Tag Archives: judicial

What happened to the £3 billion Johnson paid for ‘missing’ Covid-19 contracts?

Spaffer: Boris Johnson has thrown billions at private consultants and contractors – but now it’s time to show where the money has gone, and it seems he can’t.

This is what comes of spaffing public money indiscriminately to your Tory mates and getting nothing back in return!

A cross-party consortium of Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs have filed for a judicial review after the Johnson government failed to disclose details of £3 billion worth of Covid-related contracts.

These will be contracts made under the emergency system in which private firms are not invited to tender; instead, Johnson and his cronies have been shovelling money to their Tory mates, to provide multi-million pound services using start-up firms or companies that have been as good as dead for years.

Last month the Department of Health said £11 billion of contracts had been agreed between April 1 and September 7 – mostly related to Covid-19.

But analysis of publicly-available contracts information showed less than £8 billion of contracts awarded by the government.

It seems the government is taking 72 days on average to publish contract details online – despite a legal duty to do so within 30 days.

So the question arises: what are Johnson and his cronies trying to hide?

The Department of Health and Social Care has said it is committed to transparency and is working through its backlog of contracts with a view to publishing them “in due course”.

Is that after they’ve been doctored to remove any evidence of foul play?

It’s a reasonable question to ask, in the circumstances.

It’s incredible that Johnson, Matt Hancock and their buddies have splurged our money away in such a cavalier manner – and what have we got to show for it?

This Writer would like to see a full audit of all £11 billion worth of contracts, with details of whether they were honoured in an acceptable manner.

I think the result of such an audit could be highly embarrassing for Spaffer Johnson.

Source: Tories face legal challenge over £3bn of ‘missing’ coronavirus contracts – Mirror Online

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We knew the Tories’ inquiry into court challenges of their decisions would be corrupt; this just proves it

Lord Faulks: He thinks a Tory government should be above the rule of law.

Typical Tories – they won’t keep their promise to test people in care homes, but they will keep one to stop us making a fuss about it.

I refer to the promise on page 48 of the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto. You know the one: “We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”

It seems reasonable but actually means: We will impose a Conservative dictatorship that the courts cannot stop from acting illegally.

A judicial review stopped Johnson’s illegal prorogation of Parliament last autumn and showed the nation what a rancid liar he is.

Sadly, too many people were happier to believe a lot of lies about Jeremy Corbyn and voted him back into power last December with a whopping great 80-strong majority in the House of Commons.

So now he’s getting round to ensuring that the courts will not be allowed to examine his government’s decisions on the Covid-19 crisis, by opening an inquiry into court challenges against his decisions – headed by a former Tory minister who has already indicated he wants to gag the courts:

Basically, he thinks a Tory government should be above the rule of law. The Nazis felt the same way about their government in Germany, I believe.

This Writer is willing to bet the judiciary will be tied up in all the red tape that David Cameron said he’d eliminate 10 years ago, by the time anyone gets around to an inquiry into what the Tories did during the Covid crisis.

Such an inquiry has already been demanded, by the way. Johnson said it wasn’t the time for that kind of investigation.

You see how this is working for him – and against the rest of us, and democracy?

Source: Judicial review: Labour query independence of government probe – BBC News

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This grandmother DIED weighing just three stone because the Tories LIED about reviewing benefits for the terminally ill

Christine McCluskey: when she died, after your Tory government cut her benefits, she weighed just three stone.

Christine McCluskey did not have to die in the humiliating way your Conservative government demanded.

The 61-year-old grandmother had suffered long-term health problems most of her adult life including Crohn’s disease – which left her with a colostomy bag – osteoporosis, arthritis, a stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This housebound lady had a feeding tube and a painful fistula that leaked through her abdominal wall, she was severely malnourished and was being investigated for a worrying cough at the time the Department for Work and Pensions assessed her for Personal Independence Payment.

The decision: her payments of £117.85 per week were removed and her mobility car was taken away from her.

Weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer but her payments were not restored. She died four months after her benefits were stopped, weighing just three stone.

She was unable to receive fast-track access to PIP that is available for people with terminal illnesses who have less than six months to live, because she was unable to show when she was likely to die.

But doesn’t her case, along with those of Stephen Smith and Errol Graham, show that – deprived of benefits – people definitely will die within the six months stipulated?

The matter is even worse, though: The Tory government promised to review its six-month rule more than a year ago – and then forgot about it.

In the time since then, it is believed that more than 3,000 people have died in similar ways to Ms McCluskey while the Tories sat on their thumbs.

Earlier this month, motor neurone disease sufferer Lorraine Cox won a court case demanding a judicial review of the rules that demand only people with certain illnesses, who can prove they will die within six months, may claim PIP on the fast-track system.

So the Tories will have to go to court and defend their decision (albeit by omission) to cause these thousands of deaths.

Or will they just quietly announce a rule change between now and the hearing, as they have with the safeguarding rules that failed Errol Graham?

Whatever happens, it seems a rule change will happen. If so, This Writer hopes the families of the deceased – likely to number more than 20,000 over the last six years – demand compensation through the courts.

More than 300 are already doing this over a change in Universal Credit rules, after the system that deprived people of benefit because they were paid on different dates at the end of each month was condemned as “irrational” by the Court of Appeal.

Will the Tories care?

That is a good question, that cuts to the heart of Conservative policy on benefits.

It has been argued that the benefit system is heartless and kills people because the Tories want to save money and don’t care if people die as a result.

But their system of constant review and persecution is actually more expensive than simply paying the benefits – especially when one adds in the cost of appeals by all the claimants who have been denied benefits under false pretences, and now the cost of compensation claims.

Current Tory measures have done nothing to reduce benefit fraud, which remains a miniscule proportion of all claims.

So it seems we should ask the question nobody seems willing to ask:

Did the Tories impose these rules simply because they wanted to kill vulnerable people?

Source: Grandmother, 61, with terminal cancer died weighing three stone after DWP stopped her benefits

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Did Tory-run DWP change rules on cancelling benefits to avoid humiliation in court?

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions has quietly changed its rules on stopping benefits of vulnerable claimants – after relatives of a man who died of starvation won the right to have a judicial review.

Relatives of Errol Graham were granted permission for a judicial review of DWP policies after the department failed to review and revise them itself, following his death.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Solicitors Leigh Day, acting for Mr Graham’s family, revealed they had won the right to have a judicial review last week.

And on Tuesday – the day before Parliament rose for the summer recess – the DWP told Parliament’s Work and Pensions committee that it had changed the rules.

Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield said: “If we tried all of that [contacting the claimant by phone and carrying out two safeguarding visits] we would then take that back and have a case conference about the individual and particularly, obviously if it’s someone with vulnerabilities that we know about, then we would seek to involve other organisations that might have a different way of knowing about that individual.

“And then we would seek to understand what do they know about that individual and how can we support them.

“And if that fails that could then be escalated to the safeguarding leads. And in that way basically what we’d seek to do is provide support not removal of benefits.”

Do you believe that?

Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day seems sceptical, still: “Today’s announcement that the procedures have changed is news to us and news to our client.

“Whilst we cautiously welcome the announcement, it is imperative that the Secretary of State publishes the relevant guidance immediately so that our client and the public can see whether it actually requires decision makers to liaise with different agencies in cases like Errol’s and whether enough has been done to ensure that the vulnerable are adequately protected.”

This Writer thinks the best way to achieve that aim is to go ahead with the judicial review. Why were these changes only brought in when the Tory government was facing humiliation in court?

Source: DWP chiefs quietly change rule on stopping benefits after man starved to death – Mirror Online

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Court showdown for DWP over Errol Graham – who starved to death after his benefits were axed

Errol Graham: he starved to death after the Department for Work and Pensions cut off his benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will have to answer questions in court about the legality of its safeguarding policies after a family challenged it over the death of a vulnerable man.

The DWP ignored its own safeguarding advice to deprive Errol Graham of his benefits, This Site reported previously.

Left with no income, Mr Graham starved to death.

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though.

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

Not only that, but the DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

Because he had lost his entitlement to ESA, Mr Graham’s housing benefit was also stopped.

When bailiffs knocked down his front door to evict him on June 20, 2018, they found a dead body that weighed just four and a half stone. The only food in the flat was a couple of out-of-date tins of fish.

Mr Graham was 57 years old.

Now, solicitors Leigh Day tell us:

“Mr Graham’s son’s partner, Alison Turner, has been granted permission to a full judicial review challenging the legality of the current safeguarding policies and the failure of the DWP to review and revise those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.

“Alison will argue that the safeguarding policies are unlawful as they create a significant risk of breaching the human rights of vulnerable individuals like Errol and she will seek a declaration that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, has unlawfully breached her legitimate expectation that a review would be carried out resulting in revised policies.

“Following the Court Order the DWP now has 35 days to serve her Detailed Grounds and Evidence defending the safeguarding policies and explaining why Ms Coffey has not reviewed and amended those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.”

Yes, there was an inquest – at which the Assistant Coroner decided not to write a “Regulation 28” report demanding changes to DWP safeguarding procedures to “prevent future deaths” because the DWP claimed it was already completing a review of its safeguarding, which was supposed to finish last autumn.

No such review has ever seen the light of day.

The court has ordered that a two-day hearing be listed to consider the case.

Ms Turner said: “Errol had a long history of serious mental illness which left him severely incapacitated. When the circumstances of his death came to light we had hoped – and from what the DWP stated at the inquest, we had expected – that the department would review their safeguarding policies and involve us in that review.

“But, incredibly, that has not happened. We deserve answers and those answers need to be public for the sake of other families and other vulnerable benefits claimants who suffer similar mental health difficulties.

“No one else should be put at risk in the same way Errol was because adequate safeguarding measures are not in place.”

Ms Turner is represented by Tessa Gregory, who said: “Our client believes that the DWP’s current safeguarding policies are not fit for purpose as they expose vulnerable individuals to a significant risk of harm, as was so tragically illustrated by Errol’s death.

“The DWP committed at Errol’s inquest to reviewing the applicable policies but two years after his death and one year after the inquest, nothing has changed.

“Our client therefore feels she has been left with no option but to bring these proceedings to … force the Secretary of State to take steps to ensure that no other families have to suffer in the terrible way her family has.”

Source: Family Of Errol Graham Granted Permission For Judicial Review Against DWP

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‘Overwhelming majority’ of rapists going free because of collapse in prosecutions

The “overwhelming majority” of rapists are walking free because of a collapse in prosecutions in England and Wales, campaigners have warned.

Only 1.5 per cent of almost 55,300 rapes recorded by police in 2019 saw a suspect charged, down from 7 per cent four years before.

An alliance of women’s groups attempted to launch a legal challenge accusing the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of changing its practices,  but were refused permission by the High Court in March.

On Tuesday, they published testimonies from complainants, statistical analysis, a CPS whistleblower’s allegations and other evidence from the case.

Some of these testimonies need to be read to be believed. Try this:

A woman who alleged that a man had raped her at gunpoint was told in a CPS letter that the weapon “was not a serious threat” during the alleged attack, and that the man may have thought she consented.

Who wrote that? They should go into the dock alongside the alleged rapist, as an accessory to the crime.

In a separate case, a gay woman who said she was raped by a man was accused of “engaging with the defendant” before the attack. Charges against a suspect, who was caught on CCTV, were dropped.

So there’s video evidence against this person but they weren’t charged because someone said the victim “engaged” with them. What does that even mean?

The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) has accused the CPS of dropping a “merits-based approach” credited with increasing the number of rape prosecutions, but officials said they had not.

The High Court refused permission for a judicial review of the plummeting prosecutions, saw EVAW has appealed, and has raised more than £80,000 via crowdfunding to back the action.

That seems like an appeal worth supporting.

Here’s the web address.

Source: ‘Overwhelming majority’ of rapists going free because of collapse in prosecutions, campaigners warn | The Independent

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How do you remove disabled people’s legitimacy as citizens? Remove their access to politics

Disabled former Labour election candidate Emily Brothers has launched a judicial review against the Conservative government’s decision to freeze the Access to Elected Office fund to create a ‘level playing field’ between able-bodied and non-able-bodied candidates.

Ms Brothers was the 2015 general election Labour candidate for Sutton and Cheam and for the Greater London Assembly in 2016. She serves on the Executive of the Fabian Society, Disability Labour and LGBT Labour.

This Writer has long believed that the Conservatives not only don’t want the non-able-bodied to take part in politics; they want to eliminate people with disabilities from society altogether.

The fact that this fund has been in limbo since 2015 tends to support my claim, wouldn’t you agree?

Here’s what Ms Brothers has to say:

It isn’t our impairments that disable us, but how society fails to include us.

That’s evidentially true in education, employment, transport and so on. Politics is no different from other spheres of life, as the system places barriers that disable us.

That’s why I have commenced judicial review proceedings against the Government.

Working across parties with the More United campaign, we placed this legal challenge to address the Government’s failure to evaluate and restore the Access to Elected Office Fund. The purpose of the £2.6 million Fund was to create a ‘level playing field’ between able-bodied and non-able-bodied candidates. It ran from 2012 to 2015, but was frozen and put under ‘review’.

The scheme provided funding to disabled people like myself, to meet the extra costs incurred by disability. It enabled us to contest selections and elections more fairly. The cost of standing for election is prohibitive for many, but for disabled people standing for election can be significantly higher.

The representation of disabled people in public and political life is woeful. Just five members of parliament openly identify as a disabled person. This falls well short of a representative proportion of the population which would look closer to 120 seats in the House of Commons.

Together with Liberal Democrat claimant, David Buxton, and Green claimant, Simeon Hart, I am calling on the Government to complete and publish the review of the Fund and re-open it without further delay.

Source: The government is removing disabled people’s access to politics by stealth | Left Foot Forward


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Stephen Hawking will finally have a chance to debate health privatisation with Jeremy Hunt – in COURT

Worn down: The Health Secretary has faced a barrage of criticism over the performance of the NHS during the winter [Image: PA].

Will Professor Hawking take the opportunity to make a few of the points that Ralf Little has, in his Twitter dialogues with Mr Hunt, I wonder?

It would be a hard blow for the Health Secretary, who has sidestepped attempts to get him to account for his failures – which are legion – online, only to have to provide evidence about them in a court of law.

Whatever happens, this will be humiliation for Hunt – and it can’t come soon enough.

Professor Stephen Hawking has won permission to take Jeremy Hunt and NHS England to court over controversial proposals to restructure the health service.

Mr Hunt has tabled a plan which could allow commercial companies to run health and social services across a whole region in what critics have described as allowing back-door privatisation.

Leading healthcare professionals and Professor Hawking have argued an act of parliament is required, allowing MPs and Lords to scrutinise the proposals, before the policy is implemented and any changes to regulations are made.

Lawyers from the Department of Health and NHS England have rejected these claims but a court has now ruled that a full judicial review will be granted to determine the lawfulness of Mr Hunt’s proposals.

Source: Stephen Hawking and leading doctors taking Jeremy Hunt to court over NHS ‘back door privatisation’


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Court to decide whether Tories’ £1 billion deal with DUP was bribery

Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, in London in June [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the courts have come out in favour of the Tories in unlikely situations before.

This Writer hopes Labour Party lawyers are paying close attention because any future Labour government may be asked to legislate against the possibility of a corrupt deal of this kind taking place again.

(It may also have to find a way to pre-empt attempts by minority governments to corruptly gain majorities on public bill committees, for that matter.)

The court’s decision will carry huge weight, as it could strip the minority Tory government of even the tenuous majority it has at the moment – making it impossible for it to push through its right-wing legislative programme and making a new general election more likely.

Mr McLean’s words, that the agreement was “no more and no less than the purchase by the government of votes in parliament using public money”, seem persuasive to This Writer.

Let us hope the judges hear them the same way.

Theresa May’s parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionist party will face a judicial challenge in the divisional court in London within the next few weeks.

The crowdfunded legal challenge brought by Ciaran McClean, a Green party activist in Northern Ireland, is likely to be heard by several senior judges.

The high court notified both sides’ legal teams on Friday that because of the urgency of the claim it should be heard in October at the beginning of the new legal term. It is likely to begin on 26 October.

McClean, the son of one of the founders of Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement, Paddy Joe McClean, is spearheading the challenge to the arrangement through which the DUP gained a £1bn aid package for the region.

The basis of the claim is that any political agreement between the government and the DUP is in breach of the Good Friday agreement under which the government undertook to exercise its power in Northern Ireland “with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions”.

The legal challenge also argues that the political deal breaches the Bribery Act 2010 and is in any event unlawful as a corrupt arrangement.

Source: Court to hear challenge to Theresa May’s £1bn deal with DUP | Politics | The Guardian


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Judges find DWP ‘fitness for work’ test breaches the Equality Act and is illegal

Despair: It's what many people who have mental illness feel when faced with the DWP's Work Capability Assessment regime. Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Despair: It’s what many people who have mental illness feel when faced with the DWP’s Work Capability Assessment regime. Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

A judicial review has ruled that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill.

The tribunal concentrated on the issue of supporting evidence, and found that – under the current system – no matter how ill or even delusional a person may be, they are responsible for gathering their own medical evidence and sending it in. Otherwise, the material will not be considered. For someone with a severe mental illness, this may prove impossible.

Paperwork documenting a patient’s history of mental illness may be ignored and their ability to work will be judged using evidence from a 15-minute interview with a stranger who probably has no mental health training and no idea what the experts have to say.

Reporting the victory, the Black Triangle Campaign wrote: “The judgment that the DWP is in breach of the Equality Act is a huge victory for everyone affected by severe mental illness, but it’s sad that it took a court case to force the DWP to take action.

“What makes it even harder to stomach is that it’s completely at odds with the government’s repeated insistence that mental health is a top priority… they are penalising the very same group by forcing them through this discriminatory process, which is putting lives at risk.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity MIND wrote: “The judgment is a victory, not only for the two individuals involved in this case, but for thousands of people who have experienced additional distress and anxiety because they have struggled through an assessment process which does not adequately consider the needs of people with mental health problems.”

And Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: “Now that the court has ruled that these tests are unfair it would be completely irresponsible to carry on using them. The Government must halt the mass reassessment of people receiving incapacity benefit immediately, until the process is fixed.”

We have yet to hear what Iain Duncan Smith has to say. Don’t hold your breath; you know in advance he won’t accept this.