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#KeirStarmer’s death spiral: he’s denying vital funds to #Labour by banning members on false pretences

Starmer’s hypocrisy: this image was made when Starmer was accusing individual Jews of anti-Semitism. Now he’s attacking organisations that will have Jews in their memberships – and Neil Coyne has called for one Jewish group to be proscribed as well, in an echo of Nazi demands during the Weimar period in Germany.

Boris Johnson’s Tories may be unfit to govern but Keir Starmer’s version of Labour is in no condition to take over as it continues its self-harming course to the political scrapheap.

Starmer’s latest big idea for electoral success is to make Labour even more like the Conservative Party by ending its pretence of being a “broad church”; he wants to ban membership from anyone who claims to be a socialist.

As stated in a previous article, he’s doing this by claiming that socialists – who want self-determination for people of all ethnicities, particularly those that currently suffer persecution – are anti-Semites (because this means they want self-determination for Palestinians who are persecuted by the Israeli government that Starmer smarms up to).

First on the list to get the chop are around 1,000 party members who also belong to Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile and Socialist Action.

Their crimes appear to be claiming that many anti-Semitism allegations, for which Labour members have been suspended or expelled, were blown out of proportion and politically-motivated; welcoming such expelled or suspended members into their own ranks; and demanding the re-admission of Jeremy Corbyn into the Parliamentary Labour Party.

All of these stances may be demonstrably connected to support for Palestinians against Israeli persecution.

Here’s the part that marks Starmer out as an imbecile, though: in cutting members out of the party, he’s cutting off the membership fees that he needs, in order to maintain the machinery he is using to attack them.

As it is – at the same NEC meeting where he will demand the removal of the above-named groups, he will have to propose plans to make around a quarter of Labour Party staff jobless:

Hilariously, the Guardian report tells us that the plan has been devised in a report entitled Organise to Win!

The report states:

Labour’s finances have been hit hard by fighting three general elections in the past six years, as well as a string of costly legal cases, and hopes of a membership bounce after Starmer took over failed to materialise.

The party paid out a six-figure sum a year ago to settle a case brought by seven former employees and a veteran BBC journalist, admitting it defamed them in the aftermath of a Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism.

It doesn’t mention the possibility that Labour had no need to settle, as its legal advisors had told Starmer that the party was likely to win if the case came to court. His decision to capitulate is inexplicable.

And how many other disasters have gone unreported? Labour lost thousands of pounds defending itself in court against This Writer’s case, that the party had broken its own disciplinary rules in order to expel me.

The finding was that the party had not broken its rules, which are extremely vague in respect of what may actually be done – but Labour did appear to have broken the regulations it had in place at the time, in order to justify throwing me out. The court ordered that Labour should not be repaid the thousands of pounds it had spent on the case.

How many other such cases have taken place? What other disputes have eroded the party’s funds?

Remember: Labour became the richest UK political party under Jeremy Corbyn because he inspired hundreds of thousands of people to join up – people Keir Starmer has been desperately trying to throw off since he became leader.

Starmer’s plan, it seems, was to go back to relying on donations from big businesses – the same model as that used by Tony Blair during the ‘New Labour’ period of the mid-1990s to 2015.

But his failure to inspire popular support – because he hasn’t said what he stands for – means businesses aren’t supporting him.

There is only one conclusion to draw:

If he isn’t trying to end his own party, then it is ironic that he might be saved from his own stupidity by NEC members who oppose the proscription plan. The UK’s biggest union, and Labour’s biggest donor – Unite – is against it:

The quoted section in the above tweet is from the Guardian article, again, and states:

Labour’s biggest donor, the Unite trade union, attacked the plans on Monday, saying: “While working-class communities are continuing to bear the brunt of the sickness and employment worries made much worse by Conservative mishandling of the pandemic, Labour is abandoning the field of battle against this government to turn its fire on its members instead.”

The union added that such “acts of political machismo” create a “sense of despair among voters who see a party at perpetual war with itself”.

And NEC members from the left-wing Grassroots Voice organisation also oppose the proscriptions:

The group states:

We believe that asking us to consider this matter … is a continuation of the destructive, factional behaviours from the leadership of the party which have marked the last year.

This isn’t just about the organisations we are being asked to consider… it is about … setting a precedent, proscribing these organisations as a forerunner to proscription of more and more groupings on the left of the party, to ultimately expel large sections of the Labour left and erase the Bennite and other socialist traditions within the party.

Then again,

Starmer has a supportive majority on the NEC, so the plans are expected to be agreed.

If so, then Starmer has stuffed the NEC with drones who are just as stupid as he is and the Labour Party no longer deserves to survive.

So those like Mrs Gee, below, who believe the Left is on a hiding to nothing if it carries on with Labour, may be entirely justified in that view – and, while it may take decades to get a new party up to the popularity Labour achieved under great left-wing leaders like Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson, it may be better to work towards that than to support a lost cause:

Whatever happens, it seems the Labour Party, as run by Keir Starmer, is over.

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As Tory Covid blunders are laid bare, Keir Starmer would rather attack his own party

“Keith”: this is just one comment on the way Starmer treats members of his own party who support the values on which Labour was formed, rather than the twisted parody that he leads.

This is excruciatingly poor behaviour by Keir Starmer.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has caught Covid-19, just days into his new job, and it means PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have to go into self-isolation too – after humiliating themselves with an attempt to avoid it by saying they were on a ‘pilot’ scheme with daily testing.

Covid-19 infection rates are now regularly topping 50,000 a day; around around 50 people are dying of the disease every day as well – but it is against this background that the Tory government is ending social distancing restrictions that have helped ensure more of us don’t catch it!

The Tory plan for another top-down restructuring of the NHS, that will restrict access to vital healthcare services because private companies will be taking your tax money for their profits, is well on its way through Parliament.

Also progressing towards becoming law are oppressive and racist plans to restrict our right to make political protests, arrest members of certain ethnic groups on sight (on the assumption that their existence means they will commit crimes), and force refugees to their deaths rather than allow them into the UK.

What is Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer doing about all this? Nothing. He’s more interested in decimating his own party.

Under Starmer, Labour supports the lifting of social distancing rules – he backed the Tory re-opening of schools to the hilt, remember?

He made only token resistance to the NHS restructuring – and it has been widely speculated that this is because he receives donations from private healthcare. He isn’t interested in protecting your right to protest, either.

As for helping ethnic minorities, as far as Starmer is concerned, almost all of them can go hang. His support for ethnic minorities extends only to those members of the Jewish community who support hard-rightwing Zionists and those of that political shade who inhabit the government of Israel. It seems he is related to such people by marriage.

So, for example, he thinks this is okay:

Also this:

And that is why, instead of attacking the Tories’ many failures, Starmer is planning to purge more than 1,000 members of the Labour Party in the days before Parliament goes into summer recess.

Their crime? Not being right-wing enough to remain in an organisation that still describes itself as a “democratic socialist” party.

So much for Labour’s “broad church”.

According to the Mirror, which seems to be taking his side, he is attacking four groups: Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile and Socialist Action.

Their crimes appear to be claiming that many anti-Semitism allegations, for which Labour members have been suspended or expelled, were blown out of proportion and politically-motivated; welcoming such expelled or suspended members into their own ranks; and demanding the re-admission of Jeremy Corbyn into the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The Mirror quotes one Labour source:

“Under Corbyn those from the far left fringes with poisonous beliefs and warped world-views were welcomed into the party. Keir is right to stamp out anti-Semitism and toxic extremism and get the party back into the decent mainstream of Labour values.”

The mainstream of Labour values – when This Writer was a member – included respecting the right of all ethnicities to self-determination. That includes Palestinians, who have been persecuted, murdered, and forced out of their homes and land by armed Israelis on the orders of a government that enforces racist, apartheid laws – a government that Keir Starmer slavishly supports and endorses.

It is not poisonous to believe that the Israeli government is wrong to murder Palestinian children.

It is poisonous to suggest that people who protest against such murders have “warped world-views”.

But Starmer won’t be concerning himself with the lies put forward by the Mirror‘s source; he agrees with them.

He may even agree with toxic Labour MP Neil Coyle – who has called for the expulsion of Jewish Labour members who do not share Starmer’s extreme – and I mean fanatical – right-wing views of what Israel should be:

There’s no reason to suggest that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) are Communists. Or that any of the organisations Starmer will purge are “poisonous”, “toxic” or “warped”.

But it is easier to persuade doubters with emotive language than it is to actually provide a reasoned argument for the unreasonable thing Starmer is about to do.

Coyle’s tweet is anti-Semitic. JVL argues that the purge of Labour Party members on grounds of anti-Semitism is false – from a Jewish standpoint. Coyle is therefore prejudiced against these Jews because they are Jews, which is the classic definition of anti-Semitism. And Starmer is perfectly happy with that, meaning that he is also an anti-Semite, notwithstanding his familial connections to Judaism.

It’s all about politics, you see.

People who support Palestinians against a brutal hard-right regime that persecutes them are socialists. They want a better deal for everyone, so that people all over the world – including the UK – can live in freedom and be able to pursue their own prosperity without fear. Starmer isn’t interested in any of that.

Starmer’s only interest is in his own prosperity, which he considers to be best pursued by stamping on the faces of those of us who stand for traditional Labour values – the political priorities on which the party was founded, back in 1900.

So he will pretend to be on the side of the Jews – while actually attacking more of them than he supports.

He will pretend to stand up for Labour values – while crossing his fingers behind his back and telling himself that neoliberal “New Labour” (Tory) values are Labour values too.

And he will pretend to be a beacon of decency standing out against the chaos he says was created by his forerunner as Labour leader.

The trouble is, he isn’t any good at the pretence.

We see through him. Don’t we?

Here are a few people who do:

Oh, and if you think I’m exaggerating the toxicity of Labour under Starmer, consider this attack on Owen Jones by a StarmerLabour supporter and former Labour councillor:

Most harmful of all is the fact that Starmer won’t gain anything by this monumental act of Labour Party self-harm – for a simple reason summed up in this tweet:

Damningly, that will be Starmer’s only truthful message.

Source: Keir Starmer set to expel 1,000 far left Labour members in four ‘poisonous’ groups – Mirror Online

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Join the day of protest against Hancock’s NHS privatisation

I found this on my brother Beastrabban’s Weblog and it is well worth passing on to a wider audience:

It seems Matt Hancock and the Tories haven’t given up on their wretched plans to privatise the NHS. The Health Secretary is planning to introduce legislation that will allow private healthcare companies on to the management of NHS organisations. Apparently, this has already happened with Virgin sitting on the board of the NHS in Bath And North-East Somerset. The anti-privatisation organisation We Own It is planning a day of protest against this latest move to break up the health service next Thursday, with symbolic tugs of war taking place between the public and private healthcare companies up and down the country. I got this email from them yesterday.

“Matt Hancock is planning legislation that will let private companies make decisions about our NHS care.

“It’s already starting to creep in – Virgin were given a seat on the new NHS body in Bath and Somerset.

“You can help to stop this in its tracks by making an impression all across the country with a clear image: this is a TUG OF WAR between you and private companies.

“Will you join in the National Day of Action on July 17th and organise a local ‘tug of war’ stunt to say NO to the private takeover of our NHS?

I will join in the National Day of Action

“We think this legislation is coming to parliament quite soon.

“So NOW is the time to get organised.

“By organising an eye-catching ‘tug of war’ stunt, with private companies on one side ❌and US on the other ✊, you’ll be helping to get the news out and show our collective outrage.

“Don’t worry if you’ve never organised an action like this before, we’ve got you covered!

“If you want, you can come to a training session and there’s a step by step here.

“The stunt doesn’t need to be big. It just needs you, a few friends and a rope!

“Will you be part in the National Day of Action on July 17th to stop Virgin making decisions about our health and our NHS?

I’ll take part in the Day of Action

“The government is trying to put on a spin on this bill, saying it will end privatisation, because they know privatisation of our NHS goes down like a lead balloon.

“So it’s VITAL that together we get a huge amount of coverage for the Day of Action.

“Find out more about organising for the day, with our handy step by step!

“We can support you every step of the way.

“What about the rest of the UK? This bill will mean disintegration of our NHS in England. Luckily the rest of the UK is not going ahead with these plans yet.

“But it is not a good sign for the direction of our NHS as a whole, long term.

“We’ll have action for everyone take on July 17th to say no to this private takeover.

“Thank you for being part of this fight. You’re not alone in fighting for our NHS.”

This is a matter very close to the Beast’s heart as he is undergoing treatment for a long-term illness. While he can’t take part himself, he urges the rest of us to do our bit.

Sadly, it seems he has given up on Labour’s Keir Starmer:

“Starmer should be doing this, but like the good Blairite he is, when it come to tackling capitalism he’s nowhere to be seen.”

Source: ‘We Own It’ Planning Day of Protest Against Hancock’s NHS Privatisation | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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#MyLittleCrony: Johnson and Hancock face court for putting their chums in big jobs they can’t do

Grim faces: this is the only shot This Site has handy of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock together, and it shows them getting a tongue-lashing from Chief Medical Office Chris Whitty. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he was angry about them appointing know-nothing bozos they know from “the club” to vital Covid-fighting jobs instead of experts?

It had to happen – and it couldn’t happen at a more appropriate time.

Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock are being taken to court for bypassing normal tendering procedures in order to give important public sector roles to their personal friends.

According to the Huffington Post story, the court case by the Runnymede Trust and the Good Law Project focuses on the Tories appearing to have breached their public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010 by filling senior public sector roles with their mates:

Recruitment without open competition may be indirect discrimination on grounds of, in particular, race and disability, contrary to the landmark equality legislation.

The Tories have a defence against that, which is that the rules were waived under emergency procedures, in order to establish new roles to tackle Covid-19 as quickly and efficiently as possible.

But when you consider the kind of people they appointed – people like Dido Harding and Kate Bingham – it seems there’s a strong argument that they won’t be able to substantiate their claim.

And we know about them! What about all the other contracts these Tories have awarded? The contracts we know nothing about – other than their £4 billion cost – because Boris Johnson hasn’t allowed them to be made public?

What is Johnson hiding?

The Twitterati have made up their own minds already:

Notably:

There appears to be a considerable amount of public support for this legal action against the government. A crowd fundraising effort towards litigation fees titled It’s Time For An End To Cronyism has achieved its £30,000 goal in just 24 hours.

Best thing to come out of it? This:

The extent of the corruption and cronyism this app maps out is horrifying – and all using public money belonging to the people of the UK.

We deserve better – especially when the issue at hand is a global pandemic that is raging through the country, killing our loved ones at the rate of one every three minutes.

This court case cannot start soon enough. The evidence alone should be devastating to Johnson, the Tories … and, of course, their cronies.

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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EU to begin court action after Johnson misses deadline to explain international law breach

Self-satisfied: Boris Johnson sat speechless but smirking when Ed Miliband ripped apart his justifications for breaking his own treaty. Johnson doesn’t care about the law. He doesn’t care about what breaking it will cost because he won’t pay. You will.

The fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to respond to a ‘letter before action’ from the European Union demonstrates Boris Johnson’s contempt for the law – and the reason he should not be a member of Parliament.

Johnson’s Internal Market Bill (which is still not yet a law) breaches his own EU Withdrawal Agreement, that he signed in January.

If made law, the Bill would overrule the withdrawal agreement Johnson signed, by banning border checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain which are set to commence under the agreement from 31 December.

Johnson had signed up to the union’s customs code to get a deal, but now says Britain should be exempt from parts of it.

The European Commission confirmed on Tuesday that the deadline to respond to the letter has now come and gone without a UK response, meaning the court action against the UK will move to the next phase.

Tory government ministers have already admitted in parliament that the bill will break international law, but say the policy is justified because the law would only be broken in a “limited and specific” way.

We’ll see how that argument plays out in court. Badly, This Writer would expect. After all, a burglar breaks the law only in a “limited and specific” way, by breaking into people’s houses and stealing their belongings. If he’s prosecuted for it, he’ll still end up in prison.

To UK readers: how does it feel to be living in a rogue, outlaw state?

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson misses EU deadline to explain breach of international law | The Independent

U-turn and u-turn again as Boris Johnson first agrees, then refuses to meet bereaved Covid campaigners

Coward: Boris Johnson hid in a fridge once to evade difficult questions. Now he is resorting to flat-out lies.

How galling for the 14 million who voted for him to realise that Boris Johnson is such a craven coward.

He can’t even bear to meet people who have lost family members due to his mistakes – so he has made up a succession of reasons not to.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK may not have a snappy name but they do have a good reason for existence – they want an inquiry into the Johnson government’s decisions on the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The organisation wisely distrusts Johnson’s claim that he will hold an inquiry “at the appropriate time” and has already issued a “letter before action”, warning that the group is considering litigation to secure an inquiry.

But a letter before action is not itself litigation.

So when Boris Johnson said, “It turns out that this particular group are currently in litigation with the government. I will certainly meet them once that litigation is concluded,” he was lying.

He had previously promised to meet them.

Perhaps he was hoping that most people would not know enough about court action to tell that he was telling a falsehood in order to run away from the potentially disastrous publicity a meeting would create.

It’s also possible that he was hoping his u-turn would not come to public attention.

This Writer is already on the record as saying it is unlikely an inquiry will take place. Politicians like Johnson say there will be one “at the appropriate time” when a crisis is ongoing and people are demanding it but, the instant the trouble is over, they insist that it would be better to put the matter behind us.

Let’s face it: Johnson is notoriously bad – embarrassing, in fact – when he doesn’t have a script to read out. He may be afraid he’ll say something that may be used against him later.

So he’s running away from a meeting he promised to attend.

And that, dear reader, is the act of a coward.

Source: Coronavirus: Campaigners reject PM’s ‘poor excuse’ for not meeting them – BBC News

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It seems the UK’s Equalities watchdog is a racist organisation. How can we believe its report on Labour?

Chris Williamson: He was subjected to death threats because of the false accusations against him, but the EHRC appears to have attacked him in its report.

A common tactic among right-wingers, when a document is about to be published  or a claim made that attacks them, is to undermine the validity of the issuer of that document in some way beforehand.

We’ve seen that happen many times over the last few years, haven’t we?

Often the critical claims have been proved untrue later. Consider all the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, with the Equality and Human Rights Commission soon to release its report on alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that organisation is being buried under a flood of bad publicity.

But it seems unlikely that these claims will be quite as easy to dismiss.

Here’s Chris Williamson: he was the victim of a huge vilification campaign by many of his colleagues on the Labour benches after he made perfectly reasonable comments about the party’s attitude to anti-Semitism complaints in a speech.

The EHRC report comments on his case, and this means he has been allowed to see it in advance. From his response, it seems clear that the organisation has drawn a false conclusion:

He is right to start crowdfunding now. By the time the report comes out – hopefully – he will have raised the funds he needs and will be able to launch his proceedings immediately.

Clearly, he’s not making a wild accusation; people don’t take others to court frivolously unless they want to be penalised for vexatious litigation (Rachel Riley take note).

It seems the EHRC has already lost any credibility in claims of racism against other people and organisations, though; it has just been revealed that it removed its only black and Muslim commissioners in what the two people involved consider a clear act of racism:

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, who at the time was the only Muslim commissioner and Lord Simon Woolley who was the only black commissioner, both lost their positions in November 2012.

At present, it has no black or Muslim members among its board of ten commissioners, which also includes the chair.

It currently stands accused of not standing up for British Muslims and being too close to the ruling Conservative Party, both claims the EHRC firmly denies.

“We were too loud for what the new coalition government wanted,” Lord Woolley told Newsweek.

“Our job as commissioners was to do exactly what they were supposed to do, to raise the fundamental issues of tackling race inequality in education, in health, in employment, within the criminal justice system and I saw that as my central role, but it was made very quickly aware to me that that strong voice was not wanted.

“They [the government] didn’t want the voices that challenge the big structural inequalities, which of course is the raison d’être of the commission, and then to work out plans to use its powers to demand change.”

Baroness Hussein-Ece said that she too feared that being vocal about issues of race worked against her.

She said: “We were the ones who spoke more about race. Race equality generally was put on the back burner during that period.”

She described the decision not to reappoint herself and Lord Woolley at the time as an “appalling” thing to do.

“We were told to apply for the next term because it’s a four-year term, our performance was deemed good, and that we should reapply,” she said.

“When we did reapply, we were told we weren’t even shortlisted.”

She also said that she was told by the Equalities Office at the time that more commissioners from business backgrounds were desirable.

The revelation – take note that it came out into the open this week, not in 2012 – has sparked a wave of outrage on the social media (and silence in the Tory-supporting, racist mainstream media). Judge for yourself if the comments are valid:

Remember this when the usual screamers start baying about Labour being guilty of anti-Semitism, simply because the EHRC is investigating; when the organisation itself is racist, its pronunciations on discrimination mean nothing.

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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Take part in the online day of action against Universal Credit sanctions

Today – July 1 – conditionality and sanctions return to the UK’s benefit system.

This means the two million people who signed up for Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis will now be expected to show they are looking for work, and will be sanctioned if they fail to do so.

For the first time, they will experience what – for example – people with disabilities have suffered under the Conservatives for the last 10 years.

Some people are about to be rudely awakened from their previous complacency, I reckon!

Perhaps they would like to take part in this national day of action, organised by one of the larger representative organisations for people with disabilities, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) under its banner of the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance (SUCA).

Here’s what they’re about and what you can do:

There is now overwhelming evidence of both the serious harm that the sanctions regime inflicts on the most disadvantaged members of society and the fact that sanctions are punitive and counter-productive to the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.

Join the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance in our demands to:

#EndConditionality

#ScrapSanctions

#NoMoreBenefitDeaths

Ways you can get involved:

  • Get active on social media at 12 lunchtime on 1 July using the above hashtags and directed @DWP @justintomlinson @theresecoffey . You can find a list of findings, facts, stats and links for reference here: https://dpac.uk.net/2020/06/sanctions-findings-facts-stats-and-links/
  •  Write to your MP asking them to put pressure on the government not to restart conditionality and sanctions.
  • We encourage people to write to their MPs.
  • Write to your local paper
  • If you think you may be affected by conditionality restarting and putting your safety at risk because you still need to shield, it may be worth gathering what medical evidence you have (for example if you received a letter or correspondence from the NHS telling you to continue shielding until the end of July) and pro-actively sending it in to your job centre/adding it in to your Universal Credit journal. It is difficult to know what to do given the complete absence of information from the government.

Source: National [online] day of action against sanctions – 1st July – DPAC

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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Family of man who starved to death after losing benefits launches lawsuit against DWP

Errol Graham.

Remember Errol Graham?

He’s the man who starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).

He had failed to attend a work capability assessment so the DWP cut him off without a penny. Assessors did not consider whether his mental health could have been the reason for his lack of response or whether termination of his benefits would put him at risk.

When his body was discovered – by bailiffs trying to take possession of his home after his Housing Benefit was cut off (as a direct result of him losing ESA) it weighed just 4.5 stone.

Now law firm Leigh Day has issued a legal claim against the DWP, on behalf of Mr Graham’s family.

I reproduce Leigh Day’s press release in full below:

The family of Errol Graham, who died after his benefits were stopped, have issued their legal claim against the government, challenging the DWP’s policy for terminating benefits.

The claim has now been issued in the High Court by law firm Leigh Day who represent Alison Turner, the partner of Mr Graham’s son. They now await a decision from the court on permission for the judicial review to proceed.
 
Errol died on 20 June 2018, aged 57. He was found in his flat having starved to death, weighing only four and a half stone. His Employment Support Allowance was stopped by the DWP on 10 October 2017 after he failed to attend a fitness to work assessment and as a result his Housing Benefit was also stopped. The DWP tried to contact Errol by phone and then visited his address but he did not respond. As a result the DWP, in accordance with their policy, terminated his benefits without considering whether his mental health could have been the reason for his lack of response and whether termination of his benefits would put him at risk. Despite his long history of severe mental health issues, no information was ever obtained about his physical or mental health and no effort was made to speak to his GP or family members.
 
In her witness statement given as part of the legal case Alison describes going to Errol’s flat after he died and the indications of his severe mental health problems, including finding teeth that he had pulled out with pliers. There was no food in his flat and he had no credit on his gas or electric meters. A letter was found in his flat that had been addressed but never sent to the DWP that describes his struggles with his mental health and the very low way he was feeling. It pleads with the DWP to “please judge me fairly”.
 
In her legal case Alison argues that the DWP’s policy on terminating benefits is unlawful for a number of reasons including that it may breach articles 2 and/or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which relate to causing serious suffering or death. It is also alleged to be unlawful as it fails to have regard to a claimant’s disability, thereby breaching the Equality Act, and it is inherently unfair as it allows benefits to be terminated with no prior notice to the claimant.  
 
In addition, Alison argues that the DWP is in breach of its duty under the Human Rights Act and common law to independently and effectively investigate Errol’s death. At Errol’s inquest in June 2019 the DWP stated that it was undertaking a ‘safeguarding review’ which would report in Autumn 2019 and result in updated guidance but none of that has happened.  In February 2020 the National Audit Office revealed that there have been a large number of benefit-related suicides. As a result the DWP states that it has conducted internal reviews into those cases and a Serious Case Panel has been established to learn lessons from those systemic concerns, including Errol’s case. However, it is not clear from the information that has been provided by the DWP about the internal reviews and Serious Case Panel how they will feed into improvements to make sure future deaths of vulnerable benefits claimants are prevented. As part of the legal case it is argued that Errol’s family had a legitimate expectation that the safeguarding review would take place, which it did not,  that his family should have been involved in the Serious Case Panel and that it should be open to public scrutiny.
 
Alison said: “The harrowing things I saw when I visited Errol’s flat following his death will always be with me. It was clear he was in extreme mental distress and anguish. It is impossible to see how a policy could be lawful which allows benefits to be withdrawn for people in these circumstances, with no consideration or investigation of their mental health, and the risks that termination would pose.” 

Tessa Gregory, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, added: “Our client is being forced to pursue legal action because the DWP has so far refused to make any real changes to the safeguarding policies which allowed her loved one, Errol, to fall through the safety net with such devastating consequences. Like so many other families affected by benefit related deaths the conduct of the DWP following Errol’s death has had a profound impact on our client and her family.  She has been appalled by the lack of engagement and transparency and hopes this case will make the Government realise that it can no longer ignore bereaved families and it must urgently address their concerns to ensure that the vulnerable are protected.”

Mental Health charity Mind provided a witness statement in support of the case. 

Ayaz Manji, Senior Policy and Campaigns officer at Mind, said: “We regularly hear from people with mental health problems who need support from benefits that the system often works against them, making them more unwell and even suicidal. The devastating death of Errol Graham has once again shown why the system has to change now. We can’t afford to wait for more people to die or come to harm before taking action.
 
“The benefits system should be there to protect us when we need it, but right now too many people are in danger of falling through the net and coming to harm as a result. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must stop cutting off people’s support when they’re too unwell to leave the house, or respond to visits and letters. If the DWP can’t get hold of someone, the onus should be on them to proactively get in touch with local services and emergency contacts, to build a full picture and work to getting the individual the support they need.

“During this uncertain time, it’s crucial people can access benefits easily if they need them. It’s appalling that a lack of basic protections means that people still face the possibility of going without money because they are too unwell to engage with the process. The Government must put this right and take responsibility for making sure that those of us with mental health problems are kept safe, and treated with dignity and respect.”

Source: Family Of Errol Graham Issues Legal Claim Against The DWP

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Lying DWP facing court action over failure to improve safeguarding after claimant deaths


The one organisation in the UK that regularly gets away with forcing innocent people to their deaths may soon have to account for its behaviour in Parliament – and in a court of law.

Sadly the Parliamentary action is unlikely to make any difference at all; MPs have called for accountability far too many times and all Department for Work and Pensions does is utter meaningless promises to improve its procedures. Then it ignores those promises in order to continue persecuting vulnerable benefit claimants.

The current pressure from the Commons Work and Pensions committee follows last week’s adjournment debate on the deaths of claimants including Errol Graham, who starved to death after the DWP cut of his benefits for no good reason.

Committee chairman Stephen Timms has announced that he will question ministers on their department’s refusal to protect people like Mr Graham and the thousands of others who have died as a result of the cruelty imposed on them by the DWP, on the orders of the Tory government.

He said despite scores of internal inquiries into claimant deaths – many of them as a result of suicide – officials were unable to show that they had done anything at all to improve the safeguarding of vulnerable claimants.

“The idea that people are taking their own life as a result of DWP actions is so awful,” Timms said. “It is unacceptable for the DWP to keep obfuscating. It cannot avoid the subject any longer. This is clearly something serious and it needs to engage and resolve it.”

Mr Timms mentioned the National Audit Office (NAO) report showing that, despite reviewing at least 69 suicides that could have been linked to benefit denials over the last six years, the DWP had not acted on any of the recommendations of those reviews.

The figures in the report did not include cases like that of Mr Graham, in which suicide was not the formal cause of death.

Sadly, the Commons committee is all-too-likely to be fobbed off with the usual protestations from DWP ministers – that they are doing something. They – and/or their forerunners – have made such claims before and got away with it.

We may hope that Mr Graham’s family have more luck with their court action against the Department.

They are claiming that the DWP acted against the law by failing to take all reasonable steps to check on the health of a claimant they knew to be highly vulnerable before removing his only source of income.

Family members are also arguing that secretive investigations and reviews being conducted by the DWP into benefit-related deaths are unlawful and must be reformed.

There is also the question of a promise made by a DWP representative at Mr Graham’s inquest, in order to prevent the coroner from writing a ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ report, which would have required the DWP to formally explain what steps it was taking to improve its safeguarding policy.

The DWP’s chief psychologist, David Carew, told coroner Elizabeth Didcock that a safeguarding review would report in the autumn of 2019. He said it would urgently consider measures to protect highly vulnerable claimants at risk of having their benefits cut off, including changing safeguarding guidance to staff.

But no such report has been made. There was no review team, no formal commission to publish a review, and staff have received no changes to their guidance.

In short, it seems Mr Carew misled Her Majesty’s Coroner; he lied.

We may hope that a judge will give appropriate weight to all this information.

There are calls for an independent inquiry, with some MPs suggesting that this may restore confidence in the DWP.

This Writer disagrees. As the Labour Party stated in its election manifesto last year, there is no way to restore confidence in a government department that has deceived MPs, the courts and the public in order to ensure a steady stream of benefit-related deaths.

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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