Tag Archives: Graham

Judicial review over DWP starvation death of Errol Graham has begun

People die because of DWP mistakes: Errol Graham starved to death because the department decided to stop his benefit money. The organisation later – secretly – changed its rules in a bid to avoid humiliation in court.

A judicial review has begun at London’s High Court, to determine whether a DWP decision to stop Errol Graham’s benefits breached government safeguarding policy and led to his death by starvation.

Mr Graham starved to death in June 2018 after his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) payments were terminated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) eight months earlier.

The claim, brought on behalf of the family by Alison Turner (the fiancée of Mr Graham’s son), alleges that the decision to halt Mr Graham’s benefits in 2017 was unlawful and that the DWP’s ESA safeguarding policy on the termination of benefits is still unlawful, despite revisions that were belatedly made following the issuing of these proceedings.

Mr Graham, who suffered severe mental ill-health, was found starved to death aged 57, eight months after his ESA payments and housing benefit payments were halted. He had missed a fitness for work assessment and had not responded when the DWP tried to contact him by phone and in person. The payments were terminated in line with DWP policy, without any effort to contact next of kin or other support services and without considering whether Mr Graham’s known mental health issues could have been the reason for his lack of communication.

When he was found dead, he weighed just four and a half stone.

There was no food in his flat and no credit on his gas or electricity meters. An unsent letter to the DWP was found which pleaded “please judge me fairly”.

Ms Turner is asking the court to give a declaration that the DWP’s decision to disallow Mr Graham’s benefits in October 2017 was unlawful because it was in breach of s.149 Equality Act 2010 and Regulation 24 of Employment Support Allowance Regulations 2008.
She says there were strong indicators that his mental health or disability may have given him good cause for not responding and he was known to have long term depression, and the DWP’s policy should ensure such indicators are identified and considered.
Mind, the leading national mental health charity in England And Wales has submitted evidence in support of Ms Turner’s case and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are formally intervening in support.
Ms Turner said
“The DWP decision to stop paying Errol’s benefits meant that, without money to buy food and to pay for heating and lighting, in the end, he starved to death. Although at first the DWP maintained that their safeguarding policy was lawful, faced with a court case, they have made some changes to the policy.
“But these changes are not enough. It still falls to the vulnerable claimant to make sure the DWP knows why they have good cause not to respond to DWP enquiries. That makes no sense when vulnerable claimants might be too mentally ill to respond. For Errol’s sake, I have to challenge this policy so that other people don’t suffer in the way that he and our family did.”

Her legal representative Tessa Gregory added,

“It cannot be right that it falls to such vulnerable individuals to prove that they had a good cause for not responding and the DWP must require their staff where necessary to make further enquiries before taking the momentous decision of cutting off what is often a person’s only source of income. Unless and until the DWP changes its policies other vulnerable individuals will remain at risk of serious harm or death.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said the charity has heard from many other people who have lost loved ones in similar circumstances.

“Mind provided expert testimony to the hearing based on the views of people with mental health problems who we’re in touch with who have had to endure awful experiences at the hands of a benefits system, which is made needlessly complicated and stressful.
“Change can’t come soon enough. The pandemic has caused devastating financial insecurity, with more people than ever relying on the benefits system to keep them afloat through this difficult period. We want to see a fair and compassionate benefits system.”

The hearing is ongoing and is expected to conclude on January 13.

Source: Court Case Regarding Errol Graham To Be Heard | Leigh Day

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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Alan Moore’s £10k donation shows what humanity should be in the 21st century

Alan Moore: Do not adjust your eyeballs; all is well. Photograph: Kazam Media/REX Shutterstock

Alan Moore: Do not adjust your eyeballs; all is well. Photograph: Kazam Media/REX Shutterstock

Look, buddy, I know about Alan Moore.

I’ve been following the guy since before he was famous – back in the 1970s when he started writing back-up comic strips in Doctor Who Weekly. Oh yes. Even back then, I knew his stuff was great. And I was only 10.

One thing that came through very clearly in his work – particularly the early material – is the way he was able to capture human moments, even in the most whacked-out, surrealist’s dream superhero fantasies; the settings might be bizarre but the characters were people.

In an interview, many years ago, he said: “I think that art has a place in the world, I think it’s important to the world, I think it’s part of the way in which we evolve. I think that cultures evolve as much in response to their art and their dreams and their aspirations as they do to their fears and whatever bullying and intimidation is being heaped on them from outside. There’s very little in current human culture that I place any value on at all, but art is one of the few things that I do value and cherish. I think [it] has an immense importance to the world as it is now and as it hopefully will be in the future.”

Later in the same interview, he added: “There comes a point where if you get serious about your art, if you get serious about the messages you’re putting over, and the way in which you’re putting them over, I think you inevitably come to where you suddenly think… It’s all right using Watchmen as an oblique way of talking about politics and the world condition, but why not just get rid of all these big guys in the funny suits and just talk about it?”

What follows is a near-perfect demonstration of this philosophy in action; a point where Alan Moore stopped using stories to talk about the real world, got down to brass tacks, and did it in a way which is entirely in line with the kind of human behaviour toward others that was exhibited in his works, and that – because of his works – has helped my own philosophy evolve.

You see, it transpires that an old friend of Mr Moore, Graham Cousins, has been fighting the UK’s immigration service for around three years, simply in order to gain admittance into this country for his wife, who is currently forced to live in Mozambique due to the restrictions imposed by the British government.

According to his son Leighton, on the crowdfunding website he put up to help out, the government has been changing the conditions required for Mrs Cousins to be allowed in, apparently to ensure that she never sets foot in the UK. First Mr Cousins had to be earning £18,600 per year. Then he had to have more than £40,000 in his bank account. Now the figure has been upped to £62,500 – and it is to help reach such savings that Leighton started the crowdfunding site.

In response, Alan Moore has publicly donated £10,000 – the full amount requested on the site – in what is quite literally a bid for justice.

The accompanying letter makes his reasoning crystal clear:


He states in his covering letter: “I am led to ask if the official cash amount demanded of those making an appeal is, simply, ‘more than they can afford’?… If the basis for this is not racism, would somebody be kind enough to explain what this reasoning is actually based on?”

Maybe This Writer is blinded by personal regard for a literary hero, but this is exactly what I would do for any of my friends, if I were in a position to help, if the action publicised an injustice and if it was likely to help end it.

I wish more people would do the same.

But then, I’ve been reading the works of Alan Moore since I was 10 years old.