Tag Archives: misconduct

Tribunal highlights corruption of disability benefit assessments as DWP tries to rely on disgraced assessor’s lies

 

The Department for Work and Pensions tried to use the lies of a disgraced and dismissed assessor as a reason to deny disability benefits to a claimant.

The corrupt and cruel Tory-run DWP tried to prolong a seriously-disabled claimant’s four-year fight for benefits by saying an upper-tier tribunal should accept an assessment by Alan Barham.

Barham was discredited after an undercover investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches in 2016.

Private assessment firm Capita dismissed Barham and he was found guilty of misconduct by a professional standards tribunal in 2017.

But the DWP still argued that a hearing by the upper tribunal should rely on his evidence – this month.

The claimant, previously on the higher rate of both components of DLA, was refused PIP based on an assessment by Barham.

On appeal to the first tier tribunal the claimant was awarded the standard rate daily living only. So the claimant appealed to the upper tribunal.

The DWP then produced a new assessment report dated 2017, which was still based in part on the original report by Barham.

The DWP argued that, if the upper tribunal sent the case back, it would be a up to a new tribunal to decide what weight to attach to the report.

Fortunately, our legal system is staffed by intelligent people, and the judge dismissed that DWP’s demand, saying it was

not good enough, because the criticisms of Mr Barham meant that his purported observations and purported examination could not be relied upon.

The judge ended up telling the DWP there was “a wealth of evidence” already in the papers from other health professionals and if that wasn’t enough for the DWP they could order a new assessment.

There was no reason for the case to go back to a new tribunal, the judge said, so either the DWP should come to an agreement with the claimant or the judge would decide on an award.

The DWP climbed down, and the claimant was awarded 11 points for the daily living component, giving them the standard rate, and 12 points for the mobility component, giving them the enhanced rate. The award runs for 10 years from the date of the original decision.

The problem is that the DWP will have absolutely no qualms about trying the same dodge, using material by the same discredited assessor, next time it has the opportunity.

There is no penalty applied to the DWP when it tries this dodge to get out of paying people the benefits they deserve, so there is no disincentive to stop it being used.

And the difference in the stakes is enormous. For a benefit claimant, the difference between no benefit award and an enhanced rate of PIP is often the difference between life and death; for the DWP it is just another day at the office.

This case ended well; the claimant got what they deserved. What happens if the next claimant doesn’t? And when will the DWP take responsibility for the injuries its decisions cause?

Source: DWP slammed by judge for trying to rely on evidence of disgraced Capita assessor

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How could Boris Johnson lead the Tory Party – or the country – from inside a jail cell?

Boris Johnson: His bags are packed but it’s too late to do a runner. He must appear in court to answer charges.

Boris Johnson’s prime ministerial ambition could soon be in tatters after he was told he will face trial for misconduct in public office over claims he made during the run-up to the EU membership referendum.

Mr Johnson supported the much-publicised claim – on the side of the so-called “Brexit bus” – that the UK sends £350m to the EU every week and the money could be better-used to pay for the NHS instead.

In fact, the UK does not send anything like as much money to the EU – and when the country decouples from the European bloc, the money it does send will need to be used to shore up the economy, which is already taking a battering.

If he is found guilty of the offences (there are three listed), then Mr Johnson may face six months’ imprisonment.

This may seriously harm his career plans. He is currently front-runner in the Conservative Party leadership race – but it would be hard for him to be Tory leader, let alone prime minister, from a jail cell. They don’t let you do it.

As far as I can tell, Mr Johnson’s lawyers are saying the court case is a “political stunt” – an attempt to use criminal law to regulate the quality of political debate.

That seems a very sticky wicket on which to go into bat.

We know that MPs lie.

Why not make it a criminal offence to do so?

Boris Johnson is to be summoned to court to face accusations of misconduct in public office over comments made in the run-up to the EU referendum, a judge has ruled.

The ruling follows a crowdfunded move to launch a private prosecution of the MP, who is currently the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest.

Johnson lied and engaged in criminal conduct when he repeatedly claimed during the 2016 EU referendum that the UK sent £350m a week to Brussels, lawyers for a 29-year-old businessman who has launched the prosecution bid told a court last week.

Source: Boris Johnson to appear in court over Brexit misconduct claims | Politics | The Guardian

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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‘Gazelle-like’ campaigner tries citizen’s arrest on Cabinet members over fracking

Discussion: Police officers examine Mr Mobbs' evidence.

Discussion: Police officers examine Mr Mobbs’ evidence.

An anti-fracking campaigner has been arrested after he suggested that he would climb “gazelle-like” over the Downing Street fence and make a citizen’s arrest on David Cameron, George Osborne and Ed Davey for misconduct in public office.

Paul Mobbs was arrested yesterday afternoon after spending several hours in a dialogue with police officers who eventually arrested him under anti-terrorism legislation.

He was carrying copies of all his research, in the belief that – if arrested – this would have to be admitted as evidence and could provide proof that he had a legal case against members of the government.

Tina Louise Rothery explained the day’s events in a Facebook post:

“Around 3pm today Paul was arrested under the Terrorism Act (Highways section) for blocking the entrance to Downing Street in his attempt to make a citizen’s arrest of… key members in the government. He has acted in this way as he believes that members in government are guilty of Misconduct In Public Office in reference to fracking.

“He arrived with a small team of witnesses and documenters at the entrance to Downing Street at around 11.15 … and proceeded to explain his intentions to the police on the gates. At first they ignored him but his politeness and clear knowledge of his rights necessitated that they eventually sent in their commanding officer who was joined quickly by two other officers.

“He explained that, as he has exhausted all other routes for taking action with regards to the fact that his research shows that the crime of Misconduct In Public Office is being committed, he has only one last resort which is to effect a citizen’s arrest himself… His arguments were erudite and his temper remained pleasant and non confrontational at all times, as you can see from the photographs. In fact, there was not one officer that he spoke with who did not end up smiling and laughing, particularly when he said that he was going to leap over the fence soon and they responded that he probably was a bit too big and old for that and he responded that, being an avid rambler, he can move ‘gazelle like’ if he wanted.

“He had on his person all his research and that would have to be admissible evidence in any trial and of course, his research may very well prove that members of government are actually breaking the law. In fact, you could see that over the course of the three hours he was talking with them, many of them [the police] were finding his evidence compelling themselves.

Arrest: Mr Mobbs is taken into custody.

Arrest: Mr Mobbs is taken into custody.

“Eventually, he took to stating that he was going to use his body to block any traffic coming in or out of Downing Street. At this point, a police van turned up and he was arrested. As you can see in the picture, he went peacefully. We believe he was taken to Charing Cross police station.”

Here is a short film covering these events:

Mr Mobbs’ research is available on his website.

His final report on fracking is soon to be released – he gave that to the police as soon as he arrived at Downing Street. He has also released an update of his ‘frackogram’, which he says seems to point clearly at serious misconduct in office.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Plebgate v NHS lies – why is one the lead on the news when the other was buried?

Why does the BBC want us to pay more attention to a squabble between this overprivileged cyclist and a policeman than to the wholesale privatisation of the National Health Service, for which we have all paid with our taxes?

Why does the BBC want us to pay more attention to a squabble between this overprivileged cyclist and a policeman than to the wholesale privatisation of the National Health Service, for which we have all paid with our taxes?

In the mid-1990s I interviewed for a reporter’s job at the then-fledgeling BBC News website. I didn’t get it.

Considering the BBC’s current output and apparent lack of news sense, I am now very glad that I did not succeed. I would be ashamed to have that as a line on my CV.

Unfortunately, the BBC accounts for 70 per cent of news consumption on British television – and 40 per cent of online news read by the public. It has a stranglehold on most people’s perception of the news – and it is clearly biased.

Take today’s story about PC Keith Wallis, who has admitted misconduct in the ‘Plebgate’ affair by falsely claiming to have overheard the conversation between Andrew Mitchell and another police officer. He admitted the falsehood at a court hearing in the Old Bailey.

The case is important because he had been lying in order to support the allegation that Mr Mitchell had shouting a torrent of profanities at the other police officer, Toby Rowland, after being stopped from cycling through Downing Street’s main gates. PC Rowland had alleged that one of the words used had been the derogatory word “pleb”, and the resulting scandal had forced Mitchell to resign as Tory Chief Whip.

It casts doubt on the integrity of Metropolitan police officers – a further four are facing charges of gross misconduct.

However, the officer at the centre of the case – PC Rowlands – is not among them. He remains adamant that his version of events is correct and is suing Mitchell for libel over comments he made about the incident which the officer claims were defamatory.

This is the story the BBC decided to make the lead on all its news bulletins, all day. It contains no evidence contradicting PC Rowland’s allegations against Mitchell; the worst that can be said is that the admission of guilt casts a shadow over the entire Metropolitan police service – and in fairness, that is a serious matter.

But the fact is that people will use this to discredit PC Rowland and rehabilitate the reputation of an MP who was a leading member of the Coalition government until the incident took place – and that is wrong. It is an inaccurate interpretation of the information, but the BBC is supporting it by giving the story the prominence it has received.

In contrast, let’s look at the way it handled revelations about the Coalition government’s plans to change the National Health Service, back when the Health and Social Care Act was on its way through Parliament.

You will be aware that Andrew Lansley worked on the then-Bill for many years prior to the 2010 election, but was forbidden from mentioning this to anybody ahead of polling day (see Never Again? The story of the Health and Social Care Act 2012). Meanwhile all election material promised no more top-down reorganisations of the NHS. Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo, speaking about it on the BBC’s This Week, said: “[The Tories] didn’t believe they could win an election if they told you what they were going to do.” Considering the immensity of the changes – NHS boss David Nicholson said they were “visible from space” – this lie should have sparked a major BBC investigation. What did we get?

Nothing.

After Lansley released his unpopular White Paper on health, David Cameron tried to distance himself from the backlash by claiming “surprise” at how far they went. This was an early example of the comedy Prime Minister’s ability to lie (so many have issued from his lips since then that we should have a contest to choose the Nation’s favourite), as he helped write the Green Papers that preceded this document (see Never Again). If it was possible for the authors of Never Again to dig out this information, it should certainly have been possible for the BBC. What did we get?

Not a word.

In contrast to Cameron, Lansley, and any other Tory’s claims that there would be no privatisation of the NHS, KPMG head of health Mark Britnell (look him up – he’s an interesting character in his own right) said the service would be shown “no mercy” and would become a “state insurance provider, not a state deliverer”. This important revelation that the Tories had been lying received coverage in less popular outlets like The Guardian, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail but the BBC only mentioned it in passing – four days after the story broke – to explain a comment by Nick Clegg.

One of the key elements used to get members of the medical profession on-side with the Lansley Act was the claim that GPs would commission services. This was a lie. It was well-known when the plans were being drafted that general practitioners simply would not have time for such work and it was expected that they would outsource the work to private management companies – many of whom would also have a hand in service delivery. There is a clear conflict of interest in this. East London GP Jonathan Tomlinson told Channel 4 that the scale of private involvement would be so large as to include “absolutely everything that commissioning involves”. This was a clear betrayal of the promise to GPs. The BBC never mentioned it.

Another phrase trotted out by the Tories was that the changes would increase “patient choice” – by which we were all intended to believe patients would have more opportunity to choose the treatment they received and who provided it. This is a lie. The new Clinical Commissioning Groups created by the Act – and run, not by doctors, but by private healthcare companies on their own behalf – have a duty to put services out to tender unless they are sure that only one provider is able to offer a service. In reality, this means all services must be opened up to the private sector as no CCG could withstand a legal challenge from a snubbed private provider. But this makes a mockery of Andrew Lansley’s promise that CCGs could choose when and with whom to commission.

In turn, this means private firms will be able to ‘cherry-pick’ the easiest and cheapest services to provide, and regulations also mean they can choose to provide those services only for those patients they believe will cost the least money. Anyone with complicated, difficult, or long-term conditions will be thrown to the wolves. In other words, far from patients having increased choice, the Health and Social Care Act means private companies will be able to choose the patients they treat.

We are still waiting for the BBC to report this.

Add it all up and you will see that the largest news-gathering organisation in the UK – and possibly the world – sees more news value in a slanging match between an MP and a policeman than it does in the wholesale betrayal of every single citizen of the country.

Why do we allow this to continue?

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Police: ‘To protect and serve’ their own interests?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

Unfit to wear the helmet: How deep does corruption run within our police? Do most officers still uphold the law without prejudice? Or do they use the uniform to pursue their own personal vendettas against innocent members of the public?

When did you lose faith in the British police?

Was it after Plebgate, the subject of a considerable controversy that has resurfaced this week? Was it after Hillsborough? Do you have a personal bad experience with officers whose interpretation of their duty could best be described as “twisted”, if not totally bent?

The Independent Police Complaints Commission says that the row involving whether former Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell used offensive language against a policeman who stopped him from riding a bicycle through the gates of Downing Street should have led to disciplinary action for the officer involved, along with others who supported his story.

IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass questioned the “honesty and integrity” of the officers involved and said that West Mercia Police, who investigated the affair, were wrong to say there was no case of misconduct for them to answer.

Now, there is plenty of evidence that this police complaints commission is anything but independent, and that it provides verdicts as required by its superiors – either within the force or politically. But the weight of the evidence that we have seen so far suggests that, in this instance, the conclusion is correct.

The Plebgate affair began less than a month after serious failings were identified in the police handling of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. It was revealed – after a 23-year wait – that serious mistakes had been made in the policing of the infamous FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, during which events took place that killed 96 people and injured a further 766.

In addition, post-mortem reports on the deceased were falsified and the police tried to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster.

These were both events that received national news coverage – but what about the local incidents that take place all around the country?

Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers said, “130,000 police officers are delivering a good service” – but are they really?

This blog has already mentioned the experiences of several people here in Mid Wales who have had unsatisfactory experiences with the police, including victims of serious physical, psychological and sexual abuse who were told to go back and suffer more of this personal hell by policemen and women who either couldn’t care less or were complicit in the crimes. Years later, attempts to get justice fell on the equally deaf ears of officers who didn’t want to know.

And this week the front paper of my local newspaper (the one I used to edit) carried the headline ‘Hello, hello, what’s going on here then?’ over a story about two local police officers who, while on duty, seemed more interested in having sex than upholding the law.

One was an inspector; the other a (married) constable. The inspector, prior to her promotion, had been instrumental in sending a friend of mine to prison on a particularly unsavoury child sex charge. There was no concrete evidence and the case hinged on the opinion of a doctor that was hotly disputed by other expert testimony. But my friend’s path had crossed this policewoman’s before and she had failed to gain a conviction on the previous occasion. It seems clear that she had not forgotten him.

I have always believed that the jury convicted my friend because its members were worried that he might be guilty – despite the lack of evidence – simply because he had been accused. “There’s no smoke without fire,” as the saying goes. It seems likely now that this conviction reflects the policewoman’s preoccupations with sex, rather than any criminal activity on the part of my friend.

It also seems to be proof of the fear raised by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s This Week – that police have been sending innocent people to jail and letting the guilty go free.

My friend is still inside, by the way. He has maintained his innocence throughout the affair but, having been released on parole and then dragged back to jail for a breach that was more the fault of the authorities for failing to give adequate warning against it, he is now determined to serve his full sentence rather than face the heartbreak of having his freedom stolen with another excuse.

Who can blame him?

Brooks and Coulson charged; Cameron remains at large

I asked this before, and I’m still asking now: What have they got to hide, and can it be any worse than what we’re all thinking?

Why is it that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have both been charged with crimes of corrupt payments to public officials, but their good friend David Cameron – perhaps the most public official in the UK – is able to evade investigation?

If his emails and text messages to Mrs Brooks were innocent, then why have they still not been made available to the public – as they should have been during the Leveson inquiry – and as promised after a Freedom of Information request elsewhere on the Internet?

Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are among five people facing charges that they made corrupt payments to police and public officials. She is a member of the ‘Chipping Norton set’ and a close friend of Mr Cameron, as we know from the fact that there is a wealth of email and text correspondence between them – all innocent, we are told – that we have been prevented from seeing. He is a former Downing Street communications chief who was previously editor of the News of the World, under Mrs Brooks.

Also facing charges are journalists Clive Goodman – former royal correspondent of the News of the World – and John Kay – formerly chief reporter at The Sun – and Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan Barber.

Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman will be charged with two conspiracies, relating to the request and authorisation of alleged payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a royal phone directory known as the ‘Green Book’.

The two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office involve one between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003 and another between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

Ms Barber, Mr Kay and Mrs Brooks face one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012.

None of these charges suggest any wrong-doing by our comedy Prime Minister, I should stress.

But he is a long-term friend of Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, and his correspondence has been kept hidden for so long that I’m sure I’m not the only one smelling something rotten here.

The current line from the Conservative Party on this matter is that we all (and especially the Labour Party) need to “change the record”.

That’s a particularly weak defence, isn’t it?

It was made by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, while emphasising the government’s programme on transparency.

Labour’s Chris Bryant asked, if that was the case, when Mr Maude would publish the “large cache” of emails relating to Mr Coulson [and] Mrs Brooks, and that was his answer: “The honourable gentleman needs to change the record.”

He can’t “change the record”. His question relates to a vitally important matter: Is there any evidence to suggest the Prime Minister of the UK may be implicated in alleged criminal actions by his close friends?

The longer we have to wait for an answer, the more suspicious this affair seems.

Bettison’s resignation shows yet again the double standards of our justice system

Why is it permissible to investigate possible misconduct by Sir Norman Bettison after he has retired, but not permissible to investigate misconduct by other retired police officers? Is it because the allegations against him are related to the high-profile Hillsborough tragedy, and nobody will care about YOUR case?

Sir Norman Bettison’s resignation as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police has infuriated me.

You might be surprised at this. You probably think it’s exactly what he should have done after he was accused, in Parliament, of boasting about fabricating stories to blame Liverpool supporters for the Hillsborough disaster, while he was serving with South Yorkshire Police in 1989.

I’m not angry about that. I’m angry because the Independent Police Complaints Commission released a statement after Bettison’s announcement, saying that it will continue to investigate his alleged part in the Hillsborough cover-up. The statement said: “We can, and in this case will, investigate criminal offences and misconduct matters after an officer has retired or resigned.”

This is not what you would get, if you tried to allege misconduct against a retired police officer. Believe me – I know!

That’s why I say this story demonstrates the difference between what happens in a high-publicity case, when a large number of people create a fuss, supported by people who are in the public eye, and what happens when an ordinary person goes to the police with an allegation of misconduct against a retired officer.

If you have read this column before, you will be aware that I have had dealings with the police over allegations by my disabled girlfriend (and her disabled mother) against a man who abused them mentally, physically and sexually. Their complaints to the police, made separately, went uninvestigated and the mother was actually sent back into an abusive environment by officers at her local police station.

When they made a joint complaint a couple of years ago, they wanted misconduct investigations launched into the behaviour of the police officers who had been involved in these incidents (which took place over a 28-year period, starting in the 1970s).

The response was that these investigations could not possibly take place – because many of the officers involved had since retired. In a face-to-face interview with an investigating officer on May 12, 2010, he told us: “Those who have retired don’t come under police conduct rules.”

In other words, any police officer – who may have committed crimes or acts of misconduct, but has since retired – will always get away scot free.

That’s the justice we got.

That’s why the IPCC’s unctuous and hypocritical attempt to ingratiate itself with the public by leaping to the attack on this high-publicity issue fills me with fury. Faced with such flagrant double-standards, the only rational response is disgust.