Government should face corporate manslaughter charge after suicide verdict on Stephanie Bottrill

Victim of government persecution: A coroner has agreed that government pressure drove Stephanie Bottrill to suicide.

Victim of government persecution: A coroner has agreed that government pressure drove Stephanie Bottrill to suicide.

It’s official – stress and pressure caused by the Bedroom Tax pushed grandmother Stephanie Bottrill into taking her own life.

Zafar Siddique, coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said he was “satisfied she intended to take her own life” after hearing evidence that Mrs Bottrill had blamed the government’s Bedroom Tax policy for pushing her to suicide in a note she left at her Meriden Drive, Kingshurst, home before walking across the M6 motorway into a collision with a lorry early on May 4, 2013.

The coroner also heard evidence from Dr Bindu Nair, who saw the former postal worker the day before her death after Mrs Bottrill’s daughter-in-law, concerned for her safety, made an appointment.

Dr Nair said Mrs Bottrill had “expressed unhappiness at being pushed by the housing department to make a decision, in half an hour, in reference to being made to move into a smaller property”.

He added that Ms Bottrill was “happy to move but it was the way in which she was forced to make a decision” which had caused her “considerable anxiety and stress”.

Unmentioned in the report is the fact that Mrs Bottrill was found to be exempt from the Bedroom Tax (also called the State Under-Occupation Charge) under the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006, because she had been living at her address since before January 1996.

The implications for the government are enormous.

A British court has accepted that a government policy pushed a UK citizen into ending her life.

Organisations including government departments are guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way in which their 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.

The pressure placed on Mrs Bottrill, according to the evidence of her own doctor, caused “considerable anxiety and stress” that contributed to her decision to commit suicide.

It seems clear that the Department for Work and Pensions – as the organisation responsible for both the Bedroom Tax and the pressure placed on Mrs Bottrill by housing officers – must now face criminal charges under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

As far as this blog is concerned, responsibility for this woman’s death lies firmly with Iain Duncan Smith.

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  1. Samuel Miller August 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Only the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) can recommend a corporate manslaughter charge, so public pressure must be directed at Alison Saunders.

  2. hayley bull August 13, 2014 at 8:35 am - Reply

    I feel so sorry for Stephanie, I know just how she felt I was force to make a decision and was moved out of my disabled adapted home into a smaller house with no adaptations and is water metered and more in council tax. Then I had to go to a atos appointment an then dropped my care level and put me on esa, since this I’ve really struggled and have also tried to take my own life four times an ended up on life support twice. I didnt want or mean to have a brain haemorrhage at 30.

  3. Ginny N Bruce August 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    But you must admit as do I, that you made the lifestyle choice to have a brain haemorrhage at 30, in the same way as I made the lifestyle choice to have multiple heart attacks from the age of 45. You as I could have saved the taxpayer by carrying on working and probably dying by doing so. Not only would that have saved the taxpayer having to pay our ESA & DLA/PIP, the money paid towards our pensions could have been used to give more tax breaks to the top earners who bother to pay tax. If only we, and others like us, were not so selfish as to be sick or disabled, there would be far more money for the 1 per cent [sic].

    • Mike Sivier August 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Hmm. If Mrs Mike ever heard anyone saying being sick and/or disabled was a lifestyle choice, I think she’d probably make another lifestyle choice – to become a murderer. In fact, I fear for my own life, should she ever see that I have been entertaining such notions here!

  4. Ginny N Bruce August 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Not to worry though, we’ll soon have assisted dying. So us types can stop being a burden on the taxpayer (obviously ignoring the fact that we all have and continue to pay tax). We must never forget the T4 programme (for those who have or didn’t even know what it was Google it). Just don’t let IDS remember it.

  5. Lynn Dye August 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Mike, I was so pleased to read of this verdict here yesterday. However, when I found the BBC version of the story, I was appalled. Is this a cover-up? It seems that her brother is trying to blame his late sister, and the article has a different slant accordingly.

    • Mike Sivier August 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Yes there was considerable discussion of this on Twitter and it seems that, either he is a Tory, or he has been ‘nobbled’ somehow in order to get him to say these things.
      Her son told a very different story at the time of the collision.

  6. Lynn Dye August 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Such a shame. It makes me wonder whether the victims will ever get justice while this so-called government assumes itself above the law.

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