Fresh application lodged for second Jodey Whiting inquest. What does the DWP have to hide?

Death by DWP: Jodey Whiting.

A second application has been lodged for permission to appeal against a decision not to allow a second inquest into the death of Jodey Whiting.

Mother Joy Dove has made the application after an earlier attempt was refused by the High Court on October 11.

The High Court had previously found that new evidence that had been discovered since the first inquest did not require a fresh inquest to be held in the interests of justice.

Ms Whiting died in February 2017 after the DWP withdrew her benefits for not attending a Work Capability Assessment.

At the time of the assessment, she was housebound with pneumonia after having been in hospital, and had found out that she had a cyst on the brain.

The permission to appeal application is brought on the grounds the High Court was wrong in that finding, and that it was also wrong to find that Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, the right to life, was not engaged by the circumstances of Ms Whiting’s death.

Ms Dove said:

“It seems to me that there were obvious failings in the way the DWP treated Jodey, which were proved and documented by the Independent Case Examiner, and it is ridiculous that this has not been fully and publicly investigated.

“How can lessons be learned, and future tragedies prevented, if no one examines this properly?”

Merry Varney, of law firm Leigh Day added:

“The possible link between the DWP making repeated errors in the handling of Jodey’s welfare benefits claim shortly before her death, which left her without income, housing benefit and council tax benefit, and her death has never been publicly investigated.

“Having obtained the Attorney-General’s permission to apply to the High Court for a second inquest, it is disappointing the High Court rejected our client’s application on all grounds and we hope the Court of Appeal will allow her the opportunity to overturn this decision.”

Ms Whiting took her own life on February 21, 2017, after being told that her Employment and Support Allowance payments would stop, along with associated Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit payments, because she had not attended a work capability assessment.

Ms Varney, commenting on the case earlier, had said: “Jodey had requested a home visit for the WCA as she rarely left the house because of her severely poor health. She suffered multiple physical and mental health difficulties, took 23 tablets a day and was entirely dependent on welfare benefits.

“She had made in clear in her request for a home WCA that she had “suicidal thoughts a lot of the time and could not cope with work or looking for work”.

“After Jodey’s death, an inquest was held three months later, 24 May, 2017, which lasted less than an hour. The coroner declined to consider the potential role of the DWP and their acts or omissions in Jodey’s death. Jodey’s family were unrepresented and were unaware that they may have been entitled to publicly funded legal representation.

“After the inquest a report by an Independent Case Examiner concluded that the DWP had made multiple significant errors in how it treated Jodey. Some of the failings had not been known to Jodey’s family, who were horrified to learn how many failings had occurred in the handling of Jodey’s benefits.

“The opinion of an independent Consultant psychiatrist, sought by Jodey’s family, confirmed that the DWP’s failings would probably have had a substantial effect on Jodey’s mental state at the time she took her own life.

“Joy argues that the manner in which Jodey was treated by the DWP, and in particular the withdrawal of her ESA, caused or materially contributed to her death and that, had this not occurred, Jodey’s death would not have occurred when it did.”

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