Category Archives: Death

Tributes pour in for left-wing social media activist Maureen Fitzsimmons

This Writer is one of many who will be mourning the loss of a genuine asset to UK politics today.

Like many, I never met Maureen Fitzsimmons in real life; I only communicated with her on the social media, where her comments were a breath of fresh air amid the murk and miasma of Tory neoliberals and New New Labour backstabbers.

Her tweets enliven many Vox Political articles and much of my Twitter feed.

Tributes have been pouring into Twitter – and if you’re not following any of the accounts below, you should; they all support the kind of sensible politics that Maureen advocated.

Here’s a selection:

The DWP doesn’t want you to see this disability deaths documentary. Please tune in

Make a note in your diary: Channel 4, Friday, December 17 (tomorrow), 7.30pm, Dispatches: The Truth About Disability Benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t want anybody to see it, apparently.

It’s a documentary investigating the unexpected deaths of disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives.

It’s been scheduled at short notice – but the DWP will be taking very careful note of viewing figures for this programme, hoping that it attracts a smaller audience than usual, as this can then be shown as proof that there really isn’t any great public interest in the lives and deaths of benefits claimants.

As the website Benefits and Work states,

If that’s the case, they can carry on denying there’s a problem and keep on covering up the suffering inflicted on disabled claimants by a heartless system.

But the more people who watch the documentary, the harder it will be for the department to brush aside its findings.

And the more likely that others will begin investigating the secrecy surrounding almost everything the DWP does.

Long-term readers of This Site will know that I spent more than two years fighting for the DWP to release up-to-date death statistics on people claiming the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (and its forerunners).

The Information Commissioner’s Office eventually forced the government department to release its figures in August 2015 – but it could only provide those for people who had died within two weeks of having their benefits cancelled as civil servants do not follow up on what happens to people beyond that time.

This means that a lot of information about the fate of claimants whose benefits have been cancelled is hidden from the general public – but the little I was able to secure was damning, as it showed that thousands of people had died for unexplained reasons within the three years covered by my Freedom of Information request.

I would have pursued the matter further but we all know what happened next: I reported on false claims of anti-Semitism against members of the Labour Party and was then accused of anti-Semitism myself. I’ve spent the last five years fighting those falsehoods in one form or another.

So I’m glad that John Pring of the Disability News Service has been pushing matters forward.

It seems he was the one who contacted TV production companies around three years ago (2018?) calling for a documentary to be made, and the Dispatches film will apparently tell the stories of the DWP’s disabled victims.

Benefits and Work quotes Mr Pring as saying:

“Those stories are shocking. What is almost as shocking is that we are still waiting for an in-depth, independent inquiry into DWP’s repeated failures over the last decade – and even earlier than that – to learn from its mistakes and make its assessment system safe. 

“Countless disabled people have died because of that failure. We need an inquiry now.”

The documentary is filmed and presented by disabled film-maker Richard Butchins, who has had personal experience of the DWP’s ways.

Relatives of deceased claimants will be speaking out on television for the first time, to explain how the system contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

And there is testimony from a DWP whistleblower who describes a dismissive and mocking attitude toward claimants among staff at the department.

Allow me to reiterate: the Tory government wants this show to get low viewing figures so it can put out propaganda saying the British public don’t care if a few (hundred)(thousand) cripples croak it after being denied the payments they need to live.

So we need as many people to be told about it as possible.

If you can tell your family and friends, please do. Let’s make sure this is something the Tories can’t lie about.

Source: The Truth About Disability Benefits The DWP Don’t Want You To See

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Did Tory distraction tactics make you lose track of the DWP’s strange plans for sick and disabled people?

Distractions, distractions: the Tories love them and try to cause as many as possible.

Even while the fuss over the Downing Street Christmas party last year is embarrassing for them, it means you may not have noticed other harms they are inflicting on sections of the population.

For example: the Department for Work and Pensions.

1. It seems the government is quietly pushing through proposals to change the assessment of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – the main benefit for people with disabilities – even though it only put them out for consultation a short while ago.

The plans to expand the Special Rules for Terminal Illness and to remove the proposed 18-month minimum award period for people receiving PIP were part of a Health and Disability Green Paper and the government ran a consultation on them that ended on October 11, just two weeks before they appeared in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement as schemes that will definitely go ahead.

The Tory government expects to save £70 million over three years by doing this.

Labour has demanded clarification, smelling another Tory stealth cut. And it is true that the plans will have an impact on people with protected characteristics, so Sunak needs to explain why they are not mentioned in the ‘Impacts on Equalities’ section of the Budget.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the impact in this instance will be a good one.

The proposal is to replace the systems that are being cut with “better triaging of cases and testing a new Severe Disability Group”.

While the DWP has a poor history of doing anything “better”, the plan for a “Severe Disability Group” is now quite well-known and would put people with progressive, lifelong conditions into a group where they would never have to face reassessment for the benefit.

It is entirely possible that the whole of the £70 million projected saving would come from this change. This Site – and others – has spent years pointing out that the DWP spends more on constant reassessments that try to find ways to exclude people with disabilities from the payments that make their life worthwhile than it would if it left them alone.

It may be that the government has actually listened for a change and is doing the right thing for once.

I know – it’s a slim chance. But watch this space.

2. Sadly the reliability of any evidence provided by the DWP on proposed savings comes into serious doubt when one learns that the department withheld evidence that the work capability assessment, used to determine whether people are eligible for sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), was linked to 590 suicides:

Dr Paul Litchfield said: “If I had had that evidence available to me, or indeed been told that it was there – you can only ask for stuff if you know that it exists… I would certainly have looked at it and taken it into consideration.”

The information includes secret DWP reviews into benefit-linked deaths and two reports sent to the DWP by coroners aimed at preventing future deaths of claimants.

The revelation suggests that the DWP deliberately tried to prevent its reviewer from suggesting changes that would have saved lives.

3. Dr Litchfield also criticised the DWP as “odd” because, while it accepted his recommendations on policy, the operation side of the department continually and consistently dragged its feet when he proposed changes:

He said he believed the government department was stalling – waiting for the next review, with a different set of proposals, to come along so it wouldn’t have to change anything.

But how far can we trust him on this?

He said the government should develop a new assessment, based on the discredited biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability. It already is.

This is the idea that the illnesses that prevent people from being able to work are all in the sufferers’ minds, and that they were perfectly capable of having jobs. This in turn led to the “scrounger” and “skiver” lies put about by the Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010-2015.

It is important to remember that these beliefs informed New Labour policy on benefits when that party was in charge of the DWP. Current shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, as Work and Pensions Secretary under Gordon Brown, enforced rules that docked assessment points from amputees if they could lift objects with their stumps, while she said claimants with speech problems who could write a sign would receive no points and deaf claimants who could read such signs would have no points for hearing loss. Anybody with mobility issues would be assessed using “imaginary wheelchairs”. She also removed half the mental health descriptors from the assessment, hugely increasing the possibility of suicides if the benefit was withheld.

Dr Litchfield said a new, independent reassessment of the benefit was long overdue. This Writer agrees – but this gentleman and his ideas should be kept very far away from it.

4. Underlying all of this is the question of whether the DWP has a duty of care to benefit claimants.

The department has denied this for many years, so it was welcome to learn that PIP review Paul Gray believes this duty is implicit in all of its work:

But This Writer strongly disagrees that it is a “learning process”. The UK government has been providing benefits to people for many decades now and should be entirely capable of showing proper care for their well-being.

The fact that thousands – possible tens of thousands or indeed hundreds of thousands – of people have died after being denied DWP benefits suggests that there was a failure of care, and that this was a political decision.

5. What are we to conclude from all of the above?

It can only be that the Department for Work and Pensions is a chaotic dis-organisation that fails to uphold its duties properly, with the result that many thousands of people have died who should have been receiving the benefits, and the respect, that is due to them.

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The #Omicron variant doesn’t mean other #Covid19 strains have gone away. Read and weep

Covid-19: some readers have complained about This Site’s use of a graphic. It’s the one I used at the start and I’m going to carry on using it!

Isn’t it handy that the Tories can distract us all with fears about a new variant of Covid-19?

Isn’t it weird that reporting of Covid-19 generally seems to have fallen off?

But isn’t it also handy that we have people who can provide us with the juice that they’re trying to hide?

So come on, Boris Johnson! On your feet, Sajid Javid!

We want to know why the UK has had two and a half times as many Covid-19 infections as the most heavily-infected European country since your “Freedom Day” farce.

And we’re particularly keen to hear your explanation of why we have had to suffer around double the number of deaths seen in our most terminal neighbours.

(That’s according to Tory government figures which are wrong, mind. The Tories want you to think 145,140 people have died. More accurate ONS data suggests nearly 170,000 people have died. This Writer tends to think even this is a conservative estimate.)

Scientific information suggests the symptoms of Omicron are mild – headaches and tiredness. If that’s true, then I’m not fantastically worried!

Like most of the population, I don’t really want to know about a disease that will make me feel a bit drowsy and headachey. I want to know about the disease that’s likely to kill me.

What really gets my goat is having the facts withheld from me.

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Did refugees who died in Channel include Afghan soldier endangered by UK withdrawal?

Not ‘migrants’ – ‘refugees’, ‘asylum-seekers’ or simply people: and the boat pictured here is much sturdier than the one in which 31 people have died.

Now the Tory government is twice damned over the deaths of 31 refugees while they were trying to cross the Channel to the UK.

It seems one of the people in the boat that sank was an Afghan soldier who had worked with Armed Forces from the UK.

It has been revealed that UK authorities left behind a wealth of information, including the identities of Afghan nationals who worked with them, when they scuttled off like rabbits for the planes out of that country.

Afterwards, it seems, no help has been provided to those people, despite the evidence that their lives are in danger as a result of UK government bungling.

So it’s no wonder if one family had tried to make their own way out to seek asylum – rightly, of course – in the country they had helped:

Sadly, that family ran into the wall of exclusion that has been put up by the same Tory government that had endangered them. Court action has been launched against the Tories over that policy, but too late for these people:

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary whose policy is the basis for the court action, has dutifully expressed her sorrow at the loss of lives, and done… nothing else. This casts doubt upon her sincerity:

And she’s not the only one:

(Labour’s Keir Starmer attacked the Tories, only last week, for failing to block all refugees from getting onto UK shores.)

Of course the Tories and their client journalists are closing ranks. The cover story is that refugees are not safe because they are resorting to people traffickers to smuggle them into the UK, and these criminals are putting them on craft that are deathtraps:

Fine words from Natalie Elphicke, who herself was caught trying to pervert the course of justice by influencing legal proceedings against her husband Charlie. Her punishment was one day’s suspension from Parliament, which is an odd penalty for a criminal offence.

Ms Elphicke was also found to be one of the MPs who have a second job – at the height of the corruption scandal over these forms of employment – and to be a hypocrite who said Marcus Rashford should concentrate on his day job (football) rather than campaign for school children to have decent meals during the Covid pandemic.

In her comments she also ignored the fact that all the legal routes into the UK have been closed by her colleague in the Home Office. And there’s also this:

So the Tory government had closed legal routes into the UK, but if someone manages to get here by other means and then claim asylum, that claim is legal.

Enter Tory journalist Quentin Letts to trot out the lie that these people come to the UK with “expectations” that they can get benefits here, that they can get a job here, and that the UK is “a soft touch”. When he appeared on Good Morning Britain with that nonsense he got short shrift:

Bringing this back to the Afghan soldier who was said to be in the boat: if the claim is true, he wasn’t coming because he thought the UK was “a soft touch”; he was coming because he had been endangered by the UK government – the Tories who are now so desperately trying to justify themselves with lies about criminals and benefits.

Lies told by killers – whether overt or inadvertent. The refugees and asylum-seekers are the innocent and blameless.

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Tragedy in the Channel as 31 PEOPLE die. The real refugee crisis is these deaths


Public figures including Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have rushed to mouth condolences after 31 people, including five women and a girl, died in the English Channel while trying to reach the UK.

It’s sickening hypocrisy from the government that has done its best to ensure that people are more likely to drown than reach our shores.

And what happens if we find evidence that Patel’s Home Office policies contributed to the deaths?

Remember: Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill proposes that anyone arriving in the UK by an illegal route, such as by a small boat across the Channel, could have their claim ruled as inadmissible, receive a jail sentence of up to four years, have no recourse to public funds, and could have their family members barred from joining them, in breach of the UN refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It states that refugees should use safe legal routes – but there are no such routes.

Clause 38 of the Bill potentially criminalises rescuers of asylum seekers if they are deemed to be “facilitating” their arrival in the UK. It has already set Patel at odds with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which has a Royal Charter to rescue anybody facing drowning within UK territorial waters – no matter what their legal status may be.

The Home Office has said the Bill is intended to target “ruthless people smugglers” and organisations like the RNLI – and individuals – would be allowed to continue humanitarian rescue work – but mere assertion doesn’t cut any ice. If so, why amend the law to criminalise all rescues?

Now consider the rhetoric coming from the Tories after today’s tragedy – the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since the International Organisation for Migration started collecting data in 2014.

Boris Johnson said the UK would leave “no stone unturned” to stop human trafficking gangs.

He was trying to justify the unreasonable and potentially fatal policy in his government’s Bill.

As for Priti Patel: It turns out she was told back in November 2019 that her policies were causing asylum-seekers to use more dangerous routes into the UK:

“A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups,” the report said.

She wasn’t interested then – possibly because the report’s advice was to provide more legal routes for asylum-seekers to enter the UK, and to address their reasons for wanting to leave their own lands. She is keen to continue ensuring there are no legal routes.

So Tory policy is to ensure that refugees/asylum seekers have no choice but to use illegal means to arrive in the UK – even if it means they may drown.

They have stoked hatred against these people – who may be fleeing the effects of warfare in their own countries, either caused directly by Western governments like the UK’s Tory administration, or using weapons sold to the combatants by those governments.

And they have falsely claimed there is a refugee crisis in the UK, with the number of refugees spiralling out of control.

Take a look at the graph below. Does it look like the UK has a serious crisis to you?

Oh, and Keir Starmer and his Labour racists aren’t blameless either.

Only last week, Starmer accused the government of failing to do enough to stop crossings: “The home secretary repeatedly says in strong language what she is going to do about the immediate problem and delivers absolutely nothing,” he said.

But it isn’t Starmer’s opponents’ territory; it’s his own because he is as racist as Patel and Johnson.

Given his comments, he should not be allowed to claim any moral high ground if Tory government policy is indeed found to have contributed to this tragedy.

The solution is to open up legal routes into the UK and treat people using them as human beings who deserve to have their reasons for coming here judged fairly. It always was.

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Don’t let Javid gaslight you: the Covid-19 crisis in the UK is worse than ever

Smug: Sajid Javid’s oily grin covers his corruption. He’s lying to you about the spread of Covid-19 across the UK.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is using the UK’s Tory media to lie to you: Covid-19 in the UK is worse than anywhere in Europe.

Their claim that infections and deaths in the UK are lower than numbers in mainland Europe is a lie:

For the proof, This Writer expects you need look no further than your own experiences.

Under lockdown, I did not have any personal friends, family or other connections who contracted the disease.

Since it finished, the number of these acquaintances who have caught it has proliferated. A friend contacted me only yesterday to apologise for being out-of-touch; he had been self-isolating after contracting the disease.

And the presence of one person at a girl’s 16th birthday party has resulted in an outbreak that endangered that icon of This Site, Mrs Mike. Fortunately she has repeatedly tested negative.

I’m sure my experience is not unique.

The simple fact is that the UK’s response to Covid-19 has always been pathetically poor – far behind those of the European nations, and ridiculous in comparison with places like New Zealand.

Tory ministers like Sajid Javid have an interest in gaslighting you into believing the opposite because they have been using the pandemic as cover to milk the public purse dry, handing out hundreds of billions of pounds of public money to their friends and themselves (through shares in firms) on the pretext of buying protective measures but in fact receiving nothing in return.

They know that if the BBC tells you everything is all right here – or at least, better than elsewhere, you’ll probably believe that lie.

Don’t you?

But it is a deadly lie.

People are still dying at a rate of around 200 a day. That’s more than 1,000 every week. Sajid Javid is perfectly happy to oversee this mass slaughter. The dead and dying aren’t his friends and relatives, after all.

He’s banking on you taking in all his lies, saying, “Oh well, I’m all right, Jack!” and carrying on in blithe ignorance of your danger.

How long will you continue to do so?

Until you suddenly stop being all right?

Until you’re taken to hospital, because your vaccine injection has lost its efficacy?

Until you die? By then it will be too late for you – because you let a Tory deceive you with a lie.

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Ambulance crew says people are dying because Tories are defunding & privatising NHS

This is damning – and it confirms what This Writer suggested earlier:

It isn’t sustainable at all, and we know why. Firstly, the Conservatives have withdrawn huge amounts of funding from the National Health Service:

Secondly, much of what little remains is being given to private companies that aim to profit from your illness rather than improving your health. They are making matters worse:

By the way, let’s not hear anything about Covid-19 making matters worse. Those days are long past:

From the graph, it seems 5,000 beds or fewer are taken up with Covid-19 patients.

The real Covid problem, of course, has always been that too many NHS beds have been removed altogether from the service – possibly because of the defunding that created a staff shortage of 100,000?

Sadly the NHS crisis will continue under the Conservatives because they want to privatise health altogether; they don’t see the profit in a healthy nation.

And a Labour government under Keir Starmer won’t help because his policies align with those of the Tories on most issues including this.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Benefits assessor pays off family of dead claimant – is this the new trend?

Death by DWP: Philippa Day.

Is this the new fashion for the Department for Work and Pensions and its privately-hired assessors: pay off the families of people who have died and sweep their cases under the carpet?

Philippa Day is the second deceased benefit claimant this week whose case is being ended with a payment by one of the organisations involved in pushing her to her death.

This time, benefit assessor Capita is paying up in an out-of-court settlement after Ms Day’s family started a lawsuit. In the other case, the DWP itself paid more than £16,000 to family members of another claimant after being ordered to do so by an Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

Coroner Gordon Clows delivered a damning indictment of Capita and the DWP at the inquest into Ms Day’s death in January this year.

He said her mental illness had been “exacerbated” by the way her benefits were processed: “Were it not for this problem, it is not likely that she would have [taken the act which ended her life].”

And he said a lot more. See This Site’s previous article – here – for all the damning details.

Now Capita is paying an undisclosed amount – out of court – meaning there will be no UK court verdict against the organisation or the Department for Work and Pensions to show that they drove a vulnerable woman to her death.

Do you think that is fair? I don’t.

Nor, it seems does solicitor Merry Varney, who acted for the Day family on behalf of law firm Leigh Day.

She said: “Capita has shown acceptance of their failures and a willingness to ensure their mistakes are not repeated, however there remain too many examples of the DWP, which controls the financial circumstances of the majority of people too sick to work, acting inhumanely to those receiving benefits and a continued resistance by the DWP to transparent investigations into benefit related deaths.

“Until the DWP changes its attitude, people like Philippa and her family remain at risk of gross human rights violations and ‘benefit related deaths’ are just another example of preventable deaths of people with disabilities occurring without any proper investigation or scrutiny.”

Somebody needs to take a court case through to the end. Otherwise the DWP and its assessment firms will keep dodging responsibility for the thousands of deaths they are causing.

Source: Capita pays compensation to family of woman who died after benefits cut | Welfare | The Guardian

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Did DWP torture this disabled benefit claimant until he died?

There are many kinds of torture – not just physical but also psychological.

This Writer has to ask whether the Department for Work and Pensions used psychological torture on a disabled benefit claimant by its own failures to carry out its duties properly.

DWP officers had left the claimant to be supported by an elderly, disabled parent – his appointee – who also needed daily carers and meals delivered.

Departmental guidance states that they should have found another appointee – but they did not do so. Why not?

Instead, the claimant’s ESA and PIP were repeatedly stopped due to failure to attend assessments, because letters were sometimes sent to the claimant’s address and sometimes to his parent’s.

The benefits were restarted after interventions – but the DWP has apparently lost the evidence showing why the claims had been restarted.

There are supposed to be safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable benefit claimants but – as we discovered after the death of Jodey Whiting – nothing has been done to encourage officers to follow them.

In this case, the DWP repeatedly failed to follow its own safeguarding procedures, despite the fact that officers knew the claimant was vulnerable.

In addition to physical health problems, this claimant had severe depression. At one point, a sibling contacted the DWP to say that the claimant’s GP had sent them for psychiatric assessment due to a deterioration in their mental health.

The sibling explained that they had been to the claimant’s house and found unopened post and said they weren’t fit for a PIP assessment, but another such interview was arranged – by letter.

The result was predictable: the claimant didn’t answer the door and their PIP was stopped. The same also happened in relation to their ESA claim.

The claimant died – underweight, “unkempt and dirty” – after having been denied ESA for three months and PIP for three weeks.

His parent had been providing cash for food, even though that person had their own care package, meals prepared and carers attending daily.

The claimant’s sibling complained to the DWP and the government department made a payment of ESA arrears and £3,000 of backdated PIP.

Unsatisfied, the sibling took the matter to the Independent Case Examiner, who ruled that a further payment of £10,700 in PIP be paid to the claimant’s estate and a consolatory payment of £2,500 to the family.

And a fat lot of good it dead the deceased man!

But think how much the DWP saved; one-off payments totalling £16,200 – which included arrears, remember – is much less than might have been handed out if the claimant had remained alive.

So I have to ask: did DWP officers deliberately push this claimant to death?

They knew he suffered from severe depression but chose to mess him around.

Brown envelope phobia is a known phenomenon in which depressed people avoid opening letters from the DWP – so they sent him letters that they knew he would never read.

They deliberately failed to find a new appointee, and sent important notifications to the claimant’s former appointee – knowing that he would not be able to read them.

Another known behaviour of depressed benefit claimants is aversion to confrontations with DWP-appointed benefits assessors; they believe (justifiably, as many documented cases show) that they’ll be cheated out of payments.

But these DWP officers still sent an assessor to this claimant’s address anyway. Is it really credible for them to say they did not expect what happened?

Or were they deliberately inflicting psychological torture on a man with severe – mark that: severe – mental health problems?

To This Writer, the evidence is clear: the problem at the DWP is systemic – people there are encouraged to ignore their duty of care to claimants.

But with the Court of Appeal refusing to allow another inquest in the case of Jodey Whiting, it seems impossible to bring the evidence needed to prove it into the light of day.

Is the whole of the UK’s benefit and legal system rigged to push vulnerable people to their deaths and then hide the facts, simply because they happen to be sick and/or have a disability?

Source: Disabled claimant died underweight, ‘unkempt and dirty’ after ESA and PIP wrongly stopped | Disability Rights UK

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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