Friday, 22 July 2011

A Source Critical Approach of the BDO submission

The transcript from the Scutiny hearing notes:

Managing Director, BDO Alto Limited:
Yes, just to clarify, and it is in our written submission, the material that was leaked to the newspaper was not a BDO work product. I cannot comment on what was leaked to the media. As again we say in our written submission, we provide you with copies of the correspondence with Home Affairs on 5th October 2009. This matter was clearly brought to our attention. We were concerned that anything that was related to our review was finding its way into the national media. As I say, it was not a BDO report. There was not an interim report at that point in time. What appears to have been leaked were, again, some of the early drafts of some of [Police Consultant]'s work. He might want to say something about that.

and later on this is stated about Mick Gradwell leaking information to the press:

Deputy T.M. Pitman:
Just for the record, you are saying he said he did not actually show documents to a journalist. He verbally, because you said he had not shown. That is what you have just said.

Police Consultant:
I cannot remember at this distance to say his exact words. What he says is content. Whether he handed documents or whether he had no idea, I am not sure.

Now the Mail article which had leaked information had quoted sentences that were, word for word, the same as those in the BDO final report. The journalist must have had a very good memory, or recorded text from the leak, because as the Daily Mail has the same sentences as BDO final report - - and the conclusion, not any preliminary material.

The Mail on Sunday has several quotes from the report, and this is the one concluding the section on dog handling:

The auditors' interim report concludes: 'It was an expensive mistake to bring in Mr Grime. It would have been far preferable and much cheaper to have tried to obtain appropriately trained dogs and handlers from UK police forces.'

If you read the conclusions of the segment on Mr Grime in the final BDO report, it matches the two sentences word for word. It says:

'It was an expensive mistake to bring in Mr Grime. It would have been far preferable and much cheaper to have tried to obtain appropriately trained dogs and handlers from UK police forces.'

It is not a paraphrase. From a point of view of historical source criticism, I would say it is impossible for that to not have been in existence when the leak occurs, which means that

(1) either the police consultant's early drafts must have reach the stage of conclusions, and that was assimilated without change into the final BDO report, which seems extraordinary

(2) or that BDO had an interim draft in existence already.

It's not even like the Synoptic gospels, where one source (Mark) gets changed slightly in later gospels. This is 100% match.

Quite frankly, I cannot see any other conclusions possible. It is a pity no one read out the sentences, and asked BDO how this ended up in the final report without change, as it is a conclusion, and hence depends, obviously, on the analysis of expenses done by the auditors which support that conclusion, unless all of that was in the police consultants early draft! In which case, exactly work what did BDO do (and were paid for) on that section? Or did he provide the conclusion, and they did the analysis afterwards?

It does not seem to agree well with the BDO interview (transcript segments above). The Mail calls it "the auditor's interim report", and on the basis of the match, I think "there was not an interim report at that time" seems contradictory. I leave the reader to make their own minds up on the truth of the matter, given the evidence of the sources matching between the leaked sentences and the final BDO report.

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