Police Scotland has refused to investigate Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling in relation to the deaths of Paul Donnachie and David Barr – without providing any explanation.
Police Scotland, having said it would investigate with regard to Ms DE – if her identity was revealed, has refused to say whether it asked the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (the organisation responsible for keeping her identity secret) for her details in order to launch such an investigation.
It looks like a big stitch-up to protect the former DWP ministers, doesn’t it?
Experience suggests that, if there were good reasons not to investigate, those would be at the top of a press release by the police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal (COPF) and the MWCS.
But there hasn’t been a press release. There haven’t been any reasons to announce.
Without any stated reasons for their decisions, what conclusion may the public reach?
There can only be one: That the allegations have weight, but the organisations involved are deliberately failing to do their duty in order to protect the former DWP ministers.
Or have I missed something?
Feel free to contact This Blog, if you can see an explanation for this result that actually makes sense.
Scottish criminal justice agencies have rejected pleas to investigate the failure of two ministers to improve the safety of the government’s “fitness for work” test, despite evidence that their actions caused the deaths of at least three benefit claimants.
Police Scotland was asked in March to investigate allegations of “wilful neglect of duty” by former Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling.
A dossier containing details of the deaths of three benefit claimants with experience of mental distress was passed to Police Scotland by the Scottish grassroots campaign network Black Triangle.
The three claimants – Paul Donnachie, David Barr, and a woman known only as Ms D E – took their own lives in 2015, 2013 and 2011 as a result of grave flaws in the work capability assessment (WCA).
These flaws mirrored those uncovered by a coroner in January 2010, following the suicide of Stephen Carré, and passed to DWP in a prevention of future deaths report just a few weeks before Duncan Smith (pictured at this year’s Tory conference) and Grayling took up their new posts following the May 2010 general election.
But nine months after Black Triangle passed the dossier to Police Scotland, the force appears to have done little to investigate the allegations, other than consulting with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal (COPF), the Scottish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service.
This week, Edinburgh police confirmed that it would be taking no further action on the David Barr case, while COPF said that it had also decided that no further action should be taken on the Paul Donnachie case.
Police Scotland said that COPF had already decided that there was no link between DWP’s decision to find David Barr fit for work – following a 35-minute assessment by a physiotherapist – and his decision to take his own life a month after being told by DWP he was not eligible for employment and support allowance (ESA).
Police Scotland has previously said it would only look at the Ms D E case if Black Triangle or Disability News Service were able to pass on her personal details.
But those details have never been made public, as her death was the subject of a report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS), which treated her case anonymously and concluded that she killed herself after being told she was not eligible for ESA.
The report linked her death to DWP’s failure to obtain medical evidence about her mental health from the professionals who had treated her, just as the coroner had done in the case of Stephen Carré.
This week, MWCS declined to comment when asked if Police Scotland had requested Ms D E’s details, stating that it was “for Police Scotland to respond to your request related to any investigation”.
Police Scotland and COPF had both refused by 11am today (Thursday) to say whether they had attempted to contact MWCS since receiving the Black Triangle dossier in March.
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