Tomlinson faces call to resign over PIP harassment of child abuse survivor


A minister has been urged to resign, after he threatened a traumatised child abuse survivor – who is waiting to give evidence about the abuse in court – that his benefits would be stopped if he failed to co-operate with an Atos reassessment.

David* is a key witness in the trial and has been told by police not to discuss his case with anyone, or to allow DWP or its assessment contractor Atos access to his medical records, because the court proceedings are now live and the case is sub judice.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) finally agreed earlier this month to stop contacting David until after the end of the trial, after Disability News Service (DNS) and his local MP drew its attention to his case.

But despite this agreement, Atos sent him a further letter, while Justin Tomlinson (pictured) – the minister for disabled people – wrote to his MP threatening that David’s benefits would be stopped within just two days if he did not submit to a reassessment of his personal independence payment (PIP) claim.

David has severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by the horrific child abuse he suffered as a child, and which has led to several suicide attempts.

Even though the toll of the criminal investigation on his mental health has been harrowing, resulting in a series of self-harm episodes, DWP has continued its attempts to force him to submit to a PIP reassessment, even though it has been told repeatedly that his health records are part of the court case.

David only found out about Tomlinson’s threat this week, when the minister’s letter was forwarded to him by his MP.

In a covering letter, David’s MP told him: “I do not normally comment on ministerial responses, as they are quite capable of speaking for themselves, but I will say that in this case I feel Justin displays a lack of humanity and understanding that does himself and you a great disservice.”

David said Tomlinson’s behaviour was “a disgusting, vile attack” on a vulnerable witness by a government minister, and called on him to resign.

He said Tomlinson “should not be anywhere near” vulnerable disabled people after his “insensitive, demeaning” actions, and added: “I wouldn’t put this guy in charge of a broom cupboard.”

David had already forced an apology from DWP after he received a letter last week – which apparently was “generated by Atos in error” – warning him the contractor had requested evidence from people involved in his care, and that he may have to attend a face-to-face benefits assessment.

Both letters – from Tomlinson and from Atos – were sent several days after DWP and Atos agreed that there should be no further contact with David until his trial was finished.

DNS has already revealed that DWP contacted the police force investigating the abuse allegations to ask about his evidence, and had to be told twice by officers that its actions were causing David “considerable stress and distress”, that he was a witness in their investigation, and that details of his abuse-related health condition were sub-judice.

The force is not commenting on these claims – while Tomlinson has denied any DWP contact with the police – but DNS has established that there have been several communications between DWP and the force, whose officers have continued to tell the department that it cannot release information about the case.

David’s treatment throws a harsh light yet again on DWP policies and procedures for dealing with vulnerable people, an issue highlighted last month when the department was finally forced to publish redacted versions of 49 secret “peer reviews” into the deaths of benefit claimants.

Those peer reviews showed that ministers were repeatedly warned by their own civil servants that their policies to assess people for disability benefits were putting the lives of vulnerable claimants at risk.

David’s MP had written to work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb to ask him to review how his department had treated him, and it was that letter that Tomlinson was responding to.

The MP said in the letter that he/she believed DWP had failed in its duty of care towards David.

The letter added: “Sometimes intentionally, sometimes because of mistakes, errors or miscommunication within DWP they have continuously harassed him, reviewing his case unnecessarily, suspending benefits on a number of occasions, seeking details or interviews which could prejudice the criminal case and have in any case contributed to high levels of anxiety and distress being suffered by [David].

“Whilst I am only aware of [David’s] experience I would be surprised if others had not suffered similar treatment.”

The MP also asked Crabb to ensure that David continued to receive PIP and be exempt from any further medical assessments until after the trial.

David, who is currently recovering from an operation, said his treatment at the hands of DWP and Atos had been “dehumanising and humiliating”, a “grotesque breach” of his privacy, and “the most outrageously obscene way to treat someone”.

He refused to accept DWP’s apology about the Atos letter, and noted that the department had apologised via DNS, and not to him, and that he wanted an apology from a work and pensions minister, rather than a press officer.

David also said he had no idea whether his PIP and his employment and support allowance (ESA) were still being paid, and that he was “fearful of contacting them over this”.

He was appalled when, a day after a DWP press officer confirmed to DNS that he was still receiving PIP and ESA, he received a payment into his bank account that suggested that he was no longer receiving ESA and had instead been placed on jobseeker’s allowance.

He then received a call yesterday (Wednesday) from a GP from his local surgery, apparently attempting to assess his state of mental health over the telephone on behalf of DWP.

A DWP spokesman claimed that Tomlinson had been trying to underline in his letter that David needed to be reassessed, although he was also “trying to communicate in every way possible… that we were going to try and leave [David] alone and not contact him, in acknowledgement of the fact that he is a vulnerable person and he is going through a trial”.  

When asked why DWP and Tomlinson appeared intent on harassing and persecuting David, the spokesman said: “In no way is this persecution, in no way are we trying to hound [David].

“What we are trying to do is follow what we have to do with PIP, which is assess people so we can make sure they are getting the benefits that they need to be getting.”

He said in a statement: “In the minister’s letter he says that wherever possible in these situations PIP reassessments can be carried out in consultation with the patient’s GP and using other medical evidence provided.

“However, if there is not enough information available, a face-to-face assessment needs to take place.

“The assessment process is key to ensuring that the benefit is fairly distributed, so that it can fulfil its purpose of supporting people who have extra living costs due to their disability.”

He added: “When a claimant states that they do not wish to be contacted about their case or reassessment, they are advised that wherever possible we will do this in discussion with their GP without their involvement. This is always made clear to the claimant.”

But David said he believed his life was now at risk as a result of Tomlinson’s actions and those of his department, while he felt that he had been “utterly abandoned to this vindictive violation of my human rights”.

He said: “Every day is a struggle to live, robbed wholly of my dignity by the criminal process and further humiliated by the DWP’s utter inhumanity and failure to grasp my harsh predicament.

“The original PIP assessment indicated that I required additional support. I don’t currently receive any support from any service and life’s bleak.

“It’s not simply a question of money, but of life, living in guilt and fear, struggling with the horrors of childhood, and its impact upon one’s working life.

“I do not accept their apology, and thus again seek further discussion as to why they treated me in this manner and how they will assure me of my welfare.”

He is hoping that Crabb will agree to meet him to discuss his treatment.

He added: “In the Irish Republic they have a small government agency that specifically assists abuse survivors. Here we are alone and it’s not acceptable.

“My human rights were violated as a child and since. Both government and wider society need to stop, listen and act accordingly.”

An Atos spokeswoman said: “We apologise for any distress caused; the letter referred to was sent in error.”

A DWP spokesman said this morning (Thursday) that the review of David’s PIP claim had begun in June 2015 but the department had “made a special decision” to delay his reassessment for a year.

He said that procedures had been followed for cases in which a vulnerable claimant had failed to return their PIP2 claim form, and that Atos had contacted one of David’s GPs to gather information about his claim in an attempt to see if it was possible to carry out a paper-based assessment of his PIP eligibility.

DWP said David’s entitlement to PIP ended on 16 June and he would receive his last payment on 30 June. He said that David was still receiving ESA.

The spokesman added: “In summary [David] is still being reassessed for PIP and the department are accommodating him under additional support procedures.

“In order to continue to receive PIP he must be reassessed.

“This reassessment is in progress and may not require any contact with [David].

“We are awaiting evidence from his GP, and once we receive it we will be able to judge if it provides enough information for a paper-based decision to be made.”

Despite promising to do so, the spokesman failed to respond to concerns about Tomlinson’s apparent harassment of a vulnerable benefit claimant, and why DWP was refusing to exempt David from the reassessment process until the end of the trial.

*Not his real name

  • User Ratings (4 Votes)
  • Mwxxx .

    “Whilst I am only aware of [David’s] experience I would be surprised if others had not suffered similar treatment.”

    I have my hand raised – phobosanddeimos dot net

    > David has severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
    > caused by the horrific child abuse he suffered as a child,

    Checkout the dwp’s –
    ‘WCA Evidence Based Medicine Protocols’.
    The direct quote from page 15 of the dwp’s – Adjustment Disorders and PTSD.pdf states…

    “The slow recovery times show that, for purposes of disability assessment, TWO-year
    reassessments, up to a 6-year MAXIMUM, are indicated.”

    “Disability assessments performed at intervals of less than 2 years are unlikely to
    show much change, and after a 6-year interval, those chronically disabled are likely
    to remain so.”

    How come no one has told ‘David’ about that?

    Google – Witness Intimidation, Misconduct in Public Office, Perverting The Course Of Justice, Vulnerable Adult Abuse and all the other stuff the hot air blowers ignore.

    What are those ‘police’ doing? (surely not covering up child abuse? that never happens)

    Oh, and apology’s, however insincere, are nice. (Mr Pring)

    • Lesley Barrett

      I was also subjected to rape and sexual abuse as a child, and my potential was severely stunted, adult information in a child’s vulnerable mind and body is a violation of the worst kind and especially as there was no one to talk to as this was in 1959 when i was 9. I believe my immune system breakdown was partly caused by PTSD. To subject a child to this brutality leaves psychological scars no one can ever know or judge unless it has happened to them and even then everyone is different. I despise the way the DWP, Atos/Capita and Ministers have conducted themselves, treating people as less than human and lying about interviews and treating them with contempt and many are the genuine ones. What has this country come too, no wonder many voted out as they were desperate to get rid of the potential jailers and torturers who have left so many people worrying, sicker and stressed, let alone killing many, the elderly pensioners who are sick waiting years to be seen feeling the powers that be are just hoping they will die as they are looked at as a drain on society through no fault of their own. Your all a disgrace, so stop giving monitory incentives to those who carry out these assessments, and make sure they are ethical and decent who are allowed to take on this task and to do it with compassion.

      • Mwxxx .

        Very well said Lesley,

        I hope that the info on the dwp’s ‘WCA Evidence Based Medicine Protocols’ is v.useful to you and others.

        Google – Adjustment Disorders and PTSD.pdf
        The pdf is on the whatdotheyknow dot com site.

        BTW – I still have my hand raised. Nothing from that un-named (mythical?) MP in the story. I wonder if any of it is true? no one else has run this story. I cant find any of those ‘calls for Tomlinson to resign’. And no evidence published here.

        • MP is unnamed for legal reasons. Can’t identify the survivor. Won’t risk justice for your sake. Call to resign came from David, as is stated in the story. Please don’t libel me or you’ll be blocked.

          • Mwxxx .

            >Please don’t libel me or you’ll be blocked.

            More empty “libel” threats from DNS.
            No change there then. I think I should publish the threatening emails he has sent to me, and where DNS gets his cash from.

            Google – Witness Intimidation , Bribery Act.

            Naming an MP who, apparently, is willing to do something vaguely resembling it’s job ‘risks’ nothing.

            >Call to resign came from David
            So no one else then.

          • Just asking you respectfully not to accuse me of making up stories. I take my reputation as a journalist seriously. I believe my emails were only asking you not to libel me and other people. As for where DNS gets its cash from, my subscribers are all published on my website, under ‘subscribers’. I currently have no advertisers, other than a contra deal with ReadSpeaker, and am struggling to survive financially. I really think you shouldn’t hide behind cowardly anonymity if you’re making these kind of comments. Have the guts to come out and reveal your identity. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work…

          • Mwxxx .

            >”I really think you shouldn’t hide behind cowardly anonymity”
            >”Have the guts to come out and reveal your identity”
            Lie… My email replies to your empty threats included my full name.

            As I have already had “We know where you live” intimidation from Labour party criminals, I will not put that info about me online.

            Debbie Abrahams MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP are members of a gang called the ‘Labour Party’. Partly funded by a union called Unison…
            A lot of the criminal abusing quacks at Atos/Maximus are members of Unison.

            The blind eye turning silence that I have personally had from Labour party run Local Council and Welsh Government and Labour Police and Crime Commissioner and Labour MP’s, including Jeremy Corbyn is called “Wilful Neglect of a Public Duty” (that’s up to life in prison for Misconduct in Public Office)
            It’s also “Improper Performance” (read the Bribery Act)
            phobosanddeimos dot net

            Stating provable facts is not, to quote you – “highly libellous”
            Google “Witness Intimidation”
            and “Protection from Harassment Act 1997”
            (this is your third strike, of two)
            and “Vulnerable Adult Abuse”

            two of your paying subscribers are Disability Rights UK (employed by the DWP and Maximus) and Disability Wales (funded by the Labour Party run Welsh Government)

            >”my subscribers are all published on my website, under ‘subscribers'”
            Really? can’t find that here. I had to look it up on a web cache.

            >”Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work…”
            That’s nice, wish that I could work, all the energy that I have has to be used up trying to scrape sick criminal abusers off my back.
            I’ll say it yet again…
            DO NOT WRITE AGAIN Is that clear enough for you this time sicko?


          • Apologies, the information about DNS subscribers was in the advertisers section for some reason – my mistake. I’ve now moved it to the About DNS section of the website. I’m sorry you’re so angry, but I have to reserve the right to delete posts from my website that I believe could be libellous, to protect myself from potential legal action. And I also reserve the right to respond to posts that are placed on my website, particularly those that are personally abusive.

  • Diana Smith

    I am registered disabled with limited mobility following an industrial accident caused by my employers the National Health Service. Under the rules l have an industrial accident certificate that means my pension stamp has to be paid for me by way of being on a benefit that does this. My benefits were wrongly stopped in late 2010 until mid September 2011, when it was finally realised they had no right to stop them ( something l did tell them). The money was back paid, but trying to stop the planned tribunal hearing going ahead , when it was not then needed, was something else. These people do not talk to each other . The Tribunal Staff said it was not a case of them not believing me, they just needed it in writing from the DWP. I had a whole week telephoning both, passing messages. This was after l had had a mini stroke in February 2011 with the stress of my benefits being stopped and not being able to afford bills and to eat. I did not get any form of apology and the whole thing was dragged out further as the person who was meant to correct it “manually”, went off on maternity leave without telling anyone it needed correcting.