More lies from a disability minister – this time to MPs

As soon as Esther McVey was work and pensions secretary, one of her junior minister  told lies to MPs. Not that parliamentarians call it telling lies. In their terms, disabilities minister Sarah Newton misled the house of commons.


Sarah Newton MP, minister for people with disabilities.

Now, Department of Work and Pensions officials are making excuses. A DWP spokeswoman told Disability News Service the minister had not intended to discuss the proceedings in any depth, and: “The preparation for the ILF debate was carried out well before the reshuffle, and the minister had no prior knowledge of its outcome.”

The problem is, what Ms Newton told the house although McVey’s 2012 decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was challenged with a judicial review, “throughout the process the DWP won on all points.”

That’s simply not true. That’s telling lies.

Journalist John Pring wrote on Disability News Service website: “The three judges unanimously overturned an earlier ruling by the high court and found that her (McVey) decision to close the fund was unlawful, and that she had breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

“She was heavily criticised by the judges, with one saying there was no evidence that she had “directed her mind to the need to advance equality of opportunity”.


Esther McVey, work and pensions secretary.

As far as I am concerned, that means the DWP did not win on all points.

What actually happened was that, in 2012 when Esther McVey was disabilities minister, she closed the Independent Living Fund. The decision was challenged and, finally, three appeal court judges firmly rejected her decision.

Full details can be found here.

Ms McVey’s appointment to work and pensions secretary has been met with criticism.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, spoke out. She said: “People see this as a deliberately provocative appointment.”

She added that they feel it will lead to further abuse and denial of rights for disabled people.

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “We can now expect an intensification of the government’s campaign of violations against the fundamental human rights of the UK’s disabled population.”

Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, was more cautious. She said McVey had “a very full in-tray when it comes to disabled people.

“We hope she’ll work with us to come up with practical responses to some of the critical issues around disabled people’s ability to live as full and equal citizens in the UK.”

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

ESA New Compulsory ‘Conversation’ brings more Sanctions, and a Dispute over Co-design Claim

We can tell when politicians are lying because it happens whenever their lips move and words come out.

We don’t like it but we know it’s true; it’s the same as a politician’s promise – worthless. But it is now spreading beyond those who are elected, and I find that extremely concerning. This time we have caught out two senior civil servants.

esaOnce again, the UK government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is at the heart of the matter. It claims, wrongly, that disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) had “co-designed” a new scheme with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions attached.

I have to congratulate the Disability News Service (DNS) for its tenacity and determination to expose the truth in the face of continued denials from the DWP.

The DNS revealed in March that nearly all new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) would have to attend a new Health and Work Conservation (HWC) with a DWP job coach. Attendance would be compulsory and claimants’ benefits sanctioned if they failed to take part “without good cause”.

The HWC can take place weeks or even months before claimants have their ability to work tested through the work capability assessment.

HWC co-designed or not?

DNS reported details of the HWC from a presentation delivered by the two senior DWP civil servants.

They are Ian Anderson, DWP’s project and programme management head of profession, and Matt Russell, its policy advisor for disability employment strategy. They claimed the HWC was “co-designed with the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT), health charities, front-line staff, disabled peoples’ organisations and occupational health professionals”.

DNS says it has now obtained the names of those DPOs and charities. It used a freedom of information request to DWP to obtain the list.

All of those contacted by DNS have denied any endorsement of the HWC. In its report issued yesterday, it quotes four leading DPOs. Each refutes the DWP’s claim.

DWP stands firm on ESA

A DWP spokesman refused to apologise for the claims by Anderson and Russell. That is despite the DPOs stating clearly they are firmly opposed to sanctions, conditionality and a mandatory HWC.

He said: “We used various feedback to help design the HWC – however not all contributions will have been used.”

He said that any actions agreed by an ESA claimant in the mandatory HWC would be voluntary. There will be DWP “safeguards” to ensure “appropriate exemptions from attending the HWC,” he added.

Of course, we all believe that – don’t we?!

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, who has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2002, he continued to work until mobility problems made him retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective. Besides that, he is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.


27 years on and the curtain of lies is ripped to shreds as jury blames police for all 96 deaths at Hillsborough


April 15 1989 started off, for me, with a leisurely drive from London northwards on the M1 motorway to the midlands city of Coventry.

There, on that day, my second oldest nephew as well as being my only godson, was marrying his fiancée in the city’s cathedral.

After leaving the reception my then wife and I drove to another midlands town, Loughborough in Leicestershire, to visit long-standing friends of her family.

We didn’t have the car radio on, no news reports and so we had no idea what was going on in the world. In particular, we had no idea of the terrible events happening that afternoon in the ground of Sheffield Wednesday football (soccer) club. A ground that goes by the name of Hillsborough. My nephew’s wedding day was also that of the Hillsborough disaster but we only found out about that when we reached our destination in Loughborough.

A total of 96 Liverpool football fans died that day. They were crushed to death in appalling circumstances that have been argued about ever since. Another 500-plus were injured.

There have been stories, excuses, misinformation and lies – and that was just from the police as they sought to avoid any responsibility. Even the Press were taken in. Horrendous stories were written, most notoriously in The Sun daily newspaper. It published a front-page story headlined The Truth in which awful untrue allegations were made, placing the blame on Liverpool’s fans. It is now known that The Sun’s story was based on untrue ‘information’ from senior officers in South Yorkshire Police.

A coroner’s inquest was followed by other investigations as the families of those who died fought on, fought on for justice. Eventually, the original inquest verdicts were set aside and a new inquest was ordered.

This week, after hearing evidence for two years, the jury reached its verdicts. There is no need to go through all of them but the key ones are:

  • The 96 who died were ‘unlawfully killed’.
  • The behaviour of Liverpool fans did not add to a dangerous situation.
  • The police did make ‘errors or omissions’ that caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

How those families have fought for justice for so long is beyond me but, four days ago, their amazing dedication and hard work brought tears of relief to a proud city and its people.

The current head of South Yorkshire Police, Chief Constable David Crompton, has since been suspended and I am sure that prosecutions of others must follow.

DuckenfieldIn fact, the man who was in overall command of police at Hillsborough, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield (now retired) has admitted lying about events that day and must be in line for prosecution. The inquest jurors were instructed that they could only decide that the victims were ‘unlawfully killed’ if they were ‘sure’ that Duckenfield was ‘responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence’ of those who died. By a majority of 7-2, that is what they decided.