Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Marie Adamova

My written evidence includes the following:

Evidence about inappropriate quality of ALS linguists and their services.

Evidence about failures in vetting procedures.

Evidence about the dishonesty of ALS linguists.

Evidence about the dishonesty of ALS.

Evidence about failures to make any savings in interpreting services.

Evidence about failures in complaints procedure.

Evidence that the FWA is not fit for purpose.

There has only been one winner in all this mess. His name is Gavin Wheeldon.

1. All evidence written bellow is backed up by documents or emails and can be send to Committee upon request.

2. It is generally known that “old” qualified interpreters do not work for ALS. Enquiries made to MoJ have revealed that only 301 of the ALS linguists are also on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (register of professional and vetted interpreters). ALS’ force is therefore built up of unprofessional inexperienced and undereducated workers e.g. ex hospital cleaners, kebab houses staff or care assistants.

3. I would like to introduce you one of ALS new linguist Mrs Nadia Tabler as a typical ALS linguist. She writes her own blog publicly available on the internet. The blog is also linked to her Facebook profile and Twitter account. She is a native Russian and work for ALS as a Lithuanian linguist. Please note, that Russian and Lithuanian are different languages and most Lithuanians do not speak or understand Russian at all. The blog is written in Russian and it is translated by professional interpreters (NRPSI registered).

ALS linguist Mrs Nadia Tabler wrote:

“With regards to my interpreting, it is going alright. I have now sat the assessment. I wouldn’t give myself even a ‘D-minus’, in either language.”

The agency is called ‘Applied Language Solutions’. Google them and send your application form. <...> With regards to the Lithuanian language, it’s not that difficult to understand them. It is difficult, however, to produce an adequate translation of the complicated legal terminology.”—6 May http://notabler.livejournal.com/158603.html

“I work for courts now, mostly with “our own” Lithuanians. They don’t look like they read any books, not a single one of them. They work, sleep, and drink. And when they are drunk they behave outrageously, and for that they get imprisoned. I have not dealt with major criminals yet, still need to study. I myself avoid the serious cases; those are heard at Crown Court. Everybody wears a wig there and they speak the highest level of English. The average Englishman would not understand and neither would I.”—15 June http://notabler.livejournal.com/165833.html

“I was thrown out of one court with shame—there was a female Lithuanian lawyer there who has several interpreter friends belonging to the enemy’s party. I was recently told that in Norwich there is another woman, who hates new interpreters with every fibre of her skin, thanks to her prayers I am no longer asked to go there. But the country has more than 400 magistrates’ courts; I will be OK without those.”—25 August http://notabler.livejournal.com/179348.html

On 25 August Mrs Nadia Tabler received a note from one reader:

“Such an interesting job—so many stories!”

Her answer was:

“Yes, but so far my qualification is rotten to brave myself for big court cases.”

Another extract: http://notabler.livejournal.com/170024.html#cutid1

“Since 25 March to today I made 85 interpreting outings to different towns and cities in Britainland.

Each such trip (I try to use a train, but I lie that I drive, then they pay more) takes up to 3 to 13 hours, sometimes I drive for 8 hours. I visited plenty of towns I had never seen before, we went with the whole family to some places, visited the sights before or after my work.

As for the title, the job is not always a delight. I only work in courts, with criminals, minor ones, fortunately. I lack knowledge sometimes and I still suffer from yet undeveloped skills from time to time. But generally, I manage to find a good way round. I got into unpleasant situations a few times.

A couple of times clients (Lithuanians) were unhappy with my interpreting, one even made a statement to the court demanding that they find another interpreter for the next hearing. One court banished me forever, they said my English wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t interpret one word with four attempts. I don’t go there now. On the contrary, they love me and are happy with me in other places. Once I came across a Lithuanian lawyer who stitched me up and refused to use my services because of bad interpreting. She must have needed to adjourn the case for some reasons so she used this. So stress does happen.”—http://notabler.livejournal.com/155777.html?thread=1575809

“Most importantly, I am at the crossroads. I’m seriously considering giving up my night shifts. I have signed up with a new interpreting agency (well, for me it is new, but it’s an old, powerful and rich company). They have been offering me loads of bookings—each day I receive tens of assignments. To be honest, they need a Lithuanian interpreter and all the bookings are for courts, and my Lithuanian has somewhat rusted without being used. But I did accept one booking and went along. It was alright. So I’ve accepted three more bookings, one of them scheduled for the whole day with an anticipated fee of around £700. It’s in London. If I do pull this deal off and actually receive that much money in one day, normally my monthly earnings at the madhouse (translator’s note—nursing home), I am going to give up my job.

I don’t think it makes sense for me to try taking the exam in Lithuanian at this stage, I will focus on my Russian for now. And mostly, on my English. If I fail it in May, I’ll carry on swotting up until I make it. And I will continue travelling every day to courts, teaching myself by “sink or swim”. I’ll be struggling, but becoming more experienced and learning from my mistakes. This is now my life’s plan.”—2 April http://notabler.livejournal.com/156484.html

4. As you can see Mrs Nadia Tabler has worked as ALS linguist since 25 March 2012 while she sat her assessment test in May 2012. She has been sent to courts without anyone questioning her language skills and knowledge. As she wrote: “she would give herself ‘D minus’ in either language”. As she also wrote her knowledge of Lithuanian is “weak” and her knowledge of legal terms is “minimal”. And she is going to travel to courts every day teaching herself by “sink or swim”. I truly believe this is not a level of service MOJ expected and signed up for. It is also breaching the conditions of FWA where all ALS linguists are supposed to be assessed. There are many publicly known cases where linguists were sent to work without any checks. They registered one day and were sent to work the next day or in a day or two.

5. Nadia Tabler lives in Colchester in Essex. As you can see she got one day booking in London for £700. Please note that in “the old system” the qualified NRPSI registered and vetted interpreter would be from London and would cost less than £300 (£235 for eight hours of interpreting, plus travel time and travel expenses). In such case there is no way to make any savings. As you know one condition in FWA was to have local linguists available within 25 miles.

6. Mrs Nadia Tabler was on one occasion “thrown out of one court with shame”. In another occasion the client complained and in another occasion she was banned from one court as her English was not sufficient. It means the cases had to be adjourned. I believe the costs of new hearings are much higher than to employ professional interpreters. As we can see she has huge gaps in her language knowledge and there had been complaints but she still works in courts. I assume that the complaints process requested at FWA does not work.

7. Mrs Nadia Tabler also lies to ALS regarding her means of transport as “she will get more money”. It is well known practice of ALS linguists. As we can see from the evidence she also lied about her ability to speak Lithuanian which is not sufficient for legal or any kind of assignment.

8. Mrs Nadia Tabler also shows inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour towards clients (eg calling one “asshole”), judges and solicitors, writes openly about cases she witnessed with many names of courts and dates. This shows a lack of professionalism, breaching confidentiality or even criminal offence.

9. Finally Mrs Nadia Tabler drove her car in the UK for two years without driving licence what she describes as her “adventurous nature”. It is a criminal offence to drive without driving licence and a valid insurance.

10. In August 2011 I registered in ALS database my rabbit pet Jajo (read YaYo). Jajo the Rabbit was happy in ALS database as a potential linguist. He received numerous emails as he was recognised as a linguist. His case became known in media nationwide in January 2012. Even Jajo was surprised that he was still on ALS database in March 2012. Jajo has proved that ALS does not check anything. They do not check IDs of their linguist. They send people without security vetting and people without proper language knowledge to court and police stations. Shocking!!! The UK has been known for the best justice system in the world now it has become an international embarrassment and known as “cheap justice”.

11. Condition set in FWA is to have all linguists security vetted by Warwickshire Police. According to FOI-2012–00320 there were following numbers of linguists:

720 applications had been received by their vetting unit from ALS since January 2012 of which 574 had passed the vetting process

2011 = Nil

2012: Jan = 182 Feb = 164 Mar = 6 Apr = 30 May = 134 June = 39

It is clear that at the beginning of February 2012 ALS had only 346 linguists vetted and there were 574 ALS linguists vetted by the end of June 2012.

From the number of assignments in courts it is clear that ALS:

(a)Have sent linguists to courts without vetting which is in breach of FWA Agreement.

(b)Have lied to MoJ about numbers of their linguists available to take bookings. I truly believe that even Jajo the Rabbit (together with his friends Masha the Cat, Meercat Sergei and late dog) was included in their numbers of linguists.

12. As a qualified and professional interpreter, I can see the dangers of using amateurs in such sensitive types of work within the CJS. It is not easy to master any foreign language to such a level so as to be able to fully understand all the fine details in court hearings in a foreign language—and it takes years of hard study. Interpreting also has its own techniques and processes which are unknown to amateurs and which need many hours of learning and practise. The Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) is a nationally-recognised Level 6 qualification and to believe that ANY PERSON (or even my pet-rabbit!) can become a professional legal interpreter without any proper training/qualifications is both foolish and dangerous—after all, it is tantamount to playing with other people lives. I believe that no member of the government or Member of Parliament would ever put himself at such risk by appointing an ALS linguist for his/her own court proceedings, whilst abroad—in case he/she could not speak the local language. By “risk,” I mean, for example, that you would hardly be able to get the message across, or your linguist could be a criminal or a terrorist—or your case could be then end up being published on the internet. The best scenario would be that the linguist would fail to turn up.

13. There are huge gaps in the monitoring of the FWA Agreement. In fact it appears as if no-one in MoJ is interested in monitoring this Contract properly. The expenditures spent so far do not appear to be quantified or quantifiable. Most seriously, costs incurred as a result of adjournments and delays caused by poor interpreting are unknown. Bearing in mind all those professionals involved in court proceedings, even a professional interpreter would actually turn out to be the cheapest person in a courtroom. It is undoubtedly a great waste that such huge sums of money are wasted due to the imposition of a Contract which does not fit the needs of the CJS.

14. The Parties involved in this Contract are, so far, facing the following:

MOJ and the CJS are having their services delivered in an inferior manner—they are simply not fit for purpose. Furthermore, both also have to deal with significant criticism and are seeing a considerable waste of public money.

Professional interpreters have lost their livelihoods and are being forced into finding new careers elsewhere.

With ALS being absorbed by Capita, the acquisition of an unprofessional workforce will inevitably bring Capita huge problems in the near future, such as adjournments of several court hearings due to unacceptably poor levels of service, a not inconsiderable barrage of criticism and a significant waste of money.

Mr Gavin Wheeldon is the only winner in this case as he successfully off-loaded an unprofitable company (as it was such even prior to him being awarded the FWA) for quite a huge amount of capital and has left ALS—with a smile! Quite clearly, he had lied to the MOJ and, personally, I cannot believe he is not yet behind bars.

August 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013