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Family of Errol Graham granted permission for judicial review challenging DWP

Following the death of Errol Graham the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will 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

16 July 2020

Mr Graham was found having starved to death aged 57 on 20 June 2018 in his flat. His Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefit had been stopped eight months previously after he had failed to attend a fitness for work 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 SSWP, Therese Coffey has unlawfully breached her legitimate expectation that a review would be carried out resulting in revised policies.
 
Following the Court Order the DWP now has 35 days to serve her Detailed Grounds and Evidence defending the safeguarding policies and explaining why the SSWP has not reviewed and amended those policies as promised at Errol’s inquest.

The court has ordered that a two-day hearing be listed to consider the case.

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:

“We are delighted that the court has given permission for this case to proceed to a full hearing. Our client believes that the DWP’s current safeguarding policies are not fit for purpose as they expose vulnerable individuals to a significant risk of harm, as was so tragically illustrated by Errol’s death.

“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.”

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