Was Stephanie Bottrill a victim of corporate manslaughter?


It’s what we all feared, as soon as we found out that people who have been in the same social housing since before 1996 are exempt from the Bedroom Tax:

Stephanie Bottrill, the grandmother who committed suicide because she could not afford to pay the Bedroom Tax, was one of those who should never have been asked to pay.

She took her own life by walking in front of a lorry on the M6 in May last year, just one month after the Bedroom Tax – sometimes called the State Under-Occupation Charge – had been introduced by Iain Duncan Smith. Her rent at the time was £320 per month, some of which was subsidised by Housing Benefit – but the imposition of an extra £80 charge, to come from her own money, was too much for her finances to take.

She left a note to relatives in which she made clear that she had taken her own life – and that she blamed the government.

She had lived in the same Solihull house for the previous 18 years (since 1995). Recent revelations by Joe Halewood at SPeye have shown that this meant she was exempt from paying the charge under the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006.

The government has a duty of care in these matters. It may not impose charges on people who are exempt under legislation that is currently in force, nor may it demand that local authorities should do so. If a person dies as a result of such action, then the government is guilty of a very specific criminal offence.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, an organisation is guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death; and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.

An organisation is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach.

It seems clear – from the suicide note at the very least – that this is an open-and-shut case.

Will we soon see Iain Duncan Smith – or better still, David Cameron – in court?

Vox Political cannot bring you this information without funds.
The site needs YOUR support to continue fighting on this, and other issues.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:


27 thoughts on “Was Stephanie Bottrill a victim of corporate manslaughter?

  1. leonc1963

    Yes yes yes without a doubt Iain Duncan Smith and the rest of his DWP MP’s in there rush to push these policies through have caused mayhem at the DWP and councils around the country as well as harm and death to its own people who it had a duty to protect they should be stripped from Government forthwith and charges brought. Over to you Cameron

  2. joanna

    What about the council tax? people on benefits now have to pay? Wouldn’t that come under the same legislation? I have been living (existing) in my since 1992, then all of a sudden I had to pay £58. I know that doesn’t a lot but to some people on benefits, it is huge!

  3. Joseph Smith

    Question, if enough funds were raised would VP institute legal action? If so how much is needed? And if this is a criminal charge is it possible to make a complaint to the authorities and prefer charges. If money is needed i would willingly contribute. And I’m sure many others would. Let Ian Duncan Smith dismiss this as a stunt by morons.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I think it would be better if someone else did it as I already have the tribunal on the so-called Atos deaths to deal with. Overload one person and that person is less likely to succeed.

      Also, if Stephanie Bottrill’s family launched a case, they would get far more media exposure and be more likely (in my opinion) to succeed.

  4. Pingback: Was Stephanie Bottrill a victim of corporate ma...

  5. malc01m

    Unfortunately, she killed herself, which puts the liability squarely on her own shoulders. If she had died of starvation, then it would be a different matter… By the way, I totally disagree with the government’s policies.

    1. Mike Sivier

      But she blamed the government for putting her in that situation – and, now that we know she was put in it unnecessarily, and would be alive today if that had not happened, it puts a different complexion on the case.

      1. shirleynott

        This is my feeling but it’s a gut feeling & not based on knowledge of corporate manslaughter cases, unfortunately/what evidence would need to be considered & etc. From what Ms Bottrill’s family said at the time/the letter she left and the information now available with regard to the ‘oversight’ t\hat has been made it seems impossible not to view her death in this way. In the same way that extremes of bullying have led to people taking their own lives, though, is it ever the case that cause/effect does lead to someone(s) being charged/prosecuted ? Hate crimes & etc – there’s sometimes murmerings about contributing factors but it might be the case that suicide doesn’t allow for a perpetrator/s to be identified – by definition? And proving what appears to be on one level undeniable cause/effect/error is far more complex in reality – even where the case/dispute involves something far more trivial than someone losing their life – eg.in cases in workplaces which go to tribunal etc.

      2. malc01m

        The fact that it didn’t need to happen is immaterial…whether she became a tenant before or after 1995 , if she had become tenant after 1995 she would still have committed suicide…the government is no less guilty in the latter case. And changing the charge to “contributory” will apply better to other cases of suicide…

      3. Mike Sivier

        I think your first point actually MISSES the point. She was exempt from the bedroom tax because she had been a tenant since before January 1, 1996, therefore she should never have been charged the extra money. If the government had carried out its duty properly, she would not have been charged that money and would not have committed suicide. That’s the issue here – what the government did – not whether she would have committed suicide if she had become a tenant later.

        Adding ‘contributory’ to the charge is unlikely to make that much difference. The question is whether a breach in the government’s duty of care led to a person’s death. In this case, yes it did.

  6. Pingback: Was Stephanie Bottrill a victim of corporate ma...

  7. amnesiaclinic

    There seem to be two issues – does anyone have contact with the family and would they be prepared to take the case on if they knew people were prepared to help with legal fees? Or is there a barrister out there ready to take them on and we could crowd fund him/her?
    I’m in with helping!
    Let’s go!!

  8. Pingback: Bedroom tax – the sham not shame that saw the death of Stephanie Bottrill | Vox Political

  9. Ken Webb

    This not just corporate manslaughter, the perpetrators are starting systematic genocide. People that die due to starvation, hypothermia, suicide etc due to the effects of the welfare reforms will be seen by this government as acceptable losses in their pursuit of dividing the country.

    No blame will be legally attached to them at all.

    1. shirleynott

      or Democide?

      They will (of course) argue that this was not their intention – it was an unfortunate … but not directly linked in any way to government policies – (extremely sad and regrettable) event – in the same way that the use of foodbanks increased exponentially and this is in no way related to ‘welfare reforms’/austerity or the use of so-called sanctions.

  10. Sally-Claire

    The bottom line is – Stephanie Bottrill is dead. Corporate manslaughter even the death penalty or covert culling of the population, it is almost Soylent Green!!! But & it is a BIG BUT what should be done about it? I have been frantically emailing people trying to arrange a protest in London & also a midnight vigil where I live. I cannot do much on my own & everytime I am in meetings discussing issues like this people are right behind me but when action is required I look behind me & there is nobody there. We cannot let Stephanie Bottrill’s death merely pass in to ancient history, the kind that does not even make it in to the history books our grandchildren may one day study long after we are gone. Stephanie’s life was worth more than this. Please arrange vigils in your towns, get the local papers to come along. DO ANYTHING BUT DO SOMETHING.

  11. Laura

    I am disgusted to hear having know the family that Steph’s death could have or should I say should of been avoided !

Comments are closed.