Distortion With Prejudice: Will we get some FACTS from the Department for Work and Pensions - or just more spin and spiel?

The death of Jacqueline Harris is another suicide we can lay firmly at the door of the Department for Work and Pensions.

This poor woman, a former nurse who suffered chronic pain in her back after an accident at work, in her hand after a dog bite, and partial blindness due to a head injury, took her life after the DWP axed her incapacity benefit after a one-question work capability assessment. The question? “Can you get on a bus?”

The coroner’s verdict was suicide but we should all know that she would not have taken her life if her Atos assessor and the DWP had recognised the seriousness of her condition. They may well suggest that Ms Harris had mental instability that led her to suicide – shouldn’t the assessor have identified that?

Responsibility clearly lies with the Atos assessor, with the company that employed this person, with the DWP for distributing the (clearly inadequate) rules they followed and with the government ministers who approved and enforced those rules.

The charge should be corporate manslaughter and the evidence is irrefutable. Here’s the Western Daily Press report to prove it:

A half-blind widow racked with pain took a fatal cocktail of drugs after a controversial fitness test ruled her OK to work and her incapacity benefit was axed.

Former nurse Jacqueline Harris, 53, pinned a suicide note to her pyjamas and left post-it notes on her belongings saying who should get them after her death.

Despite being in constant agony she was declared fit to work after a cursory check by ATOS, the Government-appointed benefits assessors.

Speaking at the time of her death, her sister Christine [Norman] said during this ‘two-minute’ hearing in August 2012 she was asked only one question – whether she could catch a bus – and her incapacity benefit was scrapped.

Devastated Jacqueline pleaded with the government workers, explaining she was waiting for a complex operation, but she was ignored.

Her sister added: “She knew she wasn’t going to get any help. She was waiting for a review date for an appeal. I knew she wasn’t going to wait till this date.”

Christine said: “Her life really had no meaning. She just could not cope with the pain.

“Everything was an effort and she was in serious pain.

 “She detested her existence. Disempowered, she wanted to die.”
A statement from Atos passed the buck onto the DWP. Responsibility lies with everybody involved in the chain of events that led to Ms Harris’s death.
Perhaps someone should organise a funeral parade past Caxton House, with coffins representing all the known DWP-related suicides since 2010, one of them might get the point. But even this is doubtful.
When will these people get justice?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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