Ministers and MP’s that support them)……
Do you, or have you worked with Barry Porter?
Has he ever offered to provide you a chauffeur service or personal protection? We want to hear from you.
Please feel free to email us your accounts and we will add them to this article anonymously. You can also comment anonymously below.
Finally, if Barry Porter is reading this and would like to tell his side of the story then we would be delighted to publish that too. Perhaps he could share some of his tips for dealing with “anxiety” or provide us with some examples of “Management 101 according to Barry Porter“.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Who watches the watchers?
Also published on Medium.