Legal Aid NSW waste of tax payer money

As many of you are aware, we deal with removal requests following a very simple process outlined on our contact page. All we asked is for an email from a personally identifiable email address and we’ll do the rest.

So when we got this email from Michael Walton of Legal Aid NSW, the first thing we did was check our records, as if Legal Aid is involved, surely a mistake was made on our end. Surely we overlooked an email, or a request was handled improperly, or some other mistake was made that would warrant a followup. Surely Legal Aid was acting in the best interests of the tax payers if they needed to bill hours on behalf of their client.

Dear Sir/Madam,

RE: LETTER OF DEMAND

Legal Aid NSW acts for *removed* of *removed*. *removed* has a silent phone number *removed*.

We refer to your emails of 7 August 2015 and 10 August 2015.

Our client will not be disclosing any personal information to your company. Our client will not be writing to you using her personal email address.

You are in breach of the Australian Privacy Principles (APP), as set out in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

Our client’s silent phone number and other contact details were released by her telecommunications provider, Singtel Optus Pty Ltd, without our client’s consent.

APP 4.3 states that a company which holds unsolicited personal information must destroy the information if it would not have been able to collect the information under APP 3.

Our client denies that she would ever have authorised your company to collect and publish this information. Accordingly, our client demands that you remove all details, including name address and phone number, of our client from all of your databases and services.

If you will not comply with this demand, please provide a business address to which we can forward legal process.

Michael Walton | Solicitor | Civil Law Division | Legal Aid NSW

A: Endeavour House, Suite 2, 3-5 Stapleton Ave SUTHERLAND NSW 2232 | DX 4528 Sutherland
T: (02) 9521-3733 (switch) | F: (02) 9521-8933
E: [email protected]

We checked through our records, and sure enough there was no email from the individual and she had made no attempt to contact us. The email from Michael even states this.

So wait, surely the client didn’t have a personal email address or was incapable of writing an email herself? Not the case. This is from correspondence with a government department:

Our office received *removed* complaint from her personal email address.

As part of our investigation of her complaint, *removed* has also:

* completed and signed a Commonwealth statutory declaration
* provided a bank statement in her name.

So the client was capable of writing a personal email, and capable of providing scanned documents, but not willing to write to us. Failure to act on your own behalf does not constitute reasonable need to public assistance.

So why is this a big deal? Because Legal Aid NSW clearly states on their website that they do not deal with matters of privacy. When we questioned Michael Walton about this, he stated it was their choice to deal with the matter and that he didn’t have to explain himself. It is of public interest when tax payer money is wasted.

legalaid

When we asked how they could possibly justify this waste of tax payer money, we got the following response:

Dear Mr Campbell

I understand you are seeking information from Legal Aid NSW about the type of legal assistance we provide to clients.

If you could set out your request for information in writing with your company’s ABN I will respond as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Aideen

Aideen McGarrigle
A/Manager, Legal Policy Branch
Strategic Policy & Planning
Legal Aid NSW
ph: 9219 5701
[email protected]

So Michael, how do you justify this? Why are you wasting tax payer money? Your client is clearly capable and willing to write an email – she clearly does not need legal assistance to make contact with us. Why are you accepting cases you clearly shouldn’t be accepting? You have a responsibility to tax payers to use their money for matters that actually matter, not because someone wishes to be lazy. You are clearly in violation of Legal Aid NSW policy by even accepting this case.

So Michael, we are calling you out. Explain to us why you are wasting tax payer money and we’ll happily publish it here for you.

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