Justice CommitteeSupplementary written evidence from Brooke Townsley, Senior Lecturer Interpreting and Translation, Middlesex University

I write to correct what appears to have been a misunderstanding of the written evidence I supplied to the Select Committee prior to the commencement of the hearings. In the final paragraph of the statement I supplied then, on 9th October 2012, I stated the following:

“Working with ALS proved to be difficult. Middlesex University decided to terminate the agreement with ALS dated 10th October 2011; on the 3rd January 2012 Middlesex University and ALS formally agreed to suspend their relationship under that agreement and the final signature from ALS on the agreement to suspect the relationship was received on 17 February 2012. ALS did receive a EULA from Middlesex University to use the software designed for the quality check process themselves and carry out their own assessments in house. This EULA was signed and returned by ALS on 1 March 2012”.

I note from the recordings of the hearing that this appears to have been misconstrued by the panel, who stated:

“The date that we have is that the decision by Middlesex to terminate the agreement with your then company was 10 October 2011, and then it was on 3 January 2012 that your former company and Middlesex agreed to suspend their relationship under that agreement, with a final signature on that agreement to suspend being received from your former company on 17 February.”

I’d like to clarify that the contract was dated 10 October 2011, not the decision to terminate. The contract was finally signed and officially started on 10 October 2011. The final signature on the agreement to terminate the contract was indeed received on 17 February 2012. As I have shown in a previous submission, however, the problems with ALS that led to the termination of the contract started earlier.

I’d like to add a further clarification regarding the advice I gave to ALS regarding their proposed tiering system for interpreters.

On 20 January 2011, I attended the offices of ALS in Oldham by invitation as a consultant from Middlesex University. I was at the offices for, I would estimate, about 4 hours. I was briefly introduced to Mr Gavin Wheeldon by Mr David Joseph, who had invited me to come to ALS and collected me at the station. Mr Jopseh and I then retired to a private room to work. I would note that Mr Wheeldon was not present during my working meeting with Mr Joseph nor at any other meetings I attended between ALS and Middlesex University.

My brief for the consultancy visit was to inspect and comment on ALS plans for the screening of interpreters and their interpreting skills. During this visit, I was asked for my evaluation of their plans for a three tier system for interpreters. I made it clear to Mr David Joseph that I did not think the three tier system was appropriate or functional. I gave my reasons for this view. I was told by him that a tiered system for interpreters was required by the MoJ and that it was non-negotiable. Having understood that, I then suggested, in that case, that the least worst option would be a two tier system based on a pass in oral AND written components of the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), or a pass in the oral components of the DPSI exam only. Regarding the proposed Tier 3, I made it clear that, in my opinion, it was a nonsense and should not be instituted.

I would like to point out that the meeting in January was the sum total of my “consultancy” work for ALS. When they later approached Middlesex University in the summer of 2011 for help with the design of an interpreter assessment system, the agreement made for work to be carried out was between Middlesex University and ALS, not with me as a consultant or otherwise. I was the member of Middlesex University staff tasked with carrying out the technical side of the work the University undertook to perform; other aspects of the contract were dealt with by other University staff. Nor was I being paid any fees by ALS, contrary to what might be inferred from comments I gather were made to the Committee.

November 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013