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Family of Errol Graham win judicial review challenge of DWP safeguarding policies

17 July 2020

Following the death of Errol Graham the DWP will now have to answer questions in court about the legality of its safeguarding policies and why it has not reviewed and revised those policies as it promised to do at his inquest.

Errol Graham weighed just four-and-a-half stone when his body was found by bailiffs who had knocked down his front door to evict him. He had just a couple of out-of-date tins of tuna left in his flat.

His ESA and Housing Benefit had been stopped eight months previously after he had failed to attend a work capability assessment.

He was known to suffer from serious mental health issues but in line with DWP safeguarding policies his benefits were terminated after he missed an appointment and the DWP were unable to contact him.

Before cutting off his income no attempt was made to ascertain the state of Mr Graham’s health and no attempt was made to contact his GP or his family.

Now Mr Graham’s son’s partner, Alison Turner, has been granted permission to a full judicial review challenging the legality of the current safeguarding policies and the failure of the DWP to review and revise those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.

Alison will argue that the safeguarding policies are unlawful as they create a significant risk of breaching the human rights of vulnerable individuals like Errol and she will seek a declaration that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey has unlawfully breached her legitimate expectation that a review would be carried out resulting in revised policies.

Alison Turner said:

“Errol had a long history of serious mental illness which left him severely incapacitated. When the circumstances of his death came to light we had hoped and from what the DWP stated at the inquest, we had expected that the department would review their safeguarding policies and involve us in that review.
But, incredibly, that has not happened. We deserve answers and those answers need to be public for the sake of other families and other vulnerable benefits claimants who suffer similar mental health difficulties.
No one else should be put at risk in the same way Errol was because adequate safeguarding measures are not in place.

Ms Turner is represented by Leigh Day Partner, Tessa Gregory, who said:

“The DWP committed at Errol’s inquest to reviewing the applicable policies but two years after his death and one year after the inquest, nothing has changed.

Our client therefore feels she has been left with no option but to bring these proceedings to try and force the Secretary of State to take steps to ensure that no other families have to suffer in the terrible way her family has.”

For more information see Family of Errol Graham granted permission for judicial review challenging DWP available from leighday.co.uk

Also available from disabilityrightsuk.org: