The parents of a disabled man who took his own lif

first_imgThe parents of a disabled man who took his own life after being wrongly found “fit for work” have backed attempts to persuade Scottish police to investigate the actions of former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.David and Maureen Barr have both told Disability News Service (DNS) that Duncan Smith and former employment minister Chris Grayling should be prosecuted over their failure to address serious safety concerns about the work capability assessment (WCA).Their son, also called David (pictured), and also from Fife, was just 28 when he took his own life on 23 August 2013.Despite his history of significant mental distress, David’s parents believe the healthcare professional who assessed him – employed by the government contractor Atos – failed to contact their son’s GP or his psychiatrist for further information about his mental health.When questioned afterwards by the Procurator Fiscal’s office – which investigates sudden deaths in Scotland – the assessor claimed he couldn’t remember if he had made any phone calls, according to David’s father.The Atos assessor completed David’s assessment by concluding, in June 2013: “He reports self harm in the past. He reports he attempted an overdose six weeks ago but he would not say what he took.“He reports he has had no thoughts of suicide since. The evidence overall suggests that he is not at substantial risk.”Despite David appealing against the decision that he was fit for work, and telling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in a letter that he had “serious mental health problems that prevent me from doing everyday tasks which means I cannot work at this moment in time”, the Atos advice was rubber-stamped by DWP decision-makers.The decision that he was not eligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) was confirmed in a letter to David on 17 July 2013. A month later, he took his own life.His death is one of three cases contained in a dossier submitted to Police Scotland by disabled activist John McArdle, from the user-led campaign network Black Triangle, in an attempt to persuade the force to open an investigation into Duncan Smith and Grayling.McArdle wants Police Scotland to investigate the two former ministers for the Scottish criminal offence of wilful neglect of duty by a public official, because they failed to take steps to improve the WCA in 2010 after being warned by a coroner that its flaws risked causing future deaths of people with mental health conditions.Police Scotland has been handed details of three people – including David Barr – who died in the years after the coroner sent his letter to DWP, and whose deaths campaigners believe could have been prevented if the two ministers had acted on that warning.The force is currently awaiting further information about the three cases before deciding what action to take.This week, David Barr’s parents spoke of their hope for justice for their much-loved son, whose death they believe could have been avoided if Duncan Smith and Grayling had taken action.David Barr senior said his son’s mental health had deteriorated in the last couple of years of his life, but he had previously been able to work intermittently in agriculture and labouring, while his final job, which ended in 2011, was cleaning buses.By the time he died he was no longer capable of working, his dad said, and he was taking strong medication including anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, and was experiencing paranoid delusions.David’s father, a bus driver, said: “His mind was gone, and anybody who assessed him should have seen that.”He told DNS this week that he was fully behind attempts to secure a prosecution.He said: “If we let a defective bus in the road [and it killed someone] we would be up for manslaughter; that’s why these people should be taken to court.“They are talking about taking the former prime minister to court for war crimes, but this is just as bad, if not worse. They knew about it and did nothing about it.“The whole thing is shocking. The ministers in charge of it should have sorted something out, stopped it, changed it, re-directed it, I don’t know what.”He added: “If I see Duncan Smith on the TV, I just have to walk out, turn it off. I hate the man with a vengeance.“He has known what was going on and he did nothing about it. He wants to be dragged over the coals for this, and if I can help in any way I will.”David’s mother Maureen – David senior’s ex-wife – also backed calls for a criminal prosecution.She said: “It is time someone did something. [Otherwise] there will just be more like David and nothing is ever done.“It makes you feel terrible that they should have done something [and didn’t].”His father is certain that the decision to turn down David’s ESA claim was the trigger that led to his decision to kill himself, against a background of continuing financial pressures.He remembers finding his son’s WCA report and all of his other official paperwork scattered over the floor of his flat after he died.He said: “It was just dumped all over the floor; anything to do with anything official, he’d just had enough of it. That’s when I picked it up and read through it, this 33-page assessment.”David’s mother Maureen said she believed the “fit for work” decision was “definitely” the trigger for his decision to take his own life.She said: “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”Several weeks after he died, two DWP officials visited the family and admitted that David should have been receiving ESA instead of jobseeker’s allowance for nearly two years.David’s father said: “They were here for about an hour-and-a-half explaining everything. But these two – through Iain Duncan Smith – had killed my son, and I said this to them.“They knew that what they had done was wrong and I said to them, ‘Had it been your children in my son’s situation, would you have acted the same way?’ They couldn’t answer that.“I gave it to them with both barrels and they walked out with their tails between their legs, but it didn’t bring my son back.”DWP paid the family £2,700 in compensation for the extra social security support David had not received while he was alive (the difference between the jobseeker’s allowance he received and the ESA he should have been receiving).Maureen Barr said: “They turned around and said, ‘I don’t suppose it will help now, but we have reversed the decision.’“I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘What good is that to him now?’”last_img read more

A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… A Labour police and crime commissioner is facing criticism from within his own party for endorsing his force’s “disgraceful” decision to pass video footage and other information about disabled anti-fracking protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).Wayne Blackburn, co-chair of Disability Labour but also a borough councillor in Lancashire, has written to police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw to express his alarm and shock at the tactics of Lancashire police.Cllr Blackburn is among scores of disabled campaigners who have raised similar concerns since Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last month that the force had passed information and footage of disabled protesters to DWP – in an apparent attempt to have their disability benefits removed – and then claimed that it had “a duty” to do so.Two senior political figures – Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell and the Green party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley – have also called for an inquiry into claims that Lancashire police officers have targeted and assaulted disabled people taking part in the protests.The DNS reports mostly focused on police tactics during peaceful protests about the drilling activities of the energy company Cuadrilla at Preston New Road, on the edge of Blackpool.Cllr Blackburn told Grunshaw in the letter that he was “deeply concerned” to hear that Lancashire police was passing information and footage to DWP, which he said was “in clear contravention of any person’s right to peaceful protest”.He said he agreed with McDonnell (pictured at Preston New Road) that these tactics were “shocking” and “unacceptable”, and he said that he was “personally disappointed” that Grunshaw supported the force’s actions.Cllr Blackburn has asked Grunshaw a series of questions about the force’s relationship with DWP, including asking him: “Are you concerned that you and Lancashire Police are adding to the Conservatives’ hostile environment towards disabled people?”A spokesperson for Grunshaw told DNS that he was “aware of the concerns raised and will be responding to the questions posed by Cllr Blackburn”.Following the DNS reports on Lancashire police sharing information with DWP, many disabled campaigners took to social media to express their alarm.Mark Brown, who writes and speaks about mental health issues, said on Twitter that the force’s actions needed to be seen in the context of “15 years of anti benefits rhetoric” which had led to social security turning into “social surveillance”.He said: “In the UK we’ve tried to drive down public spending by activating people’s worst instincts and then telling them they’re good boys for telling tales.“Disabled people, especially people with #mentalhealth difficulties, live in fear of malicious fraud allegations.”After Lancashire police defended its actions on Twitter – telling DNS that it had a “duty” to contact DWP if it had information “to suggest fraud may be being committed” – there was widespread anger among disabled people, including those claiming benefits.The Mental Health Resistance Network tweeted in response: “This is truly shocking. So even the police have joined in the war against disabled people.”Another mental health activist, Rick Burgess, tweeted: “The uniting of the shadow DWP penal system and the established criminal justice system, where if one cannot get you the other will, is a highly significant intersection.“We are now under full Stasi like conditions.”Activist and researcher Caroline Richardson, a member of the Spartacus Network of disabled campaigners, said the force’s actions were “discriminatory and frightening”.She said on Twitter: “Being reported maliciously for fraud is more worrying than being assessed.“This sends a clear message that if you protest then the Police will report you on suspicion of fraud, without reason/evidence/proof.”Film-maker and author Richard Butchins told the force on Twitter: “Your officers can have no idea if fraud is being committed but they are clearly spiteful petty minded servants of those in power – disgraceful behaviour.”Dr Jay Watts, an activist and consultant clinical psychologist, said such actions were “an affront to civil liberties of disabled people” and that a few minutes of video from a protest gave “a false perception of ability”, with disabled protesters often facing “weeks of physical and psychological backlash afterwards but do so to make the world fairer”.Paula Peters, a member of the Disabled People Against Cuts national steering group, said the police actions were “horrendous and disgusting”, and that “attacking disabled protestors then reporting them” was “the lowest of the low”.Felicity McKee told Lancashire police: “You can have a disability and leave the house. We don’t just sit inside all day.“Disabilities can vary from day to day, as some days I’m better than others. That isn’t fraud [it is] just fact. What you’ve done is so immoral it’s shocking.”Another Twitter user with a fluctuating condition, @mookpixie, said: “This is disgraceful. My illness is mostly invisible and varies hugely from hour to hour, let alone day to day.“Most times I leave the house for an hour or two, I then spend days in bed recovering. Could you tell all that from video footage of me leaving the house? No.”And @neonwheelchair tweeted: “I very, very rarely leave the house now as if they took my PIP away, I’d end up homeless. We can barely eat as it is and can’t heat our home.”Another, @vashti, added: “You guys suck. You are the reason I’m too frightened to go outside even when, well within my PIP criteria, I’m well enough to do so.”Meanwhile, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it was not aware of any targeting of disabled protesters at anti-fracking protests.An NPCC spokesperson added: “If an incident has occurred contrary to that, it is for the force’s professional standards department to address it in the strongest possible terms.”Terry Woods, assistant chief constable for Lancashire police and the NPCC lead on shale, gas and oil exploration, said in a statement: “Police forces will always facilitate the right to peaceful protest, while ensuring that disruption to their local communities is kept to a minimum. “Police officers are trained in maintaining public order and using the minimal force to do that. “When an officer does need to use force they are accountable for ensuring it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. “Existing guidance on dealing with fracking protests is currently under review by the College of Policing.“No police guidance has ever, or would ever, recommend targeting disabled people.”A College of Policing spokesperson said it hoped to launch a public consultation on its updated guidance on the policing of long-term protests in the first quarter of 2019.The guidance will contain a section about protests focused on onshore oil and gas exploration.Picture by Gathering Place Filmslast_img read more

Labour has been divided in its reaction to the new

first_imgLabour has been divided in its reaction to the news that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is prepared to launch an investigation into the Labour Party over its handling of antisemitism – with some shadow ministers welcoming the move.It was revealed last night that the watchdog, which was set up under a Labour government, received dossiers of antisemitism complaints from the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Antisemitism last year. This morning, an EHRC spokesperson confirmed that it believes “Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs”.According to the original Jewish Chronicle report, Labour has known about the possible investigation for some weeks. The EHRC has confirmed that it is “now engaging with the Labour Party to give them an opportunity to respond”.If the EHRC finds the party has a case to answer based on the complaint dossiers of JLM and CAA, it may use “statutory enforcement powers”. These sanctions could see Labour forced to prepare an action plan to address the problems in how it deals with disciplinary cases involving antisemitism.A Labour Party spokesperson responded to the news saying: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC. Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.”But Baroness Glenys Thornton, a shadow minister in the Lords, tweeted: “I think it’s shameful that @EHRC are launching an investigation into @UKLabour but it’s the right thing to do. I have been advising that this is only way to sort out this awful business for over a year. I hope this will be welcomed by my colleagues in the Shadow Equalities Team.”Steve Reed, also a shadow minister, said: “Let’s hope this finally rids the party of the tiny racist minority, their enablers and apologists who are dragging our great party’s reputation through the sewer.” And Brexit shadow minister Jenny Chapman – part of Keir Starmer’s team – agreed, tweeting: “Well said.”Similarly, backbencher Margaret Hodge commented: “Faith in Labour’s complaints process is at rock bottom. It’s essential the EHRC make all necessary inquiries. We desperately need a culture of zero tolerance towards antisemitism in the Labour Party.”JLM activist Ruth Smeeth described it as a “necessary step”, adding: “I welcome the EHRC intervention but today is another dark day in the history of our party, which could and should have been avoided if concerns had been heeded last year.”So far, no shadow cabinet members have commented on the possible investigation.Tags:Antisemitism /EHRC /last_img read more

Autopsy of Paitin Fields pending could take several months

first_imgPENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Five weeks ago, a Pender County child died after allegedly being raped and strangled.As investigators wait to get the final autopsy report, WWAY just found out it still isn’t finished.- Advertisement – 5-year-old Paitin Fields died November 15.The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says the autopsy was performed at the East Carolina University Division of Autopsy and Forensic Services.When we called ECU they said the autopsy is currently pending and no further information could be released at this time.Related Article: Ex-football player admits running business to bribe athletesThey also told us by law they have 180 days to complete the autopsy.There have been no arrests in the case.last_img

Laney girls title quest ends in East finals

first_imgLaney girls defeat Hoggard to win the Mideastern Conference title on Feb. 16, 2018. (Photo: Dustin Dorsey/WWAY) FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — The Laney girls basketball team’s season came to an end Saturday evening with a loss to Southeast Raleigh in the 4A East Region Finals at Capel Arena in Fayetteville.The third-seeded Lady Bucs jumped out early to claim a 15-14 at the end of the first period, but Southeast Raleigh took control in the second to take a 32-26 lead into the locker room at halftime and never looked back.- Advertisement – The Bulldogs pulled away in fourth to claim a 55-39 win and a berth in the state championship next weekend. Saniya Rivers led Laney with a game-high 21 points along with 11 rebounds. Jenson Edwards (10 points) and Lexi Melville (8) were the only other Buccaneers to score. Anya Poole set the pace for the Bulldogs with 16 point and 18 boards, including eight offensive rebounds.Laney ends the year with a 28-3 record. Southeast Raleigh is 30-0.The Bulldogs face the winner of Saturday night’s West Region Final between Mallard Creek and Northwest Guilford March 10 for the 4A title.last_img read more

14th annual Rims on the River revs up downtown

first_imgHundreds of people came out to take a look at some classic cars on Front Street on June 9, 2018. (Photo: Basil John/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If you went to Front Street on Saturday, you may have seen a couple hundred cars lining the streets.That’s because it was the 14th annual Rims on the River.Hundreds of people came out despite on and off rain. From American muscle to exotics, owners were doing their best to show off the style of their cars, some catching the attention of spectators more than others. Some people say it’s an event where you can really take a moment and appreciate the view.- Advertisement – “It’s their pride and joy so they definitely look after it and it’s expensive so it’s nice to see them get out and share with everybody what they’ve accomplished I guess. We get to see some rebuilt and the rat rides are kind of neat too but we enjoy all of it,” spectator Phil Blanton said.Many people were prepared for the rain but it didn’t stay for long. Some people visiting said they’ll come back again next year for this.last_img read more

Churches host 3rd annual Night to Shine prom

first_img Event coordinators Christy Ferrante and Kelli Strickland say there were more than 300 guests plus their buddies at the event.Ferrante says they want every guest to feel special.“The purpose is just to show them God loves them no matter how, and he created them uniquely and wonderful. And they’re just as wonderful. And we just want to celebrate their life,” Ferrante said.Caregivers were also invited to enjoy a relaxing night. The event included a red carpet, karaoke and dancing. Night to Shine rolled out a red carpet when guests arrived. (Photo: Kylie Jones) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It truly was a night to shine. Lifepoint Church and Global River Church hosted Wilmington’s third annual Night to Shine Prom Friday night.The event is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, and there are more than 600 churches around the country participating in the event.- Advertisement – last_img read more

County approves budget no funds included to continue agreement with Coastline Volunteer

first_img “Please don’t take something so valuable away from our community,” said neighbor Annette Cortes before the commission.County commissioners heard from Coastline Rescue Chief David Robinson, former assistant chief Taryn Clemmons, and Cortes before voting on the budget.“Last year we did over 200 transports and that was 200 transports that EMS did not have to do,” said Robinson. “They were freed up to take care of other situations in the county.”Related Article: Council approves WPD crime lab transfer, funds for new Shotspotter programThe county alerted the rescue squad back in May that they would not renew the contract agreement that allows them to operate in the county. This led to an effort by Robinson and those who are directly serviced by the squadron to try and change the commission’s mind.“Many times have they come in seconds to somebody’s rescue,” said Cortes. “Anything that we needed they are there for us. I want y’all to please reconsider what y’all are doing to our community.”Commissioners did not reconsider. County leaders say the calls for service played a large role in their decision.“It’s not that they made 25% of their calls, it’s the fact that they missed 75% of their calls,” said commission vice chair Randy Thompson. “We appreciate the service that Coastline has provided for the last 42 years.”Commissioner Thompson applauded the squadron for their work in the past, but says the county is growing and volunteer agencies like Coastline are going in a different direction.“In my tenure as the Emergency Services director I worked directly with Coastline,” said Thompson. “I know the value. I also know how difficult it is to maintain a volunteer operation.”Coastline crew members say that volunteer aspect of the operation set the groundwork for EMS services in the county and continues to save taxpayer dollars. Robinson says the county annually provided the squadron with $36,000 to operate with. The remaining funds they gathered through fundraising and gifts.“It’s a vital cost to the community because our costs are lower and we’re not charging the taxpayers,” said former assistant chief Taryn Clemmons.The county will turn that funding over to the new budget as it increases the EMS fund by roughly $1.4 million.“We are not changing our level of service, we are not decreasing our level of service, we are trying to improve our level of service,” said EMS deputy director Lyle Johnston.Now with no funding, all the squadron can do is try to fight for keeping the agreement.“If it comes without funding we’ll continue to do that one way or another,” said Robinson. “The main thing is we have to keep a franchise in order to do that.”Johnston says the county will replace outdated EMS units with five new ambulances. This will added to the ambulances that the county could purchase from Leland EMS according to their separate agreement.According to Robinson, the squadron will end operating in the county on July 20th if no new agreement is reached. BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Another volunteer EMS and rescue agency is out in Brunswick County. County leaders approved their budget Monday without funding for the Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad.The county’s approval of the 2019-2020 budget left out funds for Leland Fire and Rescue and now Coastline Volunteer Rescue. County leaders say both cases are different. They say in Leland’s case, the town asked for too much money to fund their EMS service. In the case of Coastline, county leaders think they can do a better job responding to calls.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Russia eases path to citizenship for east Ukraine residents

first_imgFILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to meet French business leaders at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERSFILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to meet French business leaders at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Alexander Nemenov/Pool via REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.Separatist rebellions broke out against Ukrainian rule in both regions in 2014. Moscow provided military help for the separatists, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support.Large swathes of the two regions are now under the de facto control of the Moscow-backed rebels, while Kiev says it is determined to re-assert its control, a position backed by most Western countries.There was no immediate reaction from Kiev to Putin’s order. Ukrainian officials are likely to react angrily to any indication Moscow is drawing the rebel regions closer into its own orbit.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Google unveils streamingmedia globe

first_imgAdvertisement At I/O, Google announced that the Nexus Q is an offshoot of Project Tungsten, the company’s home automation division. The black, spherical body of the server is fairly small at 4.6 inches in diameter, and it weighs 2 pounds, according to the product page.Inside the Nexus Q is an OMAP 4460 dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU with an SGX540 graphics core. The processor is accompanied by 1GB of RAM and 16GB of flash memory. According to the New York Times, the player “has a single control: the volume can be turned up or down by grabbing and twisting the dome that makes up the top half of the device.”Google touted the Nexus Q as being designed to encourage “general hackability,” though it did not elaborate further. – Advertisement – The presenter did note that multiple Nexus Qs can be set up to work with one another throughout the house; changing music on one changes it and plays it through the rest. Another use case mentioned was a collaborative playlist, where a bunch of friends hanging out with their Android devices can each contribute songs to the list from their Google Play accounts.As for movie-watching, the experience is meant to be seamless: users can start a movie on an Android tablet, pick it up again on their TV with the Nexus Q, and then stop and pick it up again on an Android smartphone. The Android 4.1 device’s ports include Micro HDMI, TOSLink Optical audio, Ethernet, micro AB USB (for service and support only, Google says), and banana jack speaker outputs. Supported apps include Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV, and YouTube.The device is priced at $299 and will ship in July (the product page currently shows a 2-3 week ship time). Google is also selling a pair of accessories to go with the Nexus Q: a pair of bookshelf speakers for $399, and two speaker cables for $49.Source: CNNlast_img read more