Two former DWP ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling are potentially being investigated by police in Scotland over their handling of the disability ‘fit to work’ tests.
According to disabled activist John McArdle, who runs the Black Triangle campaign, the two ministers had ignored a coroner’s concern over the test’s safety. The tests are used to judge whether a disabled person is entitled to benefits, and as a result of unfair handling, John McArdle lodged a complaint with Edinburgh police in March. He is convinced the ministers may be guilty of neglecting their duties willingly, and as public officials, this is a criminal offence. Shockingly, McArdle also provided evidence of suicides which may well have been as a result of the ‘fit-to-work’ test for benefits, again proving that they were somewhat unsafe.
Despite a coroners concern for their safety, the ministers failed to take steps to improving the WCA – working capability assessments back in 2010. The case of Stephen Carre in January 2010, is said to be what triggered McArdle’s complaint against the against the ministers in the first place. Carre’s suicide came right after being told that according to the test, he was fit to work. Carre lost his appeal and was forced to work despite being diagnosed with Bipolar and clinical depression. According to the coroner, the decision that he was ‘fit for work’ had been the trigger for his suicide. Coroner Tom Osbourne had then written to Grayling and Duncan Smith, asking that the tests be reviewed in the light of mental illness, but the letters were ignored. McArdle believes, it was the notion of ignoring this warning, that has led to more deaths since.
The investigation is ongoing and the police are awaiting further information of the matter to see what action is required. The crown prosecution service has explained that wilful neglect (the charge against Duncan Smith and Grayling) can be the result of failing to act, or the result of a positive act.