I am clear that the overwhelming majority of Panel members, all volunteers, where they are properly trained and given appropriate legal advice by clerks where necessary, do an excellent job and are to be applauded for this, as any other system is unlikely to consider the special circumstances of families so fairly.
However, I monitor appeals across Kent and Medway, and a small minority of Panels fall way below the norm standard, when the ombudsman stands as a guardian (if frustratingly slow!) over these standards. Of course, the typical Panel member conducting his or her affairs according to the rules would be completely unaware of any of this.
Yes, I did raise the issue of Skinners and responded with some examples of fault when asked, to confirm my concerns were not merely sour grapes. However, ombudsman rules have a level of privilege that allows criticism to be made that should not be made in a public forum.
Panel member, please don't take offence, and keep up the good work, from your views you will never be criticised in this way.
I am aware that you do this public service for no reward and I have no wish to decry it.