Baroness Murphy Describing 12 Welfare Reform Deaths As Nasty & Inaccurate Tosh

Calum McLean made this Freedom of Information request to House of Lords

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The Freedom of Information Officer
The House of Lords
Westminster
London

Dear House of Lords,

Freedom of Information Act 2000
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Many I enquire of the noble Lords a reply to questions in terms of statute and the above legislation?

Question 1. During a well intentioned and genuine effort to help, the Baroness Murphy, whom I also understand is also a medical doctor and esteemed professor, described the reports of Welfare-Reform-Deaths by 12 different journalists in different articles of the deaths of 12 people by suicide, Work Capability Assessment induced heart attack, and in the case of one tragedy the collateral homicide of a five month old child and unborn baby being taken to their death by the pregnant mother as.............

"NASTY AND INACCURATE TOSH"

This on the official House of Lords website...

Source: http://lordsoftheblog.net/2011/09/24/do-...

I can empathise with the Baroness Murphy that one of the other related websites reporting the many Welfare-Reform deaths is shocking. How can it be otherwise? It was created by the friends of another Welfare-Reform-Death victim. In memory of the late Paul Reekie from Edinburgh who committed suicide when notified his Housing Benefit was to be removed. The Baroness writes, and I quote...

"newspaper reports are notoriously inaccurate, they tend to report what others attribute the cause to but obviously do not record what the individual was thinking or feeling or the full circumstance".

My apologies to the Baroness, but she is wrong on so many levels.

My question is this. With all due respect the Baroness has failed to conduct proper due diligence and fallen into a trap of unscientific generalisation. In order for the Baroness Murphy and other Lords and Ladies within the House of Lords to understand the FACTS as opposed to the dismissal of 12 deaths, including unborn children as "Nasty and Inaccurate Tosh"" would the Baroness and the noble members of the House of Lords like me to send the Copy of HM Coroners hearing? This is evidence and FACT of the highest calibre. Even with Parliamentary Privilege, I would be most disappointed were an honourable member of the House of Lords to describe a Coroner of Her Majesty as "Nasty" or "Inaccurate"?

Said Coroner was kind enough to supply me with an official verbatim CD of the Inquest so that I could conduct the due diligence, which sadly the Baroness Murphy was unwilling to do.

Question 2: Given the FACT that Baroness Murphy has written off the deaths of 12 people due to Welfare-Reform problems as "Nasty and Inaccurate Tosh" would the Baroness and the noble Lords like me to supply copies of the actual suicide notes, for example from the late Richard Sanderson.......

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/...

There can be NO ambiguity, nor libelling of the press and media as before his death, Mr Sanderson left a carefully worded suicide note to his wife and child. I quote HM Coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox (not the "Nasty Inaccurate Tosh" press/memorial websites) in the case of this Welfare-Reform-Suicide.....

"After returning a verdict of suicide at Westminster Coroner's Court on Tuesday, 23 August 2011, Dr Fiona Wilcox said: 'What I find particularly tragic in this case is this act appears to be pursued by a man who was not suffering from an illness and appears to have made a considered act in response to his inability to find employment. The FACT his housing benefit was about to be cut and the family would be at risk of having nowhere to live, and being ordered to give up his training course because of the Job Centre's rules, would appear to be especially poignant and tragic.'

The late Mr Sanderson was already a highly qualified, but temporarily unemployed helicopter pilot seeking training in another occupation due to job shortages in his specified profession.

Eventually, Mr Sanderson was pushed over the edge to suicide by the Department of Work and Pensions, via their housing benefit administrators at local authority level looking to save £30 per week in housing benefit and threatening the Sanderson family with homelessness.

Given that the suicide letters are the written words of a father and husband driven to death and recorded indelibly - that these last missives from Mr Sanderson were examined by the police and held as genuine by them and HM Coroner, does the Baroness Murphy REGRET calling such deaths or the recording of such tragedies due to Welfare Reform problems on a memorial website "Nasty and Inaccurate Tosh" ?

Question 3: In light of the above initial examples where it is HM Coroner and NOT press, media or internet driven recording or Welfare Reform Deaths, will the Baroness Murphy APOLOGISE in the Chamber of the House of Lords for misrepresenting the memorial of such tragic deaths as "Nasty and Inaccurate Tosh"?

Question 4: The noble Baroness Murphy should be forgiven for her shock. Most right minded and decent people would be appalled and naturally question the veracity of the 12 reported deaths and 8 other alleged deaths totalling a possible 20 Welfare Reform driven deaths so far under scrutiny.

In order not to offend the Baroness further, I have distilled the initial 12 deaths to be listed on a 'neutral' and generally non-offensive website...

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1...

My final question for now is given there ARE, by the authority and account of HM Coroner, deaths where culpability can be traced to the Department of Work & Pensions and defective Welfare Reform, along with already BADLY FRAMED and evidently DANGEROUS legislation, will the noble Lords and Ladies now establish a 'Formal Committee of Inquiry' within and hosted by the most honourable Chamber of the House of Lords to do the very thing required by the Baroness Murphy? That is to properly, fully, and openly examine, research, study and take evidence in the matter of the past Welfare Reform Deaths, and the ongoing risk, given the evidently defective Welfare Reform system, of there being more deaths due to the way the current Welfare Reform legislation is being framed, and passed without any understanding or input of the families of the many bereaved?

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Calum McLean.
7th October 2011

House Of Lords Information Office, House of Lords

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Thank you.

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FOI LORDS, House of Lords

Dear Mr. McLean

I am writing in response to your request for information received by the
House of Lords on 7 October.

You have sought answers to questions relating to statements made by
Baroness Murphy. The House of Lords Administration cannot answer questions
directed at individual Members. The Administration exists to provide
support services to the House and its members. The Freedom of Information
Act covers recorded information held by the House of Lords, individual
Members are not subject to the Act.  

We do not hold recorded information relating to your request.

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request, ask the House
of Lords to conduct an internal review. This should be addressed to
[1][email address] or to the Freedom of Information Officer, House
of Lords, London SW1A 0PW. Arrangements will be made for someone who has
not been involved in dealing with your request to conduct an internal
review within 20 working days.

 

If, following this review, you remain dissatisfied with the House’s
treatment of your request for information; you may then take your
complaint to the information commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Alex Daybank

Information Compliance Manager

House of Lords

[2][email address]

------------------- Original Message

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Dear House of Lords,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information INTERNAL REVIEWS.

I am writing to request an INTERNAL REVIEW of the House of Lords's handling of my FOI request 'Baroness Murphy Describing 12 Welfare Reform Deaths As Nasty & Inaccurate Tosh'.

I would like you to clarify EXACTLY and DEFINITIVELY what parts of your public authority (the House of Lords) 'ARE' and 'ARE NOT' not subject to the Freedom of Information legislation?

You will forgive me if I apply the metaphor that "you cannot get a little bit pregnant". It is bewildering to citizens of the United Kingdom that some selective bits of a public authority are covered by the Freedom of Information legislation, whilst other, potentially embarrassing bits have exempted themselves.

For example, if the ENTIRE chamber of the House of Lords, acting IN CONCERT in debate discuss an item as a COLLEGIATE GROUP, I suggest this entity is a de facto public authority, and as such IS subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

Yes? No?

I look forward to receiving the detail of this INTERNAL APPEAL ?

Thank you.

Calum McLean
8th November 2011.

Original FOI Request:-

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ba...

House Of Lords Information Office, House of Lords

Thank you for your email.

The House of Lords Information Office receives large numbers of e-mails and we aim to reply within 10 working days. If you need the information sooner please telephone the House of Lords Information Office on 020 7219 3107.

The following information may answer many of your enquiries.

House of Lords
If you have access to the internet you may find the answers to most of your queries on the House of Lords pages of the Parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/lords

House of Lords Press Office
If you are a member of the press and wish to contact the House of Lords Press Office please call 020 7219 8550.

Judicial Questions
For information about appeal cases, please contact the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London SW1P 3BD
Tel: 020 7960 1991/1992
Fax: 020 7960 1901
http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk

Appointments to the House of Lords
For queries about appointments to the House of Lords, contact the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which is a separate independent body and NOT part of the House of Lords:
The House of Lords Appointments Commission
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ
Tel: 020 7276 2005 (020 7276 2315 for an Information Pack)
www.lordsappointments.gov.uk<http://www.lordsappointments.gov.uk>

Please be aware that blind copied emails will not be received.

Thank you.

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BROCKLEHURST, Alexander, House of Lords

Dear Mr McLean,

I am writing in response to your communication of 8 November 2011 in which you asked for an internal review of your request, dated 7 October 2011, for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ('the Act'). Having not previously been involved in dealing with your request, I have been asked to conduct this review, details of which are set out below.

Your original request related to comments posted on the website Lords of the Blog<http://lordsoftheblog.net/> by Baroness Murphy at the following location:

http://lordsoftheblog.net/2011/09/24/do-...

Having reviewed the facts at my disposal, I am satisfied that your request for information under the Act has been dealt with appropriately by the House of Lords. My reasons for coming to this conclusion centre on the fact that your request for information was framed in terms of questions relating to views expressed on this website, rather than in terms of requests for recorded information held by the House of Lords as a public authority. The House of Lords Administration provides support for the House and its Members, but cannot answer questions directed at individual Members which relate to their views on political issues.

In fulfilling its obligations under the Act, the House of Lords Administration considers whether it holds any recorded information relevant to a particular request, and in this case it does not.

The website Lords of the Blog<http://lordsoftheblog.net/> is not, as you suggest, the 'official House of Lords website'. The site is managed by the Hansard Society<http://hansardsociety.org.uk/>, a political education and research charity, and is intended to encourage dialogue between Members of the House of Lords and members of the public. It carries the message: 'Opinions expressed by the authors/bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the House of Lords, its administration or other Members (including parties and other groups of Members)'.

In requesting an internal review, you seek clarification about how the Act applies to the House of Lords. The Act provides a right of access to recorded information held by a public authority. The House of Lords is specified as a public authority in Schedule 1 of the Act, and therefore is obliged to provide information through an approved publication scheme<http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...> and in response to requests<http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...>. You mention proceedings in the chamber of the House of Lords. These proceedings are generally broadcast on television and the internet, and the edited verbatim report is published as Hansard (the Official Report). The comments made on Lords of the Blog<http://lordsoftheblog.net/> are of a different nature, as implied above, as they are intended to be dialogue between Members of the House and the public, and are not proceedings of the House itself.

If you are not content with the outcome of this internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner may be contacted at: the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Brocklehurst

Head of Research Services
Library
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

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