The Court of Appeal may schedule a hearing on the Rachel Riley libel case before May 28, after a judge said it should be treated with some urgency.
The case is in a “listings window” that lasts all the way up to November 10 – which is a long wait – so the direction is probably to be welcomed, if I can make sure I have all my arguments ready by then.
As stated in a previous update, the court has approved my application to appeal against the High Court’s decision to strike out my defence against Riley’s accusation of libel – but only with regard to my defence that I published my article in the public interest.
The next step is for Riley to file a respondent’s notice and skeleton argument – an optional procedure that allows her to claim that Mrs Justice Collins Rice, in the High Court, could have decided to strike out this defence on the basis of other reasons than those she gave.
It seems the alternative is to argue that the decision she provided on January 20 was correct.
She will make her arguments known in due course. In the meantime, my job is still to make sure that the defence is properly funded. Please:
Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.
Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.
Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.
On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the CrowdJustice site.
Having won a temporary reprieve, I cannot afford to be complacent.
The focus may be on legal arguments, but Riley can still price me out of justice if I fail to produce the required legal fees.
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.
Daniel Kawczynski: He really wants sovereignty for the UK but seems to have a problem understanding what sovereignty means.
So here’s Daniel Kawczynski: A confirmed Brextremist, he is dead set on the UK regaining its sovereignty on March 29 and making decisions for itself, rather than relying on any of the nations in the European Union.
And here’s the same Daniel Kawczynski – Polish-born Tory MP for Shrewsbury – proudly telling us he’s relying on the Polish Government to impose its will on the UK by preventing us from extending the date of Brexit to a later date; if the UK approves an extension, the EU would have to approve it too – otherwise it couldn’t happen. Here he is:
Any attempts by Remainer MPs to delay or obstruct #Brexit must be opposed. Today I have formally asked Polish Government to veto any motions by EU to allow extension of Article 50. We are leaving 11pm on March 29th as promised @StandUp4Brexit
It’s great to see such a complete absence of self-awareness, isn’t it?
Even better to see so many people enjoying it too. Here‘s Daisy Ecksamania: “This is actively encouraging a foreign power to interfere in UK national affairs, which I would say is tantamount to treason @metpoliceuk@GCHQ”
I love this one – Dr Karen QueueJumper Schafheutle: “Working with a foreign government to subvert the will of the UK parliament. And you put it in a tweet.”
Mike Vine: “We are now at the point where a serving MP openly boasts about working with a foreign government (a pretty extreme right wing one at that) against the interests of this country! Surely there must a word for such activities with associated legal sanctions!”
“The Amazin’ Chris Graylin'” had a new perspective: “Good plan. Could we reach out to France, Germany, Italy, etc as well. In fact, perhaps we could formalise this reaching out with some sort of permanent agreement that all the Euro countries agree to help each other out. Will put it to the PM, this could be a winner.”
London John told us all why he thinks Mr Kawczynski is keen on hard Brexit:
Lest we forget why Daniel is so gung-ho about a hard Brexit, It looks like it’s because he can make lots and lots of money from it along with Arron Banks. A true man of the people. pic.twitter.com/XFfdqIBjfe
… and Huw Peach told us what happened when he told the public about it: “After I posted the same Private Eye article last summer, Mr Kawczynski asked by DM for my phone no, called me up & shouted at me for about 20 minutes, saying I was bringing politics into the gutter & that I was responsible for him being attacked in #Shrewsbury”
(I’m not giving out my own phone number but I can’t wait for that call. I only hope I’m quick enough to be able to record it all!)
The worst of it is, he clearly doesn’t even understand how he has brought all this ridicule on himself. But we’re back to the self-awareness thing again.
And this is how Brexit happened: Complete lack of self-awareness by Tories.
Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.
Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.
This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.
The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.
Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.
The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.
This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.
You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.
Iain Duncan Smith started writing his letter without a leg to stand on. Here it is – read it for yourself and see if you have any sympathy for his attitude.
Note that he admits the DWP has a “duty of care” to benefit claimants. It has taken years to get him to admit this and it will be very important if – for example – corporate manslaughter charges arise in the future.
Where he says the report’s authors admitted there was no evidence of a “causal link” between the WCA and suicide, he is of course being disingenuous. Iain Duncan Smith would not be satisfied with any evidence other than coroners’ findings that all 590 suicides mentioned by the report were attributed by the perpetrators to the work capability assessment. That was never going to happen.
But the report did examine other causes and eliminated them. While it states there is no direct evidence of a causal link between the WCA and suicide, the deaths certainly aren’t linked to any other cause.
Note also, Duncan Smith’s claim that the lack of a causal link was not reported in the media is not true.
The comment that there is no evidence the people with mental health problems underwent a WCA is covered in This Blog’s follow-up article, but for clarity I’ll repeat it here:
“Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) told This Writer that… the DWP’s response ‘reflects a basic misunderstanding of how you do this sort of analysis! Looking at WCA cases would be precisely wrong. You need to be able to control for selection – to do that here, [you] need to look at [the] whole population.
“’Let’s try [an] example. Does Coke make you fat? You can’t just look at people who drink coke & ask if they’re fatter, but if in areas where Coke [is]cheap, [and] people [are] on average fatter, *controlling for everything else*, that does tell you something.’
“So, in order to ensure that the correct cause is ascribed to any particular effect, those who carried out the study had to examine the health of the population as a whole, and eliminate elements that could relate to everybody, rather than just those who took the work capability assessment. They needed to rule out “unobserved confounding” – unseen elements contributing to the results.”
And that is precisely what they did.
Duncan Smith’s assertion that being sent back to work can “promote and protect health, and also reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence” is only accurate if the person doing the work is healthy enough for it – and, by definition, may not be applied to those whose mental ill-health has driven them to suicide.
Inaccurate WCA findings that claimants are “fit for work” or may be “fit for work” within a year of their assessment also mean that many ESA claimants will be sent back into the job market before they are healthy enough. In these cases, there can only be one result: Being sent back to work will make their health worse.
Of course it will; there is a reason they stopped working and claimed ESA in the first place. If that reason still applies, then sending them back to work can only have one result.
Anyone wanting to suggest that a large number of ESA claimants are committing fraud in order to avoid work should remind themselves of the facts: While a TUC survey has shown people think 27 per cent of the ‘welfare’ budget is claimed fraudulently, the government’s own figure is just 0.7 per cent. For ESA claimants it reduces even further, to 0.4 per cent. That’s one person out of 250, rather than roughly one in four – a big difference, especially when one considers the effect on their health of sending an ill person back to work prematurely, as Iain Duncan Smith appears to be advocating.
And then there is this:
The handwriting is appalling so This Writer will try to translate: “NB: There are some out there in the media and social media who have used raw figures to accuse the govt of outrageous [sic] action. I would hope that the committee would not seek to follow suit. I note that having introduced the ESA and the WCA, the Labour Party now seeks to attack it as though they had nothing to do with it. Surely the committee should seek to recognise the good intent of those engaged in this difficult area.”
Those engaged in this area have no good intent whatsoever – let’s get that clear from the start. Their intentions are well-covered in previous articles on This Blog, which I will forward to Frank Field and his committee.
As for “some out there in the media and social media who… accuse the government of outrageous action” – I think he means me.
How nice to have official recognition and how clever of him to describe his own behaviour accurately.
Outrageous action? That’s exactly right.
Iain Duncan Smith’s department practises ‘chequebook euthanasia’ – WCA assessors use psychological ‘nudge’ techniques to push the mentally-ill towards suicide in order to reduce the “burden” on society caused by these “useless eaters”.
Even Frank Field – chairman of the work and pensions committee who contacted Iain Duncan Smith over the Oxford University and Liverpool University allegations – has raised concerns about this behaviour:
It is outrageous.
Even more outrageous is the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is trying to deny it.
The callousness of Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions hit a new low this week when it was revealed that officials have been asking terminally ill benefit claimants when they expect to die – including those who don’t know death is inevitable.
Frank Field, the new chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, started his tenure incisively when he demanded an explanation from the Gentleman Ranker.
He said he had seen evidence of two such cases in his own constituency and added “I dread to think how often this is happening around the country.”
The DWP’s response – not Duncan Smith’s; he’s nowhere in sight – has been to deny everything (of course): “Claims from people with a terminal illness are fast-tracked using ‘special rules’, where we pay the highest rate of care immediately without a face-to-face assessment.
“All claims are dealt with fairly, sensitively and compassionately by specially trained staff – they do not ask specifics around life expectancy.”
It just doesn’t ring true, does it?
Here’s the background information, courtesy of The Guardian: Individuals claiming for a personal independence payment (PIP) under the “special rules terminally ill” procedure submit DS 1500 forms signed by their doctor – forms that need to be signed if the patient is regarded as suffering from a terminal illness.
“The DS 1500 asks for factual information and does not require the doctor to give a prognosis. It should contain details of the diagnosis, including whether the patient is aware of their condition and, if unaware, the name and address of the patient’s representative.
“It should also set out the current and proposed treatment, and brief details of clinical findings. A doctor is expected to believe that the patient is likely to die within six months, but once the form is submitted the Department for Work and Pensions decision-makers are not expected to challenge a patient about the expected date of death, or question a patient who is not aware the doctor has declared their illness to be terminal.
“The claimant, once found by the doctor to be terminally ill, is not supposed to meet any qualifying period for a claim”, and should get the highest rate of payment.
Clearly, if the DWP is questioning people in the date they expect to be dead, this may include those who have not been told they are going to die.
“In one case my constituent’s mother was asked by when she expected her daughter to die and in front of her daughter,” said Mr Field.
“This has left my constituents feeling understandably very upset. They tell me they are appalled by the hardness of the questioning and its intrusiveness.”
He has demanded a copy of the guidance that could have led PIP assessors to think this line of questioning was legitimate.
This Writer thinks he may be in for a long wait.
Is this yet another example of the DWP’s secret ‘chequebook euthanasia’ policy – asking questions that ‘nudge’ claimants towards death in order to clear them off the books sooner and make an early benefit saving?
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