MPs have been asked why they are failing to speak out to back calls for a police investigation into alleged criminal misconduct by ministers and civil servants that may have led to the deaths of benefit claimants.The Justice for Jodey Whiting petition* calls for an independent inquiryinto deaths linked to failings by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP),and for any evidence of criminal misconduct by civil servants or governmentministers to be passed to the police.It alsocalls for MPs to recognise that DWP is institutionally disablist and not fitfor purpose, and for DWP to “urgently change its policies and administration ofsocial security benefits to make the safety of all claimants a priority”.Labour, theLiberal Democrats, the Greens – and now the SNP, although it does not acceptthat DWP is institutionally disablist – have all backed the petition, but no MPappears to have spoken publicly yet of the need for evidence of criminalmisconduct to be passed to police.The only suchcomments from a politician appear to have come from Jonathan Bartley, theco-leader of the Greens, who is not an MP, but has made it clear that hebelieves DWP has “blood on its hands”.Disabledactivists have now questioned why MPs have been so reluctant to mention thiskey element of the petition, and they have called on them to speak out aboutthe need for justice for those who have died.Eightfamilies of disabled people whose deaths have been linked to DWP failings haveso far backed the petition, and its call for any evidence of criminalmisconduct that comes from an inquiry to be passed to police.DeniseMcKenna, co-founder of the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), said: “MHRN is determined that therewill eventually be a criminal investigation into benefit deaths, however longwe have to wait. “There is ahuge amount of evidence that many deaths have been a direct result of theactions of the DWP following the policies of this government. “Are thosewho are implicated in these deaths above the law? Are there people ingovernment and government departments who can do whatever harm they want withimpunity? “Disabledpeople will fight for such an investigation; we will continue to do so even ifit takes years to get one. “It seemsstrange and sad that MPs have not been calling for this to happen now. “Why dragthis out for disabled people and the families of those who have lost theirloved ones? “MHRN wantMPs to act now to make this investigation happen as soon as possible. Whyshould we have to wait any longer for what is inevitable?”Bob Ellard,a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “Enough MPs know aboutthe harm and death caused by the hostile environment against disabled peopleperpetrated by this government, but why haven’t they joined the supporters ofthe Jodey Whiting petition in calling for a criminal investigation? “Disabledpeople will be watching for MPs to join the call for a criminal investigation,and we’ll be watching who remains silent.”JohnMcArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “While MPs busy themselvesobsessing with the ludicrous fiasco that is ‘Brexit’ we should like to remindthem that sick and disabled people’s lives are being crushed under the weightof systems and policies that are driving disabled people into destitution,hunger, rent arrears, homelessness and, tragically, suicide.“This, too,requires their urgent, immediate, and undivided attention.“We thinkthat it is unconscionable that we should be forced to jump through hoops toobtain the help and support that we have a right to expect from our electedrepresentatives in the face of such a humanitarian catastrophe.”LauraStringhetti, of the WOWcampaign, said: “For the past nine years, wehave heard of far too many deaths caused by the failings of the DWP. “Each ofthese deaths has left heartbroken families and friends behind. “Yet nothinghas changed; on the contrary, with universal credit things are getting evenworse. “The WOWCampaign believes that an independent inquiry into all the deaths linkedto the DWP is needed; we must know if there has been any misconduct and wewould like to see more MPs speaking out on this matter. “We have thefeeling that a potential criminal investigation might sound extreme to some MPsbut we strongly believe that we owe it to the victims and theirfamilies to find the truth of what happened and if there is a cultureof negligence and victimisation in the DWP, this must be addressed now beforewe have any more unnecessary suffering.” The petitionis backed by five grassroots groups: Black Triangle, DPAC, MHRN, the WOWCampaign and WinVisible, as well as Disability News Service.Among therelatives backing the petition is PeterCarré, whose son Stephen took hisown life in January 2010 after being found fit for work following a workcapability assessment (WCA), with DWP failing to ask his GP or psychiatrist forfurther medical evidence that would have proved his eligibility.His son’s death led to a coroner writing to DWP, just before the 2010general election, warning that the “trigger” for Stephen’s decision to take hisown life had been the decision to find him fit for work, and telling DWP totake action to prevent any further such deaths.The coroner called for a review by DWP of “the decision not to seekmedical advice from the claimant’s own GP or psychiatrist” if they have amental health condition.But Tory ministers failed to act on the coroner’s letter – or to producea proper reply, despite their legal duty to do so – and instead pushed aheadwith plans to reassess hundreds of thousands of people on old-style incapacitybenefit through the WCA.Research would later show that this use of the WCA to reassess claimantsof incapacity benefit was “associated with” hundreds of suicides.*To sign the Justice for Jodey Whiting petition, click on this link. If you sign the petition, please note that you will need to confirm your signature by clicking on an email you will be sent automatically by the House of Commons petitions committeePicture: Jodey Whiting
He replaces Matty Lees in the side after serving a one match suspension.Justin Holbrook will therefore select his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 18. Danny Richardson, 19. Regan Grace, 23. Ben Barba.Daryl Powell will choose his Castleford 17 from:1. Ben Roberts, 2. Greg Minikin, 4. Michael Shenton, 6. Jamie Ellis, 8. Junior Moors, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 11. Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Adam Milner, 14. Nathan Massey, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 17. Alex Foster, 18. Matt Cook, 21. Jake Trueman, 22. James Green, 24. Jy Hitchcox, 28. Kieran Gill, 32. Liam Watts.The game kicks off at 7.45pm and the referee will be announced shortly.Tickets for Thursday’s game remain on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.Free coach travel is available for 2018 Members whilst places last.