Tag Archives: Mail

DWP tries to blame Royal Mail for PIP delays but do we believe it?

It’s a sad consequence of having to fight a court case that I don’t have as much time for some of the subjects that made This Site’s name – such as the persecution of benefit claimants by the DWP.

This particular issue is one on which I have personal experience, though – as, I dare say, has anybody who has had to deal with DWP letters.

My case differs from that outlined by Disability News Service, though – in that the DWP contacted Mrs Mike to tell her that her PIP review was due, and could she return the form within a month of the date of the letter?

The letter arrived no less than 10 days after the date on it. That left three weeks to get the review done.

It is not enough time. Not only do PIP claimants have to navigate the form, which is worded in an open way but which is marked according to very specific requirements, but they must also seek corroborating evidence from carers, community helpers and healthcare professionals.

All of this takes considerable time.

As her carer, I knew that we needed to seek expert help in writing the form, so I contacted Citizens Advice and was immediately told that I would have an appointment to talk to someone in a few days’ time – and that I should seek an extension on the deadline at once.

I can’t say that conditions are the same across the UK – I live in Wales – but once I managed to get through to DWP (there was an inevitable wait of more than an hour) the department could not have been happier to extend the deadline.

I think I was given a couple of extra weeks.

I therefore advise everybody to do this – especially if receiving a letter with a deadline that appears to have been delayed in the post. It makes the argument between DWP and the Royal Mail irrelevant.

And I needed the extra time. Mrs Mike has a condition that can only get worse, but it wasn’t until I spoke to somebody else about it that I realised the extent to which her condition had degenerated.

Help I had provided as a favour when she was feeling particularly bad had become a habit – meaning that he condition has worsened – and the very shape of our days had changed as these accumulated.

The changes had been so gradual that I had not taken them into account – but they mean a great deal when dealing with the DWP.

I therefore advise everybody going through a benefit review to seek expert help from Citizens Advice or an organisation that is similarly qualified.

Finally there was the question of corroborating evidence. I provided a letter, as Mrs Mike’s carer, describing the obstacles she faces getting through the day, and the ways I have to help her.

We sought letters from community organisations and some professionals but received no interest in return.

And we contacted Mrs Mike’s doctor, too. This seemed likely to be problematic. “Oh, you’ll get no help there,” people said. “Doctors have been discouraged and disincentivised by the DWP! If you do get a letter, they’ll charge you a fat wad of cash!”

Not a bit of it was true.

We received a letter in due course, containing a printout of Mrs Mike’s medical history and a medical opinion that was adamantly in favour of her receiving the highest degree of benefit available to her.

Finally, when it was time to post the completed form, I took it to the post office and paid extra to ensure that the DWP would have to sign for it, to confirm receipt.]

This is very important. I know from personal experience and the experience of others that the DWP finds it easy to claim non-receipt – as it did in the case of the claimant in the DNS story.

This cannot happen if you have evidence that somebody signed for it. It bypasses any concerns about whether delays were caused by the Royal Mail or the DWP because it provides proof of delivery within the time stated.

The decision took about a month to come back. It confirmed Mrs Mike’s benefit would continue at the highest rates possible.

So that is my advice for anybody going through the benefit review process:

  1. Seek expert advice on filling out the form because they must provide specific information that the DWP must see before it awards any points.
  2. Contact the DWP and ask for an extension on the deadline if its letter arrived late.
  3. Seek evidence from anybody who has experience of the claimant’s disability. The worst that can happen is they decline to provide it. Don’t be put off asking your doctor.
  4. When you post the form back, make sure the DWP has to sign for it to confirm that it has been received.

These are measures that work.

They deprive the DWP of any excuse to blame another organisation for delays in processing a claim.

And they ensure that your benefit payments are disrupted by any nonsense if the DWP claims that you haven’t returned your form.

Source: DWP and Royal Mail dispute cause of PIP delays – Disability News Service

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The Queen hasn’t been ‘cancelled’ just because students have taken a photo of her off their wall

Is she bothered? Some students have taken a photo print of her down from their common room wall. So what?

The ‘silly season’ has arrived early this year.

Those purveyors of hysterical (in both senses) tabloid stories at Guido Fawkes blog have got their knickers in a tizzy after graduate students at the Middle Common Room of Magdalen College, Oxford, agreed to take down a photo print of the Queen that has been up since 2013.

Presumably they wanted to use the space for something else – for a while, at least.

Guido seems to resent this display of democracy. “Stalin would be proud,” the article claimed – indicating that the author doesn’t have much understanding of the way the late Russian dictator worked. It would be more Stalinist to demand that the portrait remain up after the students voted to remove it.

So, it seems, does Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who appears to have provided his opinion: “Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the United Kingdom. During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity and respect around the world.”

That may be his opinion but it has nothing to do with the students’ decision.

Other examples of misdirection in the article (spotted by the much higher-quality Zelo Street) are:

  • The image that has been removed isn’t a portrait – it’s a print of a photograph. For all we know, it might have had to come down because, after eight years on the wall, it’s probably a bit tatty by now. Guido‘s claim that it may be auctioned therefore lacks credibility.
  • Guido states that the college had voted to “scrap” the Queen, and this is simply untrue. College authorities had nothing to do with the decision by graduate students. It follows that the college didn’t agree to anything.

Still, why should the newspapers let the facts get in the way of a good scandal? Both the Heil (Mail) and the Brexit (Express) took joy in regurgitating the claims.

Outrage as Oxford students vote to axe Queen, screamed the HeilHow dare they! Oxford students cancel our Queen, screeched the Brexit.

And very foolish they look too – now. Here are some more rational reactions:

Yes indeed – mention of the former Ms Markle raised a pertinent point:

Last word must be this little reminder:

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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Red faces over ‘RedThroat’ as reporters line up to say Greensill leaks were NOT from Labour mole

David Cameron: there are genuine concerns about his conduct on behalf of Greensill – so why is a columnist for a Tory rag trying to make trouble for the whistleblowers?

The trouble with Dan Hodges’ assertion that a Labour Party mole leaked embarrassing information about the Greensill scandal is that a falsehood can go around the world before the facts have got their boots on.

In this case, the refutations have come fast – and there have been a lot of them – but the implication that this huge scandal has been fabricated by Labour will undoubtedly be taken up by the Tory-supporting trolls for use in the future.

Here’s Hodges:

In the article, he writes:

‘It’s pretty clear we’ve got a Labour mole inside Government,’ a Minister tells me. ‘There were suspicions before the Greensill affair, but this has basically confirmed it. It’s the only explanation for where all this stuff is coming from.’

Alternatively…

Tim Fenton, over on Zelo Street, has described the Tory frenzy to find Labour moles as “Amateur hour at the paranoia bar” and his article is well worth reading.

Even Gabriel Pogrund over at The Sunday Times, who seems to hate Labour so much that he published lies about This Writer (for which the paper later had to publish a humiliatingly-lengthy retraction), had to agree that Hodges is wrong here:

I wonder whether this is a thinly-veiled attempt to unmask the alleged moles, so the Tories can root them out of Whitehall.

If so, it is to be resisted.

Tory corruption is rampant and they are hardly likely to broadcast their misdeeds willingly.

We need whistleblowers in Whitehall to tell us what these people are really doing with our money.

We should not sit back and allow them to be punished for their honesty.

Of course, Hodges won’t take any punishment for publishing a falsehood.

Undoubtedly his article has boosted sales/reads of his rag, the Mail on Sunday.

As an ex-newspaper hack, This Writer can assure you that such a boost was all that its bosses wanted.

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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Rashford comes under media attack – but he’s done nothing wrong!

Marcus Rashford: Here’s a man who stands up for people who would otherwise suffer at the hands of a cruel government. What he does in his spare time, with his own cash, is his own business. What does the Daily Mail stand for?

This is classism and possibly racism from the Daily Mail.

The newspaper- if you really want to dignify it with that description – ran a story that footballer Marcus Rashford has bought five houses worth £2 million.

What business is it of ours? It’s his money and what he does with it is his concern.

Here’s the tell, in the headline: “Campaigning football star Marcus Rashford has bought five luxury homes…”

Oh, now we get it! He’s under attack because he dared to campaign for the Conservative government to actually face up to its responsibilities and look after people its policies are harming.

Rashford responded:

He realised there was a dog whistle in this – and he wasn’t the only one.

Many people saw it as racism:

The most sinister aspect of this is that it comes across as a prelude; there will be worse to follow. Gary Lineker knows the score:

Happily, this is a tactic that has backfired; the Mail will lose support because of this:

NHS Million’s decision is perfectly understandable and This Writer hopes others will follow it.

I wish I could do the same but This Site (and others) has to debunk the nonsense these mass-media extremists use to pollute our political consciousness.

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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Riley libel case: what a shame we can’t rely on the national press to report fairly and accurately

For the recycler: many newspaper stories about the various libel cases brought by Rachel Riley aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

A newspaper report on a recent libel defeat suffered by Rachel Riley illustrates a serious problem faced by those of us she has been dragging to court: we cannot hope for a fair hearing in the press.

The report, in the Mail, referred not to my own case but to that of Jane Heybroek, who beat Riley’s – and Tracy Ann Oberman’s – case against her, and forced them to pay… some… of her court costs.

I won’t do the Mail the courtesy of visiting its website to see the article. I can quote from the Zelo Street report on it instead:

Apparently, tacked onto a bit of throwaway celebrity gossip about some new acting role for Oberman was the following:

It comes after Tracy Ann and Rachel Riley dropped a libel action against an immigration barrister who retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a 16-year-old girl. Self-confessed ‘Buddhist Barrister’ Jane Heybroek shared an article by a blogger titled ‘Beneath Contempt: How Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father’”.

It’s true that Riley and Oberman withdrew their case – it seems clear that they had to. They could not show that any defamation arose from Ms Heybroek’s tweet.

And what’s this about her being a “self-confessed ‘Buddhist barrister'”? That’s a label that I doubt any barrister would attach to herself. As Ms Heybroek herself tweeted:

I am not a ‘self-confessed Buddhist Barrister’. I am a Barrister and a practicing Buddhist. Do not attack me on the basis of my religion again, otherwise that is going straight to IPSO.

(That’s the Independent Press Standards Organisation – the often-toothless press watchdog.)

 I asked my solicitor to intervene the last time you did this, and you amended your article. I will be asking him to intervene this time. If this happens again, I shall go straight to IPSO as this is a ‘course of conduct.

She also sent – or more probably re-sent – her full statement on the end of the court case and demanded a correction from the Mail:

In the end, it seems she was forced to bring in her legal team. Zelo Street reported that the Mail removed references to anti-Semitism in the article: “The inference made by including those references was clear, and potentially defamatory.”

The Mail had also distorted a previous judgement in the case – on the meaning of the words forming the basis of the complaint.

It seems clear from this behaviour that so-called little people like Ms Heybroek and This Writer cannot expect our cases ever to be reported accurately by papers whose editors think they’ll make more cash by publishing positive material about so-called celebrities.

It seems I need to crowdfund – not just to protect myself from the court attentions of Riley, but also in case the newspapers publish false information about me and I have to challenge them.

You can help – in these ways:

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 appeal.

I still don’t know when Riley’s application to strike out my own defence against her libel claim will come back to court, after it was adjourned from November 6.

Let’s make sure I’m ready to deal with whatever is thrown at me – and with whoever throws it.

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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Starmer and Rayner want to link Corbyn with something unacceptable. How about this?

The above is a screenshot of a tweet sent by John Stevens, deputy political editor of the Daily Mail, responding to a message of gratitude by Jeremy Corbyn’s wife, Laura Alvarez, for the many floral gifts he has received from supporters since the suspension of his Labour Party membership.

The suggestion that the flowers should be fashioned into a wreath is appalling and unacceptable, as it could be construed as wishing death on Corbyn.

Stevens claims it isn’t. He says it refers to one of the incidents in which it was alleged that Corbyn displayed anti-Semitism – laying a wreath at a graveyard where anti-Semite terrorists were buried. This in itself is a perversion of the facts as the terrorists were buried elsewhere.

In any event, the tweet was sent to Corbyn’s wife, and may therefore be considered threatening no matter what excuse this hack tries to use. That’s certainly how most of Twitter sees it:

Considering that the apparent incitement of violence against Corbyn resulted from Labour’s decision to suspend his party membership, one would expect current party leader Keir Starmer to leap into action, denouncing Stevens and demanding action by the appropriate law guardians (and Twitter).

Ah, but Starmer has just spent the last seven months courting the right-wing press in a vain attempt to get some positive coverage of his pathetic innings as Labour leader.

He hasn’t lifted a finger, even to type an angry tweet.

And, Labour members, you can be sure that he wouldn’t help you, either. It’s one of the reasons he must be rooted out of Labour as soon as possible; he’s only in it for himself.

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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Image of #Whitty confronting #Johnson over #Covid19 goes viral. What WAS he saying?

Whitty furious: but what was the UK’s chief medical officer saying to the prime minister who has bungled our defence against Covid-19 so badly?

Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? It seems the above image of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty tearing Boris Johnson a new one has merited many thousands more:

That last tweet seems the most likely to be true, profanity-ridden though it is.

The image accompanied a Spectator article by Robert Peston in which that “magazine” heralded a report by the Office for National Statistics that is likely to say Covid-19 is on the march again everywhere, not just in regional pockets.

It is also likely to say that while the illness is rising in all age groups, it is now most prevalent in young people aged 17-29.

The article goes on to discuss the latest plan to stop the march of the virus, by forcing pubs, clubs and restaurants nationally to turf out customers at 10 pm or reverting to closing them altogether for a couple of weeks.

Apparently the name devised for this is “circuit breaker lockdown”, the aim being to interrupt the progress of the virus by stopping its flow along an established route.

Bit of a misnomer, that, as closing pubs at 10pm isn’t going to stop Covid being spread through them.

In any case, the damage has already been done; it’s fixing the barn door after the chicken has come home to roost.

The simple fact is that Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and their cronies (who don’t like being challenged, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, remember) should not have reopened pubs in the way they did after such a haphazard campaign to keep a lid on the virus.

And that’s what I suspect Whitty was saying when the image was captured.

The article does highlight the real aim of Johnson’s Covid-related restrictions on our freedoms:

The priority of the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, is to suppress the incidence of the virus to a level that doesn’t prevent the NHS from treating other diseases and conditions.

So the idea is to infect the whole nation, piecemeal – presumably in the hope of eventually achieving that mythical “herd immunity” Johnson mentioned to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby back in March.

And never mind how many people die or suffer permanent health consequences as a result. Charming.

Peston, and the Spectator, also suggests that Johnson and his government “moved too late to prevent the first wave”, and “eventually applied the sledgehammer of total lockdown at huge economic cost”.

This seems characteristic of many right-wing periodicals; they are deserting the Tories – and in fact have started to criticise them hotly over the Covid fiasco.

Guardian article points out that the same magazine – The Spectator – ran a “Where’s Boris?” cartoon on its front cover “featuring a distant blond dot on a tiny boat bobbing rudderless and oarless on a stormy sea”.

The Daily Mail had reached a similar conclusion. “Boris: We’ve Failed” the front-page headline blared, with the paper claiming it had warned of a “looming test crisis five months ago”.

“Too often the government has over-promised and under-delivered,” concluded a leader in the Times on Friday morning. “Policies have had to be swiftly abandoned after the exposure of entirely predictable problems,” the centre-right broadsheet continued, adding the A-level fiasco and the problems with the contact-tracing app for good measure.

Of course they’re not willing to shift loyalty away from the Tories altogether… at least, not yet.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, for all his attempts to drag his party back into Tory orbit (and perhaps because of it) has failed to impress anybody apart from the most fervent haters of the man he replaced, Jeremy Corbyn. That party will need to find a new leader with a drop of socialism in his blood and a penchant for a decent soundbite. That’s not happening any time soon.

But just look at that picture.

This Writer has never seen a middle-aged bald man look so ready to smash somebody else’s face in – and I make that statement as a middle-aged, bald man myself.

It seems clear that Johnson is at a crossroads – but has probably sold his soul to the devil already. He’s on a road to a Hell of his own making – the question now is whether he’ll drag us all down with him.

Source: With scientists divided, it’s time for politicians to decide | The Spectator

Silly season stories: can you believe this desperate bid to blame Johnson’s Covid on Corbyn aide

This is very desperate, isn’t it?

Apparently the claim is that Seumas Milne, aide to Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader, passed Covid-19 on to Boris Johnson – according to the Mail on Sunday:

Of course the real reason Johnson caught the virus is the one we’ve known all along: in the days before he imposed social distancing, he had been going around shaking hands with Covid-19 sufferers – getting right into the area where they could infect him.

But those medical experts at MoS thought it couldn’t be that, and concocted this Milne story instead.

Clearly they had some column inches to fill.

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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Why is the field Starmer bought for his parent’s rescue donkeys a scandal, but Osborne’s paddock wasn’t?

Keir Starmer: at least this time he has reason to look relaxed – he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Let’s get one thing clear: Keir Starmer has been a disaster (so far) as leader of the Labour Party.

It comes as a relief, therefore, to learn that he is at least a good son.

Using his own money, Starmer bought a field near his parents’ home, so his mother could look after rescued donkeys. This was before he was a member of Parliament, when he was working in the legal profession.

Apparently the land is now worth “up to £10 million”, but he bought it in 1996 when it is likely to have been worth a considerable amount less.

And reporters in the Mail on Sunday want us to believe that Starmer is set to sell this Green Belt land to the local council – for housing:

The claim is false. Even the MoS article features a quote from a Labour spokesperson, saying that the field is not for sale – but a strip of land next to his late parents’ house is being sold, in accordance with his father’s will.

Contrast this with George Osborne and his paddock.

Remember that?

I wrote about it in 2012, as follows:

“Osborne – who is, let’s remember, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and therefore should know the rules extremely well – included the mortgage for a paddock in his taxpayer-funded expenses.

“He bought a farmhouse in Cheshire, along with the neighbouring land, for £455,000 in 2000, before he became an MP – but then, between 2003 and 2009, he claimed up to £100,000 in expenses to cover mortgage interest payments on both the land and the building. The mortgages were interest-only. After 2003, he never paid a penny himself.

“When he re-mortgaged in 2005, he increased the amount to £480,000 – again on an interest-only basis – to cover the intial purchase costs and £10,000 for repairs. He was using public money to claw back his outlay on the property, so from then on, none of the money paid on that building or land was paid by Mr Osborne. It all came from the taxpayer.

“During the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009 we learned that he had “flipped” his second home allowance onto the property and increased the mortgage. What we didn’t know was that the expenses payments were not just for the house, but for the paddock as well; it is registered separately with the Land Registry.

“Osborne sold the house and the land – both of which are now firmly established as having been funded with your money, not his – last year, for £1 million. That’s more than double the original price. He has pocketed that money; the taxpayer won’t get any of it back.”

Osborne did not need this building or the adjoining land to discharge his Parliamentary duties, nor did he pay back anything like the amount he claimed, when he was found to have overclaimed for mortgage interest on the farmhouse (and only the farmhouse).

The difference is clear.

Osborne used public funds to pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds. Starmer used his own money to help his mother.

And the Mail on Sunday attacked Starmer!

Perhaps this is because Osborne is a Conservative and could therefore do no wrong, as far as the Tory rags are concerned. Starmer, on the other hand, despite being practically a Red Tory, is Labour and therefore a target.

Fortunately the Twitterati feel otherwise:

That’s the truth of it; this is just a prelude.

Who knows what they’ll throw at him after the Covid-19 crisis finally subsides?

That’s likely to be a long way off yet (because the Tories are busily turning coronavirus into the biggest massacre of UK citizens ever to happen in peacetime).

But Starmer’s record as Labour leader suggests that this merely means they will have plenty of ammunition by then.

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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Now Iain Duncan Smith has received something intimidating in a brown envelope

Iain Duncan Smtih: apparently the ‘pick’ of Tory candidates for Chingford.

Iain Duncan Smith is formerly the Conservative Work and Pensions secretary who oversaw the transformation of the DWP from a support system into a mechanism for brutalising the poor.

It is on his watch that millions of unemployed, sick and disabled people developed a phobia of the infamous brown envelopes.

They became terrified of opening the letters, fearing that they contained announcements that their benefits were being sanctioned, cancelled altogether, or that they were to be re-assessed.

Now Mr Duncan Smith has received an intimidating brown envelope of his own.

It contained the decomposing remains of a rat – presumably a comment about what the sender thinks of the recipient.

But if it was intended to be intimidating, it didn’t work. Mr Duncan Smith simply used it to play the victim – and to blame the Labour Party and its supporters.

The reference to “kinder, gentler politics” is a clear attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s aspiration, when he became Labour leader in 2015, to encourage the Conservatives to be less confrontational and divisive.

Mr Corbyn’s wish did not come true because of people like Iain Duncan Smith.

None of Mr Duncan Smith’s complaints can be laid at Labour’s door and some are plain hypocritical.

The Tories are masters of smear tactics; we know that Mr Corbyn is the most-smeared UK political leader of all time.

(For example, when I used a search engine to find a reference to the smears against Mr Corbyn, look what was top of the results – because the Tories had paid for it to be there:

Hypocrisy.)

This writer does not approve of what happened.

Stunts like this simply give Mr Duncan Smith the opportunity to demand sympathy; he’s the victim here, right?

But he also has much to answer for, and should be brought to justice.

The best way to do that is to ensure he is voted out of Parliament.

Then we can seek justice for all the misery and death his policies have caused.

Source: Iain Duncan Smith is sent dead decomposing rat in post | The Independent

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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