Tag Archives: allowance

DWP won’t contact over 100,000 ESA claimants owed millions in compensation

This comes courtesy of Benefits and Work; This Site is just passing it on:

The DWP has refused to follow a recommendation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to contact over 100,000 ESA claimants who are owed compensation totalling many millions for DWP errors. However, one claimant has been awarded £7,500 in compensation and we explain below how you can begin a claim if you were affected.

The issue relates to mistakes made by the DWP which began over a decade ago.

In 2011 the DWP began transferring claimants from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance (ESA). However, in many thousands of cases the DWP only assessed claimants for contribution based ESA and failed to check whether they should also have been awarded income-based ESA.

Eventually, after many complaints and awards to claimants who had missed out, the DWP reluctantly launched a LEAP exercise to identify claimants who had been victims of their error.

This resulted in 118,000 claimants getting backdated awards of ESA, in many cases amounting to thousands of pounds. Others also got awards outside of the LEAP scheme.

However, these claimants were not told that they might also be entitled to special payments because they had missed out on other benefits or undergone hardship as a result of the DWP’s maladministration.

Indeed, the DWP specifically told claimants that they could not complain to the Independent Case Examiner and did not tell them about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

However, one claimant – known as Ms U – had advice from a welfare rights worker. As a result, she did complain the PHSO after the DWP refused to pay her compensation in addition to £19, 832 in backdated ESA.

The PHSO found that Ms U had suffered considerable hardship and her health had suffered as a result of the DWP’s failures. She had also missed out on free prescriptions, warm home discount payments and other help such as paying for a washing machine.

The PHSO recommended that the DWP pay Ms U £7,500 as compensation and also pay interest on the back payment of ESA.

The DWP paid Ms U, but refused to follow another recommendation of the PHSO.

This was that they contact claimants both within the LEAP exercise and outside it who had been given ESA arrears due to their maladministration, look into their circumstances and award them any appropriate compensation.

Instead the DWP argued that: “should a claimant feel that they should receive compensation due to their individual circumstances, they can contact the Department and set out their reasons. All requests received will be considered on a case by case basis.”

The DWP know very well that almost none of the affected claimants will ever discover that they might be entitled to compensation and thus they will never know to ask for it.

In a recently released letter dated 10 May 2022, the PHSO said that they were “extremely disappointed” with the DWP’s decision not to follow their recommendations.

Unfortunately the PHSO has no power to force the DWP to do so.

We know that only a small proportion of Benefits and Work readers will have been affected by this issue.

But if you are one of them, we have a downloadable letter, complete with instructions, that you can use to begin the process of applying for compensation.

It comes with no guarantees that it will work, but waiting for the DWP to act seems to guarantee that you will not get a penny of what you may be owed.

If you are not personally affected but know someone who may be, please send them a link to this article.

And if you regularly post in a forum or belong to a group that might include affected people, again please give them a link to this page.

Who is affected

Affected claimants are those who were transferred from incapacity benefit to ESA, a process that began as far back as 2011, and who later received a lump sum payment of arrears because the DWP had failed to award you income-based ESA as well as contribution-based ESA.

Many claimants who received such a lump sum will have missed out on passporting to other benefits, such as free prescriptions and warm home discount payments.

What you can do

If you think you were affected you can write to the office which administers, or used to administer, your claim for ESA to ask for compensation.

We have created a simple, downloadable letter which you can use as the basis for your own.

We have kept this letter as simple as possible, with instructions for you in italics. If you know the dates of any award of back-dated ESA or the amounts that you may have missed out on then by all means add them. But, at this point, the most important thing is to begin your claim.

If you don’t receive a reply, do as the letter says and make a formal complaint as well as contacting your MP’s office and asking them to pursue the matter

Download the letter in rich text format

Download the letter as a .pdf

You can read the PHSO’s original findings on the case of Ms U here

You can read the correspondence between the PHSO and the DWP here

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Will Sunak bow to pressure over cost of living – or will he stick to doing the wrong thing?

Rishi Sunak: he knows he’s doing wrong but he’s doing it anyway.

With Parliament about to reconvene with a new legislative programme, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to (at last) address the cost-of-living crisis.

The British Chambers of Commerce have called for a three-point plan that would slash VAT on energy bills from 20 per cent to five per cent, offer free Covid tests for companies and the reversing of a recent National Insurance hike.

You can read the rationale for it here.

Sunak is making vague noises about tax cuts – which would be just as well, considering his government has inflicted more tax hikes on the UK’s population than any other in decades.

But he hasn’t actually done anything yet.

Instead, it seems, he’s taking billions from pensioners by freezing something called the Lifetime Allowance for five years.

Confused? So was I. Here‘s the lowdown:

The Lifetime Allowance is currently £1,073,100, which may seem substantial to many.

However, many could find themselves propelled over this sum due to the Chancellor’s decision to freeze the Lifetime Allowance for five years.

It is thought a saver who withdraws cash in a lump sum will lose an extra £180,125 to the taxman by 2025.

The figure represents the tax payable on the difference between the frozen lifetime allowance and the £1.4million had the sum been unfrozen.

Apparently this means he’ll take £6 billion off of people, when he’s being asked to let us keep more.

How is that supposed to help?

Source: Rishi Sunak urged to announce emergency budget as living costs spiral

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Tax-cutting Tories? They’re getting MORE tax from UK citizens after Spring Statement changes

Deceitful: Rishi Sunak said he was cutting tax – but the amount you pay will in fact increase.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak tried to claim he was cutting taxes in his Spring Statement but this is not true.

Because of high inflation and his decision to freeze the income tax personal allowance, more of citizens’ income is taken in tax.

Sunak’s Treasury will take more money from you while the amount you have to spend on necessities like food, rent/mortgage and heating will plummet.

Watch Faisal Islam and Paul Johnson explain it on the BBC’s Politics Live:

Now, what could Sunak possibly want to do with all that cash?

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Secret DWP benefits survey cherry-picks respondents – so it can lay blame on claimants?

Too much Coffey: the Work and Pensions Secretary (right) seems to have commissioned a survey of benefit claimants in order to say their failure to budget properly has put them into hardship – not her insistence on providing starvation-level payments and using the slightest excuse to cut them off. Meanwhile, she parties.

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a secret survey – sent only to specially cherry-picked claimants.

The reason seems to be to blame benefit recipients for any hardship they suffer, claiming that poor budgeting skills are the root of the problem rather than the political decision to fix payments at starvation levels – and then to use the flimsiest excuses to stop them.

The survey asks about debts claimants may have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need. It is the last question that has raised concerns, as Benefits and Work, which hoisted the red flag on this apparent scam, pointed out:

The full question and list of options is as follows:

What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?

  • Help with working out what money I have left to spend each/day/week/month.
  • Advice on how to spread my spending so I don’t run out of money
  • Advice on how to reduce my spending
  • Advice on how to reduce my debt
  • Advice on how to increase my income
  • Help with setting up a direct debit/standing order
  • Help with opening a bank account
  • Other (specify)

In this context, advice to increase my income is most likely to relate to those in employment.  In general claimants cannot increase their income unless there is a benefit they could be claiming that they are not aware of.

What is entirely missing from these options are the ones that would actually make a difference to claimants, such as:

  • Pay benefits at a rate that is enough to live on
  • Remove the 5 week waiting time for UC
  • End the long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs

Because there are no such options, this survey will produce results that say that, of claimants who are in debt:

X% say they need advice on working out what money they have left to spend

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their spending

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their debt

Whilst some people may indeed say in the ‘Other’ box that the help they need is a higher rate of benefits, this will not be listed as a percentage in outcomes as everyone’s answers will be worded differently.

In other words, all the support needs will be around claimants not understanding how to manage their money, rather than it being impossible to manage on the money they receive.

See how it works?

Benefits and Work has made Freedom of Information requests to ask how the claimants taking part in this survey are selected, how many are taking part and whether the results of the report are going to be published.

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the DWP has been stung by having to reveal the findings of its secret report on how people on sickness and disability benefits are struggling with unmet needs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had repeatedly refused to publish the DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee ordered its authors to provide a copy to Parliament. It has now been published.

The report, received by the government in September 2020, stated that many people are using disability benefits such as PIP, which is intended to meet the additional costs of disability, for very basic needs such as food, rent and paying debts:

“The participant had kidney failure, arthritis in his back, legs and arms, depression and bulimia which caused chronic stomach pains. He lived alone in a flat rented from a Housing Association, using Housing Benefit. He was in the ESA Support Group and received PIP. He made monthly repayments for utility bill arrears and had a £5,000 bank loan which he could not afford to repay. His debt repayments meant he could not afford essential day-to-day living needs and used a foodbank. He found it difficult to wash independently due to his arthritis and needed a walk-in shower but could not afford one and seemed unaware that he may be eligible for support through the local authority. He also needed support with cooking and cleaning and received help from a cousin. His cousin would like to claim Carer’s Allowance but neither of them knew how to make an application. He had no other support networks close by.”

It said claimants with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions often struggle even more than those with physical conditions to meet their basic needs:

“Participants with mental health conditions tended to report a wide variety of basic needs, health and care needs and social needs that were unmet. In comparison, those with profound learning disabilities and severe physical disabilities were typically in the group that identified having fewer unmet needs. While the latter group experienced a high level of need across a range of areas, these were usually being met through a combination of local authority support and informal support networks, usually parents who provided a high level of care.”

And the wellbeing of disabled claimants often depends primarily on being in a household in which another member has a well-paid job:

“The participant has recently moved in with her mother and sister, she had previously lived alone in a council-rented flat but had begun to feel isolated and found paying the rent and bills difficult so decided to move in with her mother. She has a range of health conditions and disabilities including Asperger syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, joint stiffness and IBS. She works 28 hours a week and receives PIP. Before moving to live with her mother she was concerned about how her income would cover essential day-to-day living costs. She also struggled with maintaining her personal hygiene and found it difficult to leave the house as she did not like going out alone. Moving in with her mother has helped her to meet all of her health-related needs.”

The reason Coffey and the DWP kept the report secret seems clear when one notes that last October – more than a year after receiving it – the Work and Pensions Secretary was lying to the public about the system it damns.

As Benefits and Work (again) details:

Coffey was telling the Conservative party conference that:

“PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

“. . . people can think the benefit system is fair.

“And I think by being able to target that even more so to people who really need that support, may improve that prospect of public perception.”

Having been forced to release a report that shows – even in its watered-down form – that the benefit system is forcing hardship and related physical and psychological torture on claimants, including those who already have significant mental health problems (leading to a threat to life itself?), it seems Coffey has commissioned this new survey in order to manufacture a false justification for herself.

I think I’ll write her a letter. Let’s see how she justifies this web of deceit.

Source: DWP secret survey set to blame claimants for going cold and hungry

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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No lessons learned – and no compensation for 118,000 benefit claimants who lost out for years

Habitual cruelty: the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions is refusing to pay compensation to sick and disabled benefit claimants who were given the wrong payments after being moved to Employment and Support Allowance.

The injustice affects 118,000 people who should have received payments based on their income but instead received them only based on their National Insurance contributions.

It was revealed in the case of “Mrs U”, whose payments were cut by £80 per week – and stayed that way for five years.

Her payments have since been rectified, and the whole of the underpayment repaid to her – along with £7,500 in compensation ordered by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Now the same ombudsman has protested after the DWP agreed to make back-payments to 118,000 other claimants affected by its error – but not to pay them any compensation.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “We don’t know how many more Ms Us there are out there.

“That is why I urge the DWP to allow people affected to claim for compensation in recognition of its error and the potentially devastating impact it has had on people’s lives.”

The DWP said it will not pay “blanket” compensation to all 118,000 people it wronged.

Instead, it said it will consider claims by people who contact it through various helplines that have been set up – or who go through the department’s labyrinthine complaints process.

It’s not good enough. And This Writer wonders how many people died before they could claim the back-pay or the compensation – or because they did not have this money.

Source: DWP denies compensation to 118,000 benefit claimants who lost out for years – Mirror Online

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Secret #disability #benefits report WILL be published whether #ThereseCoffey likes it or not

Therese Coffey: it seems she’s been too busy having a good time (in line with many of her Cabinet colleagues, we’ve learned) to publish a report on the quality of her work as it relates to people with disabilities who claim benefits.

Tough luck, Therese!

The Tory Work and Pensions Secretary has been sitting on a report on how claimants are affected by the way she runs disability benefits – presumably because it is damning, even though (allegedly) watered-down.

The benefits concerned are those received by people with long-term illnesses and disabilities: Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC).

Well, she won’t be able to warm her backside on it for very much longer because the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, sick of waiting for her to pull her finger out, has given her an ultimatum.

It is: publish the report by January 11 or we will publish it in spite of you.

The report falls within the government’s protocol for publication so there really is no legitimate reason for any delay.

Committee chairman Stephen Timms (Labour) said:

The Secretary of State has consistently failed to give the Committee a good reason why this piece of research should not be made public. She even admits that it falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

The continued refusal to publish the results of the research, as promised to the participants who gave up their time, will do further damage to disabled people’s trust in the Department—which is already in short supply.

The Secretary of State now has a final opportunity to think again and publish the research. If not, the Committee is firmly agreed that we will be left with no choice but to publish the report ourselves.

Source: Coffey ordered to publish secret disability benefits report or MPs will do it for her

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Why IS the #DWP refusing to release report on claimants’ experience of #PIP, #ESA and #UC?

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

The Department for Work and Pensions is stalling for time to bury important information on the way its benefit regime treats recipients – again.

It is now six years since I won my battle for the DWP to honour a Freedom of Information request on the number of people who have died after being denied ESA (thousands within two weeks; they hadn’t bothered to collect information beyond that time limit) – and still its officers obstruct requests.

Currently the DWP is refusing website Benefits and Work‘s request to see a report on 120 claimants’ experiences of receiving Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

The department is also refusing to allow the Commons Work and Pensions committee to see the report, even in complete confidentiality, raising questions over what ministers are trying to hide.

It seems even the interviewees themselves have not been allowed to see the report, which leads This Writer to question whether its information is accurate. Disability News Service has suggested that it isn’t, after being told by a whistleblower that, after the first draft was produced, ministers told the authors to cut the number of references to “unmet needs” and delete some analysis.

I tend to agree with Charlotte Hughes, who reported on this in her blog The Poor Side of Life:

So even the diluted final version of the report is apparently too scandalous to see the light of day.

From years of past experience we know that the DWP don’t put the needs of disabled people first or even anywhere. Their target is to force people into work regardless of them actually being able to do so.

In the past I’ve seen disabled people forced onto Universal Credit by deception and then forced onto DWP courses with the aim of getting them ‘ready’ for work.

We can’t let the government and the DWP get away with ignoring report requests and also implementing rules that are at best cruel.

We need to remember that the government and the DWP are masters of deception and we must continue to see past their lies. There’s more of us than there are of them and I alongside others will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.

Charlotte’s blog runs entirely on donations and if you want to contribute, follow the link to her site and press the “Donate” button.

With the DWP trying to hide a potential harm to people with long-term illnesses or disabilities, or who are unemployed, all social commentary sites have a responsibility to keep the facts of this matter within the public gaze, which is why I am publishing this information.

Please feel free to pass it on to as many people as possible – either by sharing this article or by referring to the information in conversation, should you get the opportunity.

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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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.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Why have the #Tories changed #benefit addresses to block #tracking of correspondence?

The government has changed the address of some Department for Work and Pensions benefits departments so it is now impossible to track correspondence with them.

This is potentially hugely harmful to benefit recipients as they often must rely on tracking information about (for example) items sent by recorded delivery to be able to prove that DWP officers have received them.

We – and I certainly include myself among those who have experienced this – know that items that are not sent so they can be tracked are often “lost” – and, again, I put the word “lost” in quotation marks because my belief is that DWP officials deliberately lose them.

So this…

The new address for Attendance Allowance submissions is “Freepost DWP Attendance Allowance”. No postcode. That is all very well, but a client of mine tried to send an application “recorded delivery” or “signed for” and was told by the Post Office this was not possible without a postcode. My naturally suspicious mind wonders if this is deliberate by the DWP so that people cannot prove that they have had documentation delivered to the DWP.

… suggests to me that the DWP is hoping to “lose” many more items of correspondence in order to cause much more of the kind of frustration that leads to the deaths of benefit claimants.

Has anyone in receipt of other benefits been told they can’t track post any more?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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