Delay in decision on ESA deaths – to influence the election?

Is the Information Commissioner delaying a decision on my 'ESA deaths' request because it might influence the general election? If so, why delay that decision in the first place? [Image: BBC]

Is the Information Commissioner delaying a decision on my ‘ESA deaths’ request because it might influence the general election? If so, considering the appeal was made in October, why delay that decision so long in the first place? [Image: BBC]

Readers of this blog may recall that This Writer has been in dispute with the Department for Work and Pensions over its refusal to supply information on the number of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance who have died after making their claim.

The most recent Freedom of Information request was made in May 2014 – nearly a year ago – and was turned down after an illegally-long delay, on grounds that were not acceptable. An appeal was made to the Information Commissioner’s Office in October. That was six and a half months ago.

In March, Yr Obdt Srvt was contacted by the ICO and told a Decision Notice was being drafted and should be with me soon. That was seven weeks ago – nearly two months. Three weeks later, the message was that it was on its intended signatory’s desk, and that person would be reminded of it.

Today – in exasperation – I sent another message to the ICO. This time the question was whether there is a political angle to this delay.

Think about it: It seems most likely that the decision has gone in my favour – otherwise there would be no reason to delay it at all; it could be dispatched and the matter closed (until the inevitable appeal to the Information Tribunal).

But we are now in an election period. The release of potentially-sensitive information about the number of people who died while claiming a state benefit could influence the result of that election – especially if the number of deaths was unreasonably high.

Perhaps the ICO is delaying its decision in the belief that it would be better not to risk such influence. Unfortunately, this won’t wash – it is the ICO’s own tardiness that has created this situation. Would the decision have been delayed in November because of the possibility that it would influence an election? No – or at least it shouldn’t.

If this is information that should be in the public domain – as it seems likely the decision will say – then it should be released, whether it affects the election or not.

The clock is ticking. We’re all waiting.

What’s going on?

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22 thoughts on “Delay in decision on ESA deaths – to influence the election?

  1. Steve Grant

    The whole point of freedom of information is to allow the people to see what is going on in “their” own country.The law should be changed to make disclosure of ALL information to be disclosed not by request but by right and immediately not when it’s politically expedient to do so.When such information is not given then one has to conclude that government has much to hide and therefore guilty of deception.

  2. Shaun Gardner

    Most transparent Government ever. I’m sure Cameron promised us this at the last election. These figures will damn this Coalition to hell when they are finally released. I commend you on your tenacity over the issue Mike. Good luck.

  3. Mr.Angry

    Mike my sincere thanks for your persistence in this matter “We are the most transparent government” another PORKY. This is an outrage they know they have blood on their hands as Andrew Marr put it only recently.

    There is no way they are going to release this information into the public domain before an election. It is my opinion for what is worth that these statistics will be hidden forever just like the information on child abuse cases.

    Those in power change the laws to suit their own agenda and yes they are in breach of the law it’s disgraceful they are there to serve the public.

    I wish you luck in your attempt to get this information and admire your tenacity in doing so.

    It would be a miracle if this came out before the election albeit I doubt it will, they are too evil.

  4. Ignas Bednarczyk

    Months back, I also raised the issue of claimants’ deaths being a factor in the government demographic falsification of ‘Back to work’ statistics. The amount of deaths is considerable due to stress and difficulties, alcohol and drug related accidents and claims due to illness eclipsed because the claimants died of their illnesses. Claimants are the most vulnerable people to ill-health with the aged, are they not?

  5. Susan Pike

    Keep up the good hard work you are doing for us all. This really does need to come out before the election but l know what a battle that would be. I hate the way Cameron and his cronies are so arrogant, everyone has to see them for what they really are and you are doing a brilliant job.

  6. Nick

    there is no way that this document will ever come to light as it is far to toxic and anyone doing so in making it available will more then likely to be found dead themselves

      1. Nick

        indeed this is one of the main reasons in that being sick and disabled makes you most vulnerable as you cant speak out

        we have had many election broadcasts over the past few weeks with many types of audiences and no one has highlighted the pitfalls of being sick or disabled and having to write or talk to the Establishment of their concerns about others who have lost their lives in going through welfare reform

        you would have thought at least one person or someone from the media would have kept the brief on the those that have died and what is to become of their memoriam or are these people never to be mentioned ever again as you would expect if you lived in north Korea

        The uk today is so far off the mark of decency and has been for many years and has become one of the worst countries that I’ve ever known or visited

        i cant express my true feelings but i know i speak worldwide for many who have to live in similar condition’s

        the new government come may will never even aspire to get anywhere near being on what i would call decent or any words like it as the main players are not at a level to be a true leader on any stage much less the world stage

  7. Stephen Bee

    Have you thought about publicising this and requesting to be interviewed on The Daily Politics show..which have been quite scornful of the Tories record of late..might be worth a shot?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Asking to be interviewed on Daily Politics? I didn’t know you could do that!

      1. Stephen Bee

        I don’t know if you can. But unless you ask and use your stats as a well researched and followed blogger…who knows what might be achieved..they can only say ‘no’..they might say yes..:-) Keep up the good work mike…!

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I’ll give the ICO a little more time to respond (until tomorrow) and then see what I can do.

      3. Mike Sivier Post author

        I’ve tried contacting the Guardian about that comment before. Apparently it’s not as free as you might think!
        I don’t mean you have to pay to get in or anything like that – just that they seem choosy about who writes there.

    1. Stephen Bee

      Even if you don’t get on screen mike..the mere fact of drawing the issues over the ICO/Chilcot/Leverson etc..to the attention of the shows editors has to bbe worth a shot…likewise how about Evan Davis on Newsnight or Victoria Derbyshire on ITV..she really goes for the jugular with Tory BS…just my twopennorth) lol

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, it really wouldn’t!
      We discovered they label the requests “vexatious” and refuse them for that reason, two years ago.

Comments are closed.