Tag Archives: lawsuit

Tories and ‘centrist’ hypocrites call for closure of fund to help Jeremy Corbyn fight legal battle

‘New’ Labour and old news: Ian Austin and John Mann

Fantasists who have spent years pretending Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite are wailing in protest after a fund was set up to help him fight a legal battle.

The broadcaster John Ware, who was responsible for last year’s risible Panorama ‘documentary’, Is Labour Antisemitic, is suing Corbyn over comments made by the former Labour leader and the official party line on the film at the time.

In response – and after current Labour leader Keir Starmer went against legal advice provided to the party in order to reward former Labour apparatchiks who appeared in the film, Corbyn supporter Carole Morgan has set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding web page that has raised around a quarter of a million pounds at the time of writing.

Starmer has spent around £600,000 of Labour members’ subscription money on court costs and the payout to a group of so-called “whistleblowers” who said they were libelled by the party over their part in the Panorama show. We are told legal advice to the party was that their case would not stand up in court.

Ms Morgan’s hugely-popular crowdfunder has attracted attacks from the usual suspects.

Former Labour Party cuckoo Ian Austin has attacked the initiative, saying that Corbyn should give some of the money back because some of the contributors left anti-Semitic comments.

But this is childish nonsense; it would be poetic justice to use an anti-Semite’s money to protect an anti-racist.

And did Austin complain when £250,000 was raised to help right-wing Labour MPs (as he was at the time) to remove Corbyn from his position as Labour leader?

No he did not.

The hypocrisy is strong in this one…

… as it is in the “news” paper that ran the story:

In a related event, Lord John Mann – who used to be a Labour MP but joined the Tories in exchange for a peerage and unlimited opportunities to have a pop at Corbyn – has been attacking the former Labour leader over anti-Semitic tweets by a ‘grime’ performer called Wiley:

Anti-Corbyn camp followers took up the cry, attacking Corbyn’s supporters for being silent about it. Most of us had never heard of the person in question:

I tweeted about this myself:

It seems I sparked a round of agreement, as others chimed in to admit that they hadn’t heard of this Wiley fellow either:

And here’s the icing on the cake:

So it seems even Corbyn’s reply wasn’t real and Mann was getting het up over nothing.

Will he apologise?

Source: Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to return £210,000 Go Fund Me cash to help him fight legal battle | Daily Mail Online

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Does money matter more than your life? Corporations prepare lawsuits against countries over Covid-19 protections


Remember the fuss over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? No?

Let me tell you a story.

Back when the UK was part of the European Union, there was a move to create a trading partnership with the United States, allowing goods to flow between the two power blocs, practically tax free.

But problems arose over a so-called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that would have allowed corporations to prosecute individual nations if they passed laws that – for example – protected citizens from having to buy inferior goods that put their health at risk.

This would have interfered with the corporations’ profits, you see.

The possibility of entering an agreement that gave ultimate power to greedy shareholders rather than national governments that – at least nominally – exist to protect citizens killed the TTIP stone dead.

Now we have evidence of what a good idea this was:

Countries could soon face a ‘wave’ of multi-million dollar lawsuits from multinational corporations claiming compensation for measures introduced to protect people from COVID-19 and its economic fallout, according to a new report.

Researchers have identified more than twenty corporate law firms offering services to mount such cases, which would seek compensation from states for measures that have negatively impacted company profits – including lost future profits.

Measures that could face legal challenges include the state acquisition of private hospitals; steps introduced to ensure that drugs, tests and vaccines are affordable; and relief on rent, debt and utility payments.

Under controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) mechanisms, foreign investors, companies and shareholders are able to sue states directly at obscure international tribunals over a wide range of government actions… in what the researchers describe as “a parallel justice system for the rich”.

This Writer is not aware of the UK being a part of any ISDS procedure, and it is clear that any agreement to take part in one would be an offence against democracy.

Note very carefully that the UK’s Conservative government was very keen to take us into such an agreement with the United States, as part of the EU.

I can only agree with Labour’s John McDonnell…

… and urge that anyone hearing of such lawsuits taking place here in the UK let me know immediately.

Source: Exclusive: Countries to face a ‘wave’ of corporate lawsuits challenging emergency COVID-19 measures | openDemocracy

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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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Who is the worst threat to Labour over the leaked report on right-wing factionalism?

For the many: it seems Labour’s apparent failure to live up to its slogan could do more damage to the party than a few defamation/data protection claims.

How surprising to see The Guardian reporting on a financial threat to Labour after a report was leaked alleging misconduct by party officers that meant the party lost the 2017 general election!

Instead of stating that rank-and-file party members were getting together to demand their subscriptions – that they could argue were taken under false pretences as party officers were working against winning the election…

I found that the people accused of the misconduct are planning to sue the party for defamation and data protection offences.

On one hand I am encouraged by this. I have taken Labour to court over data protection offences after (false) information about me was leaked to the national press by a party officer.

The fact that others are considering the same suggests that I was well within my rights to accuse the party (because, as data controller, it has ultimate responsibility for leaks).

On the other, it is doubtful that any defamation claims should be allowed to go anywhere – at least, not yet.

The information about party members in the report is taken from emails and WhatsApp messages that were placed in the hands of party investigators legitimately and it would be premature for anybody to launch lawsuits on the basis of it, until evidence is brought forward that disproves it.

Also, consider the words of the lawyer concerned, Mark Lewis. He said: “For four years, people in Labour have said there is no antisemitism in the party, it’s just a smear. Now they say that of course there was antisemitism, ‘but it just wasn’t us’. They have not noticed the absurdity of their change of position.”

Nobody in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership said there was no anti-Semitism in the party. I haven’t said that. None of the other higher-profile members who were accused has made that suggestion (to my knowledge).

So who, exactly made that claim? I notice that Mr Lewis did not elaborate on its origin and that is another reason to doubt the usefulness of these threatened lawsuits.

Are they just an attempt to bully the current Labour leadership? Why would anybody expect that to work?

On the other hand, going back to the wider party membership, it seems far more likely that action brought by rank-and-file members would succeed in restoring their subscription money to them.

If enough people do this, then it could put Labour in serious financial difficulty.

And it is entirely possible that the party would deserve to be put in that predicament – if the allegations in the report turn out to be accurate.

Source: Labour party faces financial peril over leaked report | Politics | The Guardian

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Fraud lawsuits relating to Trump University settled for $25m – but it doesn’t disprove guilt

Former students who filed the suit said they were lured by false promises to pay up to $35,000 to learn Donald Trump’s real estate investing ‘secrets’ [Image: Bebeto Matthews/AP].

Former students who filed the suit said they were lured by false promises to pay up to $35,000 to learn Donald Trump’s real estate investing ‘secrets’ [Image: Bebeto Matthews/AP].

Settling a lawsuit out of court doesn’t disprove a case against a defendant, you know.

That’s especially true if the defendant said – as Donald Trump did, in March this year – that he never settles lawsuits out of court.

I’ve seen a few tweets about this that should put the case into context. Here’s just one:

Fair enough?

Donald Trump has settled fraud lawsuits relating to Trump University for $25m, removing a legal headache despite having pledged to fight the cases to the bitter end.

Lawyers for the president-elect settled the three lawsuits on Friday, averting the prospect of him testifying in a courtroom showdown which threatened to reveal more troubling details about the now defunct real estate course.

Source: Donald Trump settles fraud lawsuits relating to Trump University for $25m | US news | The Guardian

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It’s time to take a stand against the Coalition’s new benefit-reduction enforcer

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus 'Mass Action' day.

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus ‘Mass Action’ day.

Today’s the day, people! It’s time to show the government what you think of its new Work Capability Assessment company – Maximus.

Demonstrations against the American insurance provider, which is said to have a long history of denying the existence of medical disability in claimants (in order to avoid paying out on claims), are taking place up and down the United Kingdom.

This writer has been asked to mention the campaign outside the Atos/Maximus assessment centre on St Agnes Road, Heath, Cardiff CF14 4YJ, taking place between 1pm and 4pm. Readers from Cardiff or parts nearby are urged to go along and show the strength of their feelings about this firm.

The main demonstration is in London, at the address in the image at the top of this article.

In Edinburgh, it is at Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9SJ.

Maximus has been hired by the Coalition Government after ending the contract with Atos due to “significant quality failures”. The contract is worth no less than £595 million over three years – nearly £200 million per year. No doubt public sector employees could have provided the service cheaply and more efficiently but right-wing ministers like the Tories always prefer contracting-out; it means they have someone to blame when things go wrong.

The company has a history of ending lawsuits against it in the USA by making out-of-court settlements costing millions of dollars, with the most notable plaintiffs being the US government in a case involving falsified Medicaid claims, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case involving disability discrimination.

Claimants of sickness and disability benefits in the UK are deeply distressed that their government should be insensitive enough to hire such a firm – the message it sends out to vulnerable people is that the government is happy to renege on its duty of care, when the message should be that vulnerable people should be able to rely on the support they deserve.

Remember, people suffering from long-term illnesses and disability have paid their taxes and are entitled to the benefits funded by those contributions.

So please, whether you are a benefit claimant yourself or are able-bodied but concerned, please consider attending at a location near you. The full guide to events is on DPAC’s (Disabled People Against Cuts) website.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Action against new Work Capability Assessment firm is planned before it even starts

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus 'Mass Action' day.

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus ‘Mass Action’ day.

What’s the most notable fact about the government’s new Work Capability Assessment contractor – Maximus?

Is it the claim that the company will carry out no less than one million work capability assessments in its first year? No.

Is it the fact that the company has a history of ending lawsuits against it in the USA by making out-of-court settlements costing millions of dollars, with the most notable plaintiffs being the US government in a case involving falsified Medicaid claims, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case involving disability discrimination? No.

Is it the fact that citizens of the United Kingdom have already organised a day of action calling for the company to be sacked, before it has even started work? Could be!

Maximus has been hired by the Coalition Government after ending the contract with Atos due to “significant quality failures”. The contract is worth no less than £595 million over three years – nearly £200 million per year. No doubt public sector employees could have provided the service cheaply and more efficiently but right-wing ministers like the Tories always prefer contracting-out; it means they have someone to blame when things go wrong.

The firm is promising to clear a backlog of around 600,000 claims for Employment and Support Allowance. In the light of the Medicaid debacle in America, one is forced to question whether another falsification case is looming on the horizon.

Ah, but Maximus says it is hiring hundreds of “healthcare professionals” to deal with the heavy workload. This does not inspire confidence as anyone who has had dealings with the Atos version of this job description will be aware that very few of them had backgrounds in healthcare or behaved in a professional way.

Take note: Maximus is not taking on any additional doctors. This means the percentage of doctors involved in the process will decline against that of “healthcare professionals”.

According to the BBC, “Atos was appointed by the Labour government in 2008 to carry out assessments, but was dogged by controversy as the number of people wrongly assessed as fit for work grew.” In fairness it should be pointed out that the number of mistakes grew exponentially after the Coalition Government’s Iain Duncan Smith introduced stricter standards around 2011.

“At the same time, increasing numbers won their appeals at tribunal.

“Some people who had been told they were fit for work and should find a job later died.” Nobody knows how many, because the Department for Work and Pensions does not monitor what happens to people after they have been thrown off-benefit. The death toll could number thousands.

Meanwhile, we know that 10,600 people who were granted the benefit died between January and November 2011 – more than 200 per week.

The DWP has jealously guarded all death statistics since then – now nearly four years ago. It is believed this is because the total would cause public outrage on a level not yet seen.

This image shows the general public feeling towards Maximus.

This image shows the general public feeling towards Maximus.

It is therefore unsurprising that disability organisations have organised a day of action against Maximus, which they see as just another ‘front’ company supporting government policies that have not only failed, but have done so in the most prejudicial way possible – risking people’s lives.

The day of ‘Mass Action’ has been organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), New Approach, Black Triangle and the Mental Health Resistance Network.

It will take place at Maximus’ headquarters – Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, starting at 1pm on Monday (March 2).

If you have any doubts at all about the government’s motives in employing Maximus, or the company’s ability to assess people’s illnesses and disabilities in a reliable way, then you are invited to attend.

In addition – of course – please spread the word.

Further information is on DPAC’s website: http://www.dpac.uk.net

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Don’t be naive, Len – Cameron WANTS to lock privatisation into the NHS

140703NHS-TTIP

Unite’s secretary general Len McCluskey would be naive indeed to think David Cameron is ever likely to heed his call for the National Health Service to be kept out of the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

McCluskey has warned that the NHS could be sued by American healthcare multinationals if a UK government tried to return services to state control; they would argue that such renationalisations interfered with their potential profits, in breach of the trade agreement, as has been discussed on this blog in the past.

His appeal misses the point. The entire thrust of Coalition government policy is to ensure that the NHS becomes vulnerable to just such pressure, in order to ‘lock in’ the privatisations inflicted on us by Andrew Lansley’s horrifying Health and Social Care Act 2012.

One has to look no further than Vince Cable for confirmation of this. The Whig business secretary (you can’t call him a Liberal Democrat any more, and as a commenter pointed out today, the government as a whole behaves more like the old-style Whig Party from the 19th century. If the cap fits…) told The Independent: “There is no suggestion whatever that the TTIP negotiations could be used to undermine the fundamental principles of the NHS or advancing privatisation.”

What he means by this is that – as far as he is concerned, advancing privatisation is a fundamental principle of the NHS since Andrew Lansley’s hateful Act of Parliament. Therefore the TTIP agreement can only contribute to that project.

He said: “Our focus for health is to enable our world-class pharaceutical and medical devices sectors to benefit from improved access to the US market.”

If we have world-class healthcare already, why do we need access to a market-driven system that can only drag us down into mediocrity? Clearly he is not talking about healthcare at all; he is talking about the health service as a source of profit. The “benefit” he describes can only be profit – income for shareholders in private companies that could not be accrued while they were excluded from NHS work.

Everybody involved in this betrayal should be imprisoned as a traitor, with Cable and Lansley first to be sent down.