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This is scandalous on several levels. A government-employed benefit assessment company hired a man to assault the husband of a benefit claimant and then denied responsibility for the injuries that resulted.
Firstly, Independent Assessment Services (you know this company as Atos), hired a “security guard” to remove Keith Langham from an interview about his wife Karen’s PIP assessment after an incident at a previous meeting.
Secondly, this man refused to identify himself, making it possible for his employers to disassociate themselves from him. But then, what would he be doing there, if he wasn’t working for them?
Thirdly, this man committed grievous bodily harm on the 62-year-old grandfather for no readily-apparent reason.
Fourthly, the employers of the “security guard” did disassociate themselves from the offender and allowed him to take the fall for doing exactly what he was hired to do.
Fifthly, why is this matter only being reported now – more than a year after the incident?
Finally, how many other benefit claimants are being greeted with violence?
Atos – or whatever the company is calling itself these days – needs to take responsibility for its decisions.
Chris Bryan would not have been at the Carlisle assessment centre if Atos had not invited him.
Staff there approved of and supported his attack on Mr Langham, and tried to hide the incident on the day – one of the nurses is said to have told Mr Bryan to “get them out through the fire doors”.
Karen Langham had been told by an Atos representative that people like her needed to learn to help themselves, at her previous appointment. It seems clear that Mr Langham had intervened in that interview and it would be worth knowing what happened then.
But all the company had to say afterwards was that Mr Bryan had been removed from duty by its delivery partner and an investigation was taking place.
This is not good enough. It is another example of the persecution of people with disabilities by the Conservative government and its contractors.
Here are details of the story, by the Daily Mirror:
“Keith Langham was left with blood pouring from a head wound after helping wife Karen, 61, with the interview for her Personal Independence Payments. She was told that people like her ‘needed to learn to help themselves’ amid ugly scenes at her first appointment.
“At the second interview, Keith, who is 5ft 5in tall and 10-and-a-half stone, had to be taken to hospital after he was grabbed by powerfully-built six footer Chris Bryan, then aged 30.
“Semi-retired Keith, a services manager said: “He was a very large guy, I would say he was about 6ft 4in tall and 16st, heavily built, shaven headed. He said he was security and we had to leave the building. But he was not wearing any ID.
““I asked who he worked for and he told me he did not have to tell me and we had to leave. We were heading towards the reception when one of the nurses said ‘get them out through the fire doors’.”
“The couple, of Haltwhistle, Northumberland, now realise the second appointment had been ‘flagged’ by the assessors due to problems with their staff at the first interview, and the security guard was brought in as a result.
“Northumbria Police were called to the incident on Aug 18, 2017. Keith was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, where he received seven stitches in the head wound.
“Independent Assessment Services stressed their delivery partner managing the site had immediately removed him from duty and a ‘thorough investigation was conducted’.”
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