His is a story This Blog has followed since his death was first reported, back in July 2013.
Mr Clapson, a former Lance Corporal in the Royal Signals, died of fatal diabetic ketoacidosis caused by a severe lack of insulin.
He had been unable to keep his insulin at the correct temperature because he was on benefits and these had been sanctioned – meaning he had no money to buy electricity for his fridge.
A post-mortem found that his stomach was completely empty. His sister Gill Thompson said he died with six tea bags, an out-of-date sardine tin and a can of tomato soup to his name – and a pile of CVs next to his body.
The DWP has refused to accept any causal relationship between the withdrawal of benefits and the deaths of claimants – but this may change after Ms Thompson lodged official papers with the Hertfordshire Coroner on October 28, “on the basis that he died an unnatural death due to the imposition and effects of the benefit sanction… in force at the time of his death”.
If it does, it seems likely that coroners across the country may receive many more formal requests for reconsideration of other deaths that took place in similar circumstances.
David Clapson is far from the only person to have died after losing benefits.
Both local coroners and the DWP have managed to turn away such calls – the former most commonly by claiming deaths were from natural causes, while the latter has refused to act on calls to review benefit-related deaths.
But this case could set a precedent that may become impossible to ignore.
No doubt the DWP, the Tory Government and the right-wing media will do their utmost to ensure as few people know about this as possible.
So please tell everybody you know – and tell them to tell everybody they know, too.
It’s time we got to the heart of the benefit death scandal.
The family of David Clapson, the former British soldier who died after his benefits were sanctioned, has formally requested an inquest into his death.
After David died in July 2013, the coroner turned down further investigation and an inquest, ruling that his death was due to natural causes. But, backed by the Daily Mirror, Mrs Thompson has fought for three years for a public investigation.
Leigh Day law firm says there is a “strong public interest” in a fresh investigation because “a benefit sanction arguably played a contributing or causative factor in the death”.
The legal submission to the coroner states: “The role played by the imposition of a benefit sanction in Mr. Clapson’s death, the systems in place to manage the risks posed by benefit sanctions to those who receive them, and the decision-making of DWP staff when imposing benefit sanctions on vulnerable and at-risk individuals, are of wider public importance and are matters of significant public concern.
“These matters have been considered in a number of reviews and reports, which support Ms. Thompson’s submissions on the strong public interest in this case.”
In a letter to David’s MP, the DWP stated they were “aware Mr Clapson was insulin dependent”.
In 2014, Mrs Thompson started a petition with Change.org that gained over 200,000 signatures which helped to secure a Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry in March 2015. However, the Government rejected the Select Committee recommendation that the number of peer reviews into deaths of persons subject to a sanction be made public.
The Government also rejected Ms Thompson’s calls for an Independent Review into David’s death and the deaths of others in similar circumstances and of an independent body to conduct more reviews into the deaths of those in receipt of ‘working-age’ benefits.
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