Tag Archives: Mike Sivier

Police who stop-searched UK athletes could lose their jobs

Remember when Metropolitan Police officers dragged UK sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner out of their car and away from their three-month-old child on false claims that they could smell cannabis?

Nearly two years after the incident, five officers involved will face gross misconduct charges that could lead to them being sacked. Another officer will face a charge of misconduct.

It is understood that a disciplinary panel will also consider whether racial discrimination played any part in the actions of some of the officers, who deny wrongdoing and insist they will contest the charges.

This Site reported on the incident when it happened.

Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped at 1.20pm on July 4, 2020 in Maida Vale, north-west London, by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group. He was driving and she was in the back with their child.

Reports of a police statement at the time claimed,

The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.

The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

It was also alleged that the officers justified their search by claiming they could smell cannabis.

Both athletes are trained by the former Olympic champion Linford Christie, who accused police of institutional racism, and they also said they believed racism played a part in the incident.

In a statement, Christie asked,

“Can Cressida Dick [then Met Police Commissioner, who spoke in support of her officers’ behaviour] or anyone please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?

“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?

“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”

A few days later, the Met referred the incident to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which has taken two years to deliver its findings.

This Writer’s personal opinion is that I would want access to every piece of evidence used in the case, when the disciplinary panel comes to hear it, because I simply don’t trust the institutions involved to make a correct decision without public supervision.

I have grave doubts about the reasons the Met gave to justify chasing, stopping and searching these athletes’ car, and there is also the matter of the distress caused to them as they were separated from their very young child.

The IOPC’s recommendation is a step in the right direction. But will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back?

Source: Police who handcuffed Bianca Williams to face gross misconduct charge | UK news | The Guardian

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#BackBoris ? Responses to this hashtag show people would rather back OVER him

Another bid to rehabilitate Boris Johnson bites the dust.

The idea behind #BackBoris appears to have been to rally support for Boris Johnson by concentrating on his successes – whatever they were! – and minimising the importance of the Downing Street parties; the deceit and corruption they represent.

But a hashtag is available for anyone to see, and those among us who know the facts about Boris Johnson could not resist the opportunity to restore the balance.

The results are for all to see – as follows:

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Did DWP torture this disabled benefit claimant until he died?

There are many kinds of torture – not just physical but also psychological.

This Writer has to ask whether the Department for Work and Pensions used psychological torture on a disabled benefit claimant by its own failures to carry out its duties properly.

DWP officers had left the claimant to be supported by an elderly, disabled parent – his appointee – who also needed daily carers and meals delivered.

Departmental guidance states that they should have found another appointee – but they did not do so. Why not?

Instead, the claimant’s ESA and PIP were repeatedly stopped due to failure to attend assessments, because letters were sometimes sent to the claimant’s address and sometimes to his parent’s.

The benefits were restarted after interventions – but the DWP has apparently lost the evidence showing why the claims had been restarted.

There are supposed to be safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable benefit claimants but – as we discovered after the death of Jodey Whiting – nothing has been done to encourage officers to follow them.

In this case, the DWP repeatedly failed to follow its own safeguarding procedures, despite the fact that officers knew the claimant was vulnerable.

In addition to physical health problems, this claimant had severe depression. At one point, a sibling contacted the DWP to say that the claimant’s GP had sent them for psychiatric assessment due to a deterioration in their mental health.

The sibling explained that they had been to the claimant’s house and found unopened post and said they weren’t fit for a PIP assessment, but another such interview was arranged – by letter.

The result was predictable: the claimant didn’t answer the door and their PIP was stopped. The same also happened in relation to their ESA claim.

The claimant died – underweight, “unkempt and dirty” – after having been denied ESA for three months and PIP for three weeks.

His parent had been providing cash for food, even though that person had their own care package, meals prepared and carers attending daily.

The claimant’s sibling complained to the DWP and the government department made a payment of ESA arrears and £3,000 of backdated PIP.

Unsatisfied, the sibling took the matter to the Independent Case Examiner, who ruled that a further payment of £10,700 in PIP be paid to the claimant’s estate and a consolatory payment of £2,500 to the family.

And a fat lot of good it dead the deceased man!

But think how much the DWP saved; one-off payments totalling £16,200 – which included arrears, remember – is much less than might have been handed out if the claimant had remained alive.

So I have to ask: did DWP officers deliberately push this claimant to death?

They knew he suffered from severe depression but chose to mess him around.

Brown envelope phobia is a known phenomenon in which depressed people avoid opening letters from the DWP – so they sent him letters that they knew he would never read.

They deliberately failed to find a new appointee, and sent important notifications to the claimant’s former appointee – knowing that he would not be able to read them.

Another known behaviour of depressed benefit claimants is aversion to confrontations with DWP-appointed benefits assessors; they believe (justifiably, as many documented cases show) that they’ll be cheated out of payments.

But these DWP officers still sent an assessor to this claimant’s address anyway. Is it really credible for them to say they did not expect what happened?

Or were they deliberately inflicting psychological torture on a man with severe – mark that: severe – mental health problems?

To This Writer, the evidence is clear: the problem at the DWP is systemic – people there are encouraged to ignore their duty of care to claimants.

But with the Court of Appeal refusing to allow another inquest in the case of Jodey Whiting, it seems impossible to bring the evidence needed to prove it into the light of day.

Is the whole of the UK’s benefit and legal system rigged to push vulnerable people to their deaths and then hide the facts, simply because they happen to be sick and/or have a disability?

Source: Disabled claimant died underweight, ‘unkempt and dirty’ after ESA and PIP wrongly stopped | Disability Rights UK

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More than 300 terminally ill people died PER MONTH after DWP denied them state benefits

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

Once again the Department for Work and Pensions has been caught lying about the support it provides to people who are terminally ill.

This Site reported, many years ago, on the scandal when it was discovered that – despite having a policy to put people likely to die within six months on a fast track for benefits – many benefit claims were refused, leaving these people to die in appalling conditions.

So then-Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced in 2019 that there would be a “fresh and honest” re-evaluation of the way these benefits were awarded.

It is now two years later, and two charities – the Marie Curie Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association – have drawn public attention to official data showing that the DWP is rejecting benefit claims by more than 100 terminally-ill people, every month.

Worse still, the official figures also show that an average of 315 people are dying every month*, never having been able to secure the fast-track benefits that are supposed to help them pass away with dignity.

This is damning:

They say there are “serious concerns” over the government’s “six-month rule” – under which people must prove they have six months or less to live to access fast-track benefits support.

They said there were red flags in the DWP’s ability to recognise when a claimant was approaching the end of life.

I think that is very… charitable.. of them.

It is far more likely that the DWP is simply ignoring the facts in order to avoid paying out the benefit money – knowing that these people will soon be dead; they can’t complain or appeal and expect justice before their condition kills them.

This in turn suggests that nothing at all has changed and that Amber Rudd’s “fresh and honest” review was nothing of the sort.

Here’s some evidence in support of that conclusion:

The charities say that the findings of the review are “being withheld”.

So, after 11 years of Tory control (and it wasn’t much better under neoliberal New Labour) we can say with confidence:

The Department for Work and Pensions intentionally harms people claiming benefits by depriving them of their payments in order to hasten their deaths.

No wonder we all hate having anything to do with that vicious, poisonous arm of the Tory government.

No wonder millions of people suffer anxiety attacks whenever they see an envelop marked “DWP” in their letterbox.

No wonder I said, years ago, that the DWP is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped.

But I’ll tell you why it wasn’t:

In killing thousands of people every year, the DWP is doing exactly what Boris Johnson and his Tories want.

*1,860 people over six months.

Source: Over 1,000 terminally ill people rejected for benefits and Universal Credit each year – Mirror Online

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Will new inquest into death of ESA claimant Jodey Whiting show failure of DWP safeguarding?

Jodey Whiting, 42, took her own life after her benefits were stopped.

Permission for a new inquest into the death of ESA claimant Jodey Whiting has been granted amid concern that a government department’s role in it had been covered up.

Here is the announcement from solicitors Leigh Day:

“The family of Jodey Whiting has been granted permission to apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest into her death after new evidence was submitted about the effect on her of a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decision to halt the benefits on which she was entirely dependent.

“Jodey’s mother, Joy Dove, was granted permission by the office of the Attorney General following her submission that the original inquest into her daughter’s death was insufficient. The new evidence she submitted in support of her application included an investigation into the handling of Jodey’s benefits by the DWP and a report from an independent psychiatrist.

“Jodey, from Stockton-on-Tees, died aged 42 on 21 February, 2017. She took her own life three days after she received her last Employment Support Allowance (ESA) payment.

“She had been informed on 6 February that the payments would stop and the associated housing benefit and council tax benefit payments would also be stopped.

“The decision to halt the payments was made because following a reassessment of Jodey’s entitlement to ESA, begun in 2016, she had failed to attend a work capability assessment (WCA).

“However, Jodey had requested a home visit for the WCA as she rarely left the house because of her severely poor health. She suffered multiple physical and mental health difficulties, took 23 tablets a day and was entirely dependent on welfare benefits.

“She had made in clear in her request for a home WCA that she had “suicidal thoughts a lot of the time and could not cope with work or looking for work”.

“The request was refused, the WCA was set for a date in January, and Jodey did not attend.

“After Jodey’s death, an inquest was held three months later, 24 May, 2017, which lasted less than an hour.

“The coroner declined to consider the potential role of the DWP and their acts or omissions in Jodey’s death.

“Jodey’s family were unrepresented and were unaware that they may have been entitled to publicly funded legal representation.

“After the inquest a report by an Independent Case Examiner concluded that the DWP had made multiple significant errors in how it treated Jodey.

“Some of the failings had not been known to Jodey’s family, who were horrified to learn how many failings had occurred in the handling of Jodey’s benefits.

“The opinion of an independent Consultant psychiatrist, sought by Jodey’s family,  confirmed that the DWP’s failings would probably have had a substantial effect on Jodey’s mental state at the time she took her own life.

“Joy argues that the manner in which Jodey was treated by the DWP, and in particular the withdrawal of her ESA, caused or materially contributed to her death and that, had this not occurred, Jodey’s death would not have occurred when it did.

“Following the letter giving her permission to apply for a new inquest into Jodey’s death, Joy said: “What a relief to be granted permission for a new inquest into Jodey’s death. It has been a nightmare but I want to thank the hard work of Merry Varney and all the team at Leigh Day and everyone who has been helping me with the Justice for Jodey campaign. This is a big step forward.

““I love my daughter so much and this should never have happened. How could they say she was fit to work? What they put her through was terrible, but I hope that this will mean that Jodey has saved others from the same nightmare.”

“Joy is represented by Leigh Day partner Merry Varney, who added: “The Attorney-General’s decision is very welcome. It is the first completed step in the long journey by Jodey’s family to seek a full and fearless investigation into whether the DWP, and its flawed decision making regarding Jodey’s benefits claim, caused or contributed to her death.

“”We must now apply to the High Court and seek to persuade the Court a fresh inquest is necessary.”

“The application for a new inquest will be made to the High Court within the next 6 weeks and a final hearing may take place by summer, 2021.”

This Site has been covering this case since June 2017 and will report further developments as and when they become available.

Source: Jodey Whiting’s Family Given Permission To Apply For Second Inquest Into Her Death | Leigh Day

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#shapeshiftingcreep Boris Johnson’s days in power seem numbered as his hypocrisies are outed

Trump and the chump: Boris Johnson has tried to model his premiership on the presidency of Donald Trump. Will he also copy its end – by being ejected in ignominy?

After Donald Trump was ousted from the US presidency, wouldn’t it be ironic if Boris Johnson’s message of congratulation to Joe Biden led to his own removal from office?

That’s what may happen, it seems, after a former Barack Obama assistant press secretary tweeted his disgust that Johnson thinks he can change his position on any subject and the public won’t notice or protest:

Soon Twitter was awash with #shapeshiftingcreep tweets, showing up the many about-turns in attitude that Johnson has displayed as he ‘shapeshifted’ to fit what he thought the public wanted to see:

Fitting perfectly into this new narrative is Johnson’s reversal over #FreeSchoolMeals for the Christmas holidays.

Remember the fuss about this? Labour had brought a motion to Parliament that the government should provide free meals to children in families suffering poverty due to Conservative government policies, most particularly arising from the response to Covid-19.

Johnson was among 322 Conservative MPs who voted the motion down. He – and other Tory mouthpieces – said the government had provided a fund to local authorities that could be used for that purposes. What they didn’t mention was that it was provided on the expectation that it would have been spent weeks previously – on other things – or that it would not have covered the cost in any case.

Now it has emerged that, at midnight, under cover of the media circus around Joe Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump in the face for the US presidency, Johnson has reversed his decision and will provide help for children in poverty after all:

The government is to spend more than £400m to support poor children and their families in England, following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

A winter grant scheme, to be run by councils, will provide support with food and bills, and a holiday food and activities programme is to be expanded.

The move represents a climbdown for the government, which had said Universal Credit was the best way to help.

From the package of support, a £170m ring-fenced fund will be distributed through councils, with at least 80% earmarked for help with food and bills.

This will receive funding from the beginning of December until the end of March.

The holiday food and activities programme will be expanded with a £220m investment to cover Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021.

On top of that, there will be a £16m cash boost for the nation’s food banks.

If Johnson thought he could get away with slipping this under the public radar, he had a nasty surprise:

You’ll have noticed another hashtag – #BorisNext – indicating a desire to see Johnson removed from office, now that Trump has gone. It dovetails neatly with #shapeshiftingcreep so This Writer sees no conflict in presenting the following examples:

All of the above remarks are valid – but I would attach particular significance to the following. Firstly:

And finally:

That is the growing sentiment across the UK.

The Conservatives haven’t ruined the country because of incompetence.

They did it because they are selfish and because they are corrupt.

If the United Kingdom – or any of its component countries, at least – is to survive, then Conservative power must be broken for ever.

Source: Marcus Rashford welcomes school holiday support climbdown – BBC News

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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.

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Starmer’s stand on schools and The Sun is so wrong he should be shamed out of the Labour Party

Apt: Keir Starmer reckons he was named after original Labour leader Hardie – but can anyone doubt that his illustrious forerunner might have said these words, if confronted with evidence of Starmer’s abysmal performance.

Keir Starmer seems to be going out of his way to upset the population of the United Kingdom.

His latest howler – in a long series going back to his very first day as Labour Party leader – is an article in the Daily Mail – the Heil, for crying out loud! – demanding that Boris Johnson ensure that all pupils are forced back into school in September, whether they are safe from Covid-19 or not.

Starmer was responding to the Tories’ manipulation of ‘A’ level results – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson fiddled them so pupils at private schools received better results than less privileged (but more intelligent, undoubtedly) peers. But he got it completely wrong.

Starmer demanded that Boris Johnson make sure that all schools are fully open in September, with hardly a mention of the deadly disease that triggered the decision to close them in March.

“I don’t just want all children back at school next month, I expect them back at school,” he blithered. “No ifs, no buts, no equivocation.”

And no safety measures, either.

Not only is it irresponsible for an Opposition leader to behave in this way – it plays directly into the hands of a Tory prime minister who has been keen to send parents back to work but less keen to ensure their safety against Covid-19 – but it is actually dangerous: it demands that safety measures must be ignored.

Result: Starmer has been pilloried – both for writing in the Heil and for failing to stand up for public safety. He wants to put our children in harm’s way:

https://twitter.com/JamesEFoster/status/1294906176971448320

James Foster touches on another blunder: Starmer’s failure to refuse any support from right-wing rag The Sun.

Interviewed last week by Channel 4 news, he refused to criticise that organ, and suggested that he would welcome its endorsement.

The response has been scathing:

And let’s not forget the people of Aberdeen, who rejected The Sun after it referred to the train in the Stonehaven disaster as “death express”.

At a time when Labour is trying to regain ground it has lost in Scotland – and failing, because the Scots have made their rejection of the kind of right-wing, sub-Tory, fake Labour that Starmer peddles abundantly clear over the last decade or so – courting a rag that insults Scottish people is poison.

It’s also a very-odd u-turn:

And it is one that will turn even more people away:

But Starmer is tone-deaf. His tin ear is so bad that he can’t even tell that he has caused such outrage.

Perhaps the final nail in his coffin is the fact that the 10 pledges he made to party members, for them to elect his as leader, have now been shown to have been lies.

That’s right. He has reneged on all but one of them – and that’s only because he hasn’t yet had the chance. See for yourself:

And that is why Starmer has to go. He isn’t even trying to put up a decent opposition to Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tory gang rule:

The longer Starmer squats in the Labour leadership, the worse the UK will suffer – because there’s nobody to oppose Johnson’s gangsters. He must be ousted before we go past the point of no return…

If we haven’t passed it already.

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Lower than sewage: liar Johnson is still making poorest NHS workers pay ‘immigrant surcharge’

Cleaning up: people who can least afford it are being charged for NHS treatment, despite being the ones who keep hospital beds clean and equipment available.

Could there be a better demonstration of what a detestable liar Boris Johnson is?

He said his government would end a £624 “surcharge” it demanded from immigrant NHS workers for their own healthcare treatment. He lied.

In fact, the charge has continued to be applied – to the poorest workers; those least able to afford it.

The fee is still levied on staff who take a different job within six months – lower-paid cleaners, porters and carers, especially those on the zero-hours contracts the Tories have been keen to force into the workplace.

Perhaps most damning of all is the fact that ministers have had to cheek to suggest that these staff – who are on the lowest pay possible – need an “incentive” to continue working.

Typical Tory thinking – Johnson reckons everybody is as lazy as he is!

In fact, people on low incomes – especially those on zero-hours contracts – already have an incentive to work. It’s called “survival”.

Apart from a tiny minority for whom a zero-hours contract works because it fits into their own lifestyle – people who already have enough money to live on – nobody would take up such a job if it wasn’t the best they could get.

Zero-hours jobs offer no sick pay or holiday pay; and the wages are the lowest employers can get away with offering.

And, of course, they are designed to facilitate termination on short notice.

So we see a situation in which Boris Johnson claimed he was ending an unfair charge on people who have worked tirelessly to save us all from Covid-19…

… when instead he was continuing to inflict it on the people who most deserved to have it lifted.

Remember when Nye Bevan said Tories were lower than vermin?

If he were around today, no doubt he would admit that he overpraised them.

I feel sure he would agree with me that Johnson is lower than sewage.

Source: Boris Johnson accused of ‘cynical broken promise’ as some foreign NHS and care staff still pay surcharge | The Independent

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Is ‘dire’ recession ‘until 2023’ warning really to be taken seriously or is there Tory doubletalk on the way?

Rishi Sunak: the Chancellor would love to be able to claim, just before Christmas, that the UK had bucked naysaying predictions.

We learned last week that the UK has gone into its deepest-ever recession, with Gross Domestic Product plunging by 20 per cent in the last three months alone.

Now an economist is warning that the Johnson government’s dire handling of the Covid-19 crisis means the recession will probably last until 2023, with serious consequences for the well-being of everybody in the UK.

But will it really?

I’ve heard these predictions before, and they are very handy for a struggling government.

Suppose the economy doesn’t stay in recession – or at least, that it doesn’t continue backpedalling for the three years predicted?

What do you think the Tories would do? I’ll tell you.

They’d come trumpeting their huge success in beating back the economic forces of recession, asserting that the recovery proves their Covid-19 policies were right, no matter how many people got killed!

And with more shops and businesses re-opening all the time, it seems clear that there will be a bounce-back straight away – meaning that the recession is likely to be over (in statistical terms) now, although the figures won’t be available until November.

And, of course, anybody hard-hit by that recession is unlikely to feel the benefit of that recovery; it will be for the fatcats, as is usual under a Tory administration.

Still: a good-news package that Johnson can sell to a desperate public right before Christmas – jolly hockey sticks for the Tories, what?

Source: Dire warning UK faces recession until 2023 and will fall behind US and Europe – Mirror Online

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