The criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire may consider individual as well as corporate manslaughter charges, Scotland Yard has said.
At a briefing on the progress of the Metropolitan police investigation of the disaster, officers said they were examining eight cases of alleged fraud involving people who falsely claimed money after the fire. Four possible thefts from flats on the lower levels of the tower while it was under 24-hour security were also under investigation, they added.
Police said they believed the death toll from the 14 June blaze may fall slightly from the current estimate of about 80.
Their excuse: “We were only following orders” (as used at Nuremberg).
It isn’t good enough.
If this case does go to trial, it will be time for pressure to bring DWP staff to book as well.
Prosecutors will decide whether two Metropolitan Police Service employees should be charged over the death of a homeless man, the police watchdog has said.
Pericles Malagardis, 63, was found unresponsive outside Uxbridge police station in west London on March 5 last year, hours after being ejected from the reception.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider if charges of gross negligence manslaughter should be brought against two members of Metropolitan Police Service staff.
Mr Malagardis, who had been sleeping rough at Heathrow Airport, visited the police station on March 4, 2016, to collect his dog, which had been put in kennels while he went to hospital.
The Greek national was asked to leave at 12.40am the next day and removed by staff, but stayed outside.
He was found unresponsive at around 5.30am and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6.45am.
The IPCC said its investigation had centred on the decision to remove the man and the level of care provided by staff in the hours after and when he was found unresponsive.
The villain of the piece: Iain Duncan Smith drives all of the government’s policies that discriminate against the sick or disabled. Others have memorably noted that his idea of helping them is to kick away their walking-sticks to see how far they can crawl.
The UK Coalition government is to face trial by the European Court of Justice over an alleged failure to correctly assess the benefits EU migrants are entitled to claim. This is very laudable, but begs the question: When are the European courts going to address the Coalition’s transgressions against its own citizens?
I refer, of course, to the continuing scandal of Employment and Support Allowance, the disability benefit that isn’t (according to the government’s plans for another so-called benefit, Universal Credit).
Vox readers are, by now, well aware that the so-called “work capability assessment” that allegedly determines whether a person is entitled to the benefit or is fit for work is in fact a sham, run by a French Information Technology company (Atos), using a computerised, tick-box assessment system that is based on a scheme that earned the American insurance company that devised it (Unum) a criminal record, because its sole intention was to prevent as many people as possible from fitting the criteria necessary to win a claim.
The application of this assessment system has led to an average of 73 deaths every week. This means that, between the moment I woke up this morning and the time I’m writing this (around midday), at least two more people are likely to have died – either because their condition has worsened due to the strain of the assessment procedure, or through suicide; their mental health was not strong enough and they decided to give up, rather than fight for what should be theirs by right as UK citizens.
A BBC documentary (Week In, Week Out, May 28, 2013) recently quoted a statistic that claimed people with chronic pain – who are therefore entitled to claim ESA – are twice as likely to die prematurely than those without, so why is the Coalition forcing them through these fake “medical” examinations and then telling them they are fit to work – effectively trying to induce such premature deaths?
That question has been taken to the European courts – and the United Nations’ International Criminal Court. The response, so far, has been breathtakingly disappointing. It seems that they need proof that the UK’s own justice system will not rectify the problem before they will agree to take action.
How much proof do they need?
Within the last couple of weeks, Linda Wootton, a lady who had endured multiple organ transplants due to illness, died – within days of receiving notice that a work capability assessment had found her fit for work and her ESA had been cancelled.
In the same period, a High Court tribunal ruled that the Coalition has broken the law by discriminating against people who are mentally ill. This is exactly the kind of discrimination that causes the suicides. It is something about which the government has been warned – not rarely, but continually and with passion. And what is the government’s response?
It intends to appeal against the decision. It says it has made enough concessions to the mentally ill already.
We know what happens when the government appeals against court decisions. It loses.
And then it changes the law, in order to make its actions legal again.
That is the act of a criminal regime.
But the international courts are still sitting on their thumbs.
By the time I finish posting this article, according to the averages, another ESA claimant will be dead – making three, or thereabouts, since I woke up this morning. If the international courts finally get their act together, examine the mountain of evidence that has built up against the Coalition over the last three years, and find it guilty of corporate manslaughter – or procuring suicide under the Suicide Act 1961 – it will be a tremendous day for the most vulnerable people in the UK.
And make no mistake – the chronically sick and disabled are far more vulnerable than most European migrants.
But one fact will remain: Thousands upon thousands of these vulnerable people will have died, and no court decision will ever bring them back.
ESA isn’t the only benefit system that is failing the British people. Look at Stephanie Bottrill, who committed suicide because she was facing eviction. She couldn’t afford to pay the Coalition’s hated Bedroom Tax.
You see, these aren’t just numbers. They’re people. Thousands and thousands of real people. With real families who are left to mourn the loss.
In the UK, the Coalition and the press have worked hard to create a lack of empathy for these people – calling them scroungers, or skivers, or work-shy. In reality they are nothing of the sort. They are seriously, seriously ill. They are victims of a libellous hate campaign. And they are too sick, and too poor, to mount a challenge against what is happening to them.
Now, I don’t want the Comment column after this article to fill up with hate-speak for Johnny Foreigner. The fact is, the Coalition probably is denying benefits to migrants.
My rationale for suggesting this is the fact that it is denying benefits to the UK’s own citizens, and is perfectly comfortable with letting them die as a result.
So, while I applaud the European Court of Justice for taking this step against the UK government, I must also add this:
Get your priorities right.
Postscript: You know, it isn’t my job to point out these things. There are people in this country who are employed – in fact, there are people in this country who are elected – to do so. Why aren’t these people spending every waking hour campaigning for justice, for their constituents and for the nation as a whole? Why aren’t they fighting the media lies? Where is the opposition to this government criminality?
Post-postscript: Have a look at this article, reporting that the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights has found the Coalition government in breach of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Now we have proof that the Coalition is actively discriminating against the disabled, and breaking UN conventions to do it, will the UN, finally, step in?
Oh! I just looked at the time. That’ll be another person dead, then.
It might seem ridiculous but the DWP and Atos are guilty of the behaviour described in this image – and much worse – leading to loss of income and stress that, for some, has been intolerable. Thousands of deaths have been recorded.
Pressure is mounting to have leading Conservative politicians tried from crimes against humanity, with the launch of a new e-petition on the government’s own website, to compliment a submission to the International Criminal Court over the summer.
The e-petition by Christopher Gare calls on the government “To Investigate the DWP and connected MPs for corporate manslaughter, in relation to the WCA & Atos Healthcare… We have seen deaths rise of people on sickness benefit from 310 in 2010 to 10,600 in nine months of 2011.”
The reasoning behind both bids is simple enough – that the so-called ‘reform’ of welfare benefits and, in particular, those related to sickness and disability, have in fact led to the deaths of more than 70 sick or disabled people every week.
These deaths have occurred as the victims have been passing through the government’s dreaded work capability assessments, as administered by the private company Atos, under instruction from the Department for Work and Pensions. The stress of the assessment process, couple with fears about the future, if benefits are removed, has been too much for many to manage and they have died. I believe the most common cause of death is heart attack, although I sit ready to be corrected.
Everybody who died had been found unfit for work by their own GPs. In order to cut their benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions must have relieved those doctors of their duty of care for those patients. That duty would have then passed to the DWP. For those disability benefit claimants to have died after the DWP took over that duty of care, it is logical to believe that the DWP was reckless about the effect its decisions would have.
The government ministers most responsible for the current system are those who were at the head of the DWP until the government reshuffle last month: Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Maria Miller. Therefore it seems most likely that they should be the subjects of any investigation.
… Which is exactly what disability specialist Samuel Miller told the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He contacted the ICC during the summer, seeking clarification on whether austerity deaths of the sick and disabled in the UK are considered a crime against humanity by that court.
If they are, he intended to file a complaint against Messrs Smith, Grayling and Ms Miller for the “draconian welfare reforms and the resultant deaths of their society’s most vulnerable”.
If you think the DWP has caused the deaths of sick and disabled people, then follow the link and sign the petition. If you don’t, have a look around the web and read the evidence for yourself. There’s plenty available!
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