A senior civil servant has refused to allow the mother of a woman who took her own life – after being repeatedly failed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to see a secret report into her daughter’s death.
Jodey Whiting (pictured) died in February 2017, 15 days after she had her out-of-work disability benefits mistakenly stopped for missing a work capability assessment (WCA).
But Emma Haddad, DWP’s director general for service excellence, has now told Joy Dove, Whiting’s mother, that she cannot see a secret internal review that was carried out into her daughter’s death.
She told her in a letter: “We do not share Internal Process Reviews due to the personal customer data they contain.”
But only last week, work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd revealed key details from another internal process review (IPR) to MP Frank Field, the chair of the Commons work and pensions committee.
That review was carried out following the death of Stephen Smith, who died in April, months after he was found fit for work by DWP despite being in hospital with such severe health problems that his weight had fallen to six stone.
There appears to be no legal reason why an IPR cannot be released to the next-of-kin in full, if the work and pensions secretary gives her or his permission for it to be released.
This week, a DWP spokesperson said the letter to Field was simply “outlining the outcome of the Internal Process Review into Stephen Smith’s case rather than a full copy of the report”.
She added: “We do not share Internal Process Reviews due to the personal customer data they contain.”
John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said today (Thursday): “It is morally reprehensible that the DWP is attempting to hide behind a cloak of secrecy.
“Joy has an absolute right to know the contents and conclusions drawn from the DWP internal review into her daughter Jodey’s death.
“This denial only strengthens our case for a full independent judicial inquiry into Jodey’s case.
“We would like to add our voices to Joy’s in demanding full disclosure of the entire review immediately, no ifs, no buts.”
The letter from Haddad contained written answers to questions put to her by Dove – and prepared with the help of Disability News Service (DNS) – during a face-to-face meeting that took place earlier this month.
In the letter, Haddad also refused to tell her whether any DWP civil servant had been disciplined for the failings that led to her daughter’s death.
The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) concluded earlier this year that DWP was guilty of “multiple” and “significant” failings in handling the case.
But a DWP spokesperson said this week: “We discussed with Mrs Dove the actions taken as a result of Jodey’s case, including corrective actions, but we cannot discuss any specific actions taken in relation to individual members of staff.”
Haddad also refused to say if she believed that it was ministers or civil servants who were responsible for Jodey Whiting’s death, stating only that ICE “provided a thorough and in-depth review of how we dealt with Jodey’s case and what failings had taken place”.
A DWP spokesperson added: “The Independent Case Examiner did not find any evidence of misconduct by Civil Servants or Ministers.”
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