28 September 2012

Ridicule delayed

After some months, SSDC was kind enough to send me a 'redacted' copy of the investigation report into the raft of complaints lodged by Messers Canvin, Mountain, Medley, Briggs, Richardson, Smith and Edgar(s) against Cllr Michael Fraser-Hopewell and its 107 pages make interesting reading - more of which later.  It has, however, taken SSDC more than 3 months to provide me with this 'redacted' version and I am moved to wonder just why its taken them so long.

I co-operated with the investigator and, apart from our face-to-face discussion, all my correspondence was in electronic form and, I assume, the investigator corresponded with SSDC in the same way. (I doubt there was any use of carrier pigeons or quill pens.) So why did it take more than 3 months to provide an electronic copy of the redacted document? The excuse already made by SSDC (in the person of Mr Ian Clarke) is that 'redacting' such a long document took a lot of time. Hmmmmmm

To test this proposal, I undertook some lab experiments using a sophisticated tool which is obviously unavailable or unknown to Mr Clarke and his colleagues. Most modern word processors have a facility called 'find and replace' which allows you to search a document finding specific terms and replacing them with terms of your choice. In the redacted document the term ***** appears 1473 times indicating that 1473 terms (names, in this case) have been removed. That part of the process, finding *****, took my 5 year old desktop something less than 2 seconds.

The next part of the experiment was to find ***** and replace it with some of the terms I know to have been redacted (Fraser-Hopewell, Canvin, Mountain, Medley, Briggs, Richardson, Smith, Edgar). In each case, the 'find and replace' action took something less than 2 seconds.

Finally, just to test the extremes of the 'find and replace' facility, I used it to insert some more sophisticated terms into the document and I tried 'mindless bureaucrat' and 'obstructive jobsworth'. Once again, the 'find and replace' feature undertook the action in something less than 2 seconds.

So, what does this experiment tell me? It tells me that SSDC could very easily have provided this document, dated 19th June, some time ago. Maybe not 16 seconds after its arrival at SSDC but certainly not three months later. A case of 'ridicule delayed'?

PS If anyone wants a copy of the document (including the redacted names) please get in touch with M&B