The Ministry of Justice and the Big Paperclip Question

06/02/2012 11:24 GMT | Updated 04/04/2012 10:12 BST

My heart bleeds for families who have to deal with the Ministry of Justice, if my experience is anything to go by.

I have tried to submit paperwork to them on three occasions, and each time it has been returned to me with a query. Why can't they pick up the phone and speak to me, as I requested, if there is a problem? Where is the personal touch?

The paperwork, which I posted recorded delivery on Monday, was returned to me again today with a letter saying I had failed to submit a cheque for the £400 required to proceed.

I clearly remember attaching my cheque to my statement with a photocopied exhibit - all of which has also gone missing too as none of this was returned with my other forms which they stuffed in an envelope.

I called their office this morning to ask them to find out what had happened to my cheque. I explained that it was attached to my statement with a paperclip, and I asked their officer, Neil Holman, if he could trace my missing paperwork too.

To my utter amazement, Neil asked me if I had used a large paperclip! Doh! Like they can't see a normal sized one! Would it have made any difference if I had used a 3ins paperclip? What size paperclips do they use in their office? You couldn't make it up!

I spoke to Neil five hours ago and he hasn't called me back. I doubt he will.

I naturally phoned my bank to cancel the cheque, and the episode so amused the person I was speaking to at Barclays that he instantly offered to waive the normal £12 fee as he couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculous question I was asked by the Ministry of Justice about the paperclip. He said it was hilarious and had made his day.

In my view the Ministry of Justice needs a thorough shake up. Isn't there anyone in government who can sort out the mess there?

I would call it a travesty of justice. Feel free to share your experiences.