Was Mark Wood the last stumbling-block for Atos?

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Everybody should know by now that British citizen Mark Wood starved to death four months after a medical assessment by Atos found him fit for work, even though it was only reported widely yesterday.

The ruling on the 44-year-old was made against the advice of his GP and in the knowledge that Mr Wood – who lived in David Cameron’s Witney constituency – had mental health conditions including phobias of food and social situations. He weighed just 5st 8lbs when he died in August last year.

His GP, Nicolas Ward, told an inquest into Mr Wood’s death: “Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”

In a normal society operating under the rule of law, that should be enough to trigger a halt on all work capability assessment medical tests while the entire system is examined with a view to preventing further harm. This was discussed in Parliament last week (read my live blog) but because this was a backbench motion the government has insisted that it only needs to take the unanimous vote in favour of the move as “advisory” – and has done nothing.

That is not good enough for many of us. Samuel Miller, the campaigner who has been trying to bring UK government discrimination against the disabled to the attention of international organisations like the United Nations has already signalled that he will be demanding action.

On Twitter yesterday (February 28), he wrote: “I’ll inform the UN’s human rights office… as well as write the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); a corporate manslaughter investigation into Atos and the DWP needs to be opened.

“I’ll also file a criminal complaint against Atos and the DWP with Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.”

Mr Miller has also been awaiting a ruling from the Information Commissioner on his Freedom of Information request from November 6, 2012, demanding details of post-November 2011 Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimant mortality statistics. The Commission called on the Department for Work and Pensions to come up with a valid reason for its refusal, under the FoI Act and the DWP has failed to provide one so far.

For Mr Miller, the situation has now dragged on far too long. “I’m not going to wait for a ruling from the Information Commissioner’s Office, which I’m unlikely to win. Due to the tragic starvation death of Mark Wood, I’m going to request that the UN’s human rights office obtain a subpoena from the International Criminal Court prosecutor, requiring that the Department for Work and Pensions release the post-November 2011 IB and ESA claimant mortality statistics that I requested on November 6, 2012.”

He is also awaiting the findings of an inquest into the death of Stephanie Bottrill, the Bedroom Tax victim who died when she walked in front of a lorry on a busy motorway, after leaving a note blaming the government. That hearing has not yet taken place.

Samuel Miller has cerebral palsy and lives in Canada, and yet he is willing to do all this to correct injustice in the UK. He puts most of us to shame.

Of course, I am looking forward to my tribunal hearing, in which I hope to trigger the release of those post-November 2011 IB and ESA claimant mortality statistics. If Mr Miller manages it first, then my hearing will focus on why my request for the information was dismissed as “vexatious”, as this has serious implications for any future Freedom of Information requests.

I’d like to hear from others who are doing something about this – even if it only comes down to contacting their MP.

Or do you think this man’s death should be in vain?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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49 Thoughts to “Was Mark Wood the last stumbling-block for Atos?”

  1. Samuel Miller is a hero! I hope he is successful in ALL of his endeavours. This government are WRONG on so many levels.

    1. joanna

      Hear Hear, The person I would like to see in the dock is IDS and then put in a pitch black cell and feed scraps whenever any one can be bothered ( keeping his rich friends away ) It seems that all we are getting from anyone who claims to care is lip service, there is no longer any dignity in life, if there ever was!!!!

      1. Joanna, I could cry at the injustice of it all I really could.
        I am lucky; I am in full time work and in (relatively) good health, but (and this is the important part) I am a caring human being, because in the past, I’ve been at the bottom of the barrel, so I know what it feels like to feel helpless and hopeless, unlike this current shower of sh*t we call a government.
        I console myself that the relentless drip, drip of social media, blogs and protests is slowly bringing these issues to the fore.

  2. Darren

    My tuppence-worth, sent yesterday…

    Prime Minister.

    One of those inconvenient little niggly things called laws, that Psychosmiffy doesn’t believe apply to him, is actually quite relevant in this case, as it has been in very many others involving Atos/OH Hell We’d Better Change Our Name. You might have heard of it – it’s called the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that “a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice”.

    Going by what has been reported, especially the part where the DWP lied to the reporter about taking GP evidence in this case, it is clear that if this law is not enforced, then we can be 100% certain that the UK police services are entirely corrupt and that we should quit funding them with our taxes. The DWP has made a statement in the article that conflicts utterly with the provisions of this law and they have – as the statement was for public consumption – made a false instrument, in this case a public record. That Atos made a false instrument that led directly to this man’s death is also crystal clear.

    What do you intend to do to ensure that the law is properly enforced in the case of this unnecessary death, Prime Minister? Is Mr Wood to become simply another statistic for the DWP to cover up with any ridiculous excuse that they can come up with?

  3. Tony Britton

    Samuel has been rather brilliant in the amount of concern he shows and the effort he puts in to get something done. I really wish that Milband or Reeves would show as much, instead of leaving it for others to sort out, if they shouted out as much as John McDonnell or Dennis Skinner did the other day there could have been a few more deaths prevented too. They are all as culpable as each other on the front benches.
    They should be screaming from the rooftops, embarrassing and shaming Cameron every minute of every day. I despair, I really do.

    1. joanna

      That is all very well but the way the other mps heckle Dennis Skinner, is truly disgusting! And it also proves no matter how loud you shout, some people will never hear it because they have their own agenda’s.

      Off topic though I would love to know what IDS’s reation was to jobmatch automaton, does anyone know?

      1. AM-FM

        At the start he said UJM was going to be like’ a dating agency to match employers and jobseekers’, as if the internet isn’t already a wash with job agencies and fake CV harvesting sites.
        But we all know its just a way for the JC to monitor 7 day a week jobsearch, and sanction.
        You’d think being a gov. site it would be good, but as it’s free to employers to post vacancies, and anyone can pretend to be an employer, it’s full of fake jobs and CV harvesters.
        The latest work on it was/is being done by CH4 news and Ipswich Unemployed Action, a few threads there starting with:

        http://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/universal-jobmatch-and-fake-jobs-on-channel-four-news/

  4. […] Everybody should know by now that British citizen Mark Wood starved to death four months after a medical assessment by Atos found him fit for work, even though it was only reported widely yesterday…  […]

  5. Unfortunately ATOS will be replaced by another outsourced company, probably serco which will be as bad if not worse, because lessons are never learned when it comes to privatising healthcare and benefits.

    1. joanna

      I would have thought G4s as they are running everything else!

  6. Jim

    ATOS is taking over NHSdatacare.com.

  7. well as i have already stated i was most shocked by this news as mark and i look like brothers and i know only to well on how his death came about

    i myself have lived for years under the constant stress of the DWP like most of us have and like in his and my case leads you not to be able to eat properly and that is a life long thing and its about time ATOS and the DWP were prosecuted to prevent this type of mental torture was outlawed

    as for mark dying in the prime ministers Witney constituency – is most shocking and if there was an ounce of decency in him he should resign taking IDS with him

    1. Joseph smith

      Decency? Cameron? Integrity? Not even remotely related!

  8. Reblogged this on Still Oaks and commented:
    This should be front page news on every newspaper and top topic on every TV channel, of course it will not. Much better to lead with David CameMoron giving the Queen a tour of Chequers!

  9. The National ATOS Demo is continuing and another Day will be released soon – More details ASAP x

  10. Jean Casale

    What’s in a ‘stumble’? They brush themselves off. Change their name. Their government will protect them, and give them another contract – with NHS Datacare, and that’s the end of that!

  11. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    I definitely believe that the stress of the Atos interview and the pressure he was under through having his benefits stopped made Mark Wood’s condition worse. Simply signing on for Jobseekers’ Allowance is an ordeal with the bullying attitude of the clerks. I know very many unemployed people, who haven’t signed on because of their attitude. When I did, I used to leave the office angry and extremely upset. Last summer I managed to contract eczema, while on an archaeological dig, and the stress of attending the interviews at the Jobcentre made it much worse. I therefore don’t doubt for a single minute that IDS’ reforms have resulted in the mental deterioration that caused this man’s death.

  12. Cathie Wood

    I am Mark Wood’s sister and I wanted to let you know that now we have the inquest verdict we are working with Oxfordshire Welfare Rights to set up an appeal and try to find out the details of the decision making around my brother’s case. We are also intending to demand a meeting with Mike Penning the disablities minister at the DWP to challenge him on the process and the errors made by ATOS and the DWP. I also intend to visit David Cameron’s constituency surgery as my brother was one of his constituents!
    The positive support we have received from most people has been encouraging so thank you.

    1. Well done for standing up to these people. You are setting an example for others to follow.

    2. God bless you Cathie, sending you a cyber hug and my best wishes X

      1. joanna

        Thank you for your reply, The point I meant to make, is that there was once a aristocratic yet evil woman called Elizabeth Bathory, she starved and tortured about 600 peasant girls, she was stopped when she murdered a more well-off girl. When she was found guilty she was walled up in a room of her castle and fed scraps now and then, she lived only three years in those conditions.
        IDS should suffer something similar, after all, hasn’t he been torturing people with extreme fear of homelessness, hunger and destitution?

    3. Martha

      Cathie, my heart goes out to you and your family I’m really sorry to hear about your brothers tragic case. Are you in contact with DPAC, Black Triangle or We Are Spartacus? I am sure they will want to support you in whatever way they can if they aren’t already. With lots of love to you from a fellow disabled campaigner

    4. beastrabban

      Very best of luck for the appeal and challenging Atos’ decision-makers.

    5. My condolences for your loss Cathie and may fortune be with you in your endeavours to ascertain the truth in this sad incident.

    6. Sincere condolencies to you and your family, Cathie. What happened to you brother has moved many of us. We DO fight to try and stop this happening and your courage to challenge and question what happened WILL help may others. If our page can help you in ANY way let us know. All the very best to you. x

    7. Dear Cathie and family, I am so sorry for loss of your dear brother. I wish you and all your family the strength to get to the bottom this and make those responsible for your brothers death accountable for their actions. Keep well and keep strong we are all behind you, take care x

    8. well done cathie as i have already said i look like your brother so you can imaging the shock my family feels as i myself suffer with the same systems of your brother

      i send you and your family my very sincerest condolences and hope you get the answers that led to your brothers death fully investigated and justice for his premature death

    9. I haven’t yet had the chance to offer you my sincerest condolences for your loss, so please accept them now. I am so pleased to see that you are not taking this laying down; I hope that you find strength and support along the way and that we all find justice for Mark.

      PS petition to try Atos / DWP for corporate manslaughter now stands at 1230 signatures after a day and a half on change.org; I have, and still am contacting MP’s, paralympians disabled media people to try and push it along. but need to stop for a day or two as it is creasing my health at the moment. But I will be back onto it as soon as my body allows.

  13. Knockout, moving and well-researched piece, Mike. Well done.
    They’re all just neolib sociopaths I’m afraid. Our options are fewer with every year.
    http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/the-saturday-essay-the-poverty-of-the-ruling-class-is-the-most-dangerous-inequality-in-the-world/

  14. I would love Samuel Millar to lead ALL of the Atos/DWP victims in a huge en masse case against them. I know nothing about law and don’t know if this is possible but I know it would be easily self -funded because everyone across all of the online groups would dontate towards the costs, as well as their family and friends. Some integrous organisations might sponsor it too.
    Individual victims are too sick/disabled/mentally poorly to be able to cope with taking individual cases to court…but together…I think they could cope…and boy would it be a mighty roar for truth, integrity,equality and justice….

  15. Thomas M

    What company would want to be known as one that starves people to death?

    1. joanna

      Answer: Atos because they have shown time and time again that they have no compassion about anyone and they don’t care!!!!
      I for one would definitely donate to a class action suit. Has anyone tried The Public Interest Lawyers?

    2. Niki

      What government would?

  16. rosemary thomson

    i myself was refused employment and support allowance in 2009 i have a few ailments 1 being fibromyalgia and peripheral and they dont have a cure so every year i become more and more ill and like this person that died i to was almost dead if my husband had not been in the house then i would not be here today

    1. Rosemary: really sorry to read this. You’d be eligible to apply again. A good page for helping you get esa with fibro is the Shropshire ME Group (google them). You can also come to out fb page for support should you need. (Apologies to Mike for spamming his page 😉 )

      1. On the contrary – I often send commenters to Atos Miracles and other help-based pages, so you are welcome to provide useful information here!

      2. rosemary thomson

        its ok mike i cancelled my appeal in 2009 because my husband claimed income support due to the fact that i have dla middle rate care and high rate mobility so at the minute everything is fine thank you

  17. I can’t comment much as I am in tears for this poor man, his family and friends. Whoever thought that this could happen in the UK? Who is next? There seems to be no end in sight.

  18. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    I’m losing hope now…

  19. AM-FM

    Anyone who thinks people should simply “play by the rules” to avoid sanctions, doesn’t realise that’s impossible because they make “the rules” up as they go along.
    ‘Customers’ that I speak to in/from my local JC tell me that there’s some sort of incident there nearly every day – and I’ve seen a couple myself.

    Mike’s probably seen this comment from 13 Feb. on a FB page.(links back to articles here)

    https://welfaretales.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/those-vile-peopple-sitting-in-the-jobcentre-a-few-feet-away-doing-absolutely-nothing/

  20. Joseph smith

    Perhaps more demos against Atos are required

  21. why is IDS still in a job.. i really wish this bloke well in taking this shower to court!!! it’s high time these silver spooned never done a days work in there lives bastards where brought before the courts!!!! how many deaths is that now!! it’s nothing short of mass murder!!!

  22. Larry McCauley

    I hope you don’t mind – but I’d like to just add that I have started a petition on change.org asking the DPP / CPS to prosecute Atos for corporate manslaughter. It’s at:

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/charge-atos-with-corporate-manslaughter-re-the-starvation-of-mark-wood-after-he-was-declared-fit-for-work

    If anyone would like to sign and especially share, that would be fantastic. I know that Samuel Miller is doing the same, but the more pressure, the better. Besides. I have to do something in the face of such inhumanity in our fracturing society.

    Thanks Muchly. Larry

    1. Can you amend it so that the DWP gets prosecuted too? Atos is following DWP orders, remember.

      1. Larry McCauley

        Good point. Will do. Mind you, they are blaming each other big time for everything. The collapse of the working relationship happened last year after the national audit office’s examination of Atos’s reports. But anyways, yes, I will include your suggestion and thank you for your input and support. Much appreciated. I don’t know why I am taking this incident so personally – I’m pretty active politically but this just sticks in my craw like nothing else.

  23. Jude

    Mr Miller, and Mike, have my undying admiration in their attempts to bring this government to justice.

    1. Larry McCauley

      Seconded

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