16 December 2021
What: New evidence shows that DWP was not questioned about an autistic man’s suicide at an inquest, despite a bundle of documents presented to the coroner containing multiple distressing messages he had scrawled on letters about his benefits. A police officer who was called to Roy Curtis’s flat after his body was discovered in August 2019 found a folder of letters in which he had written desperate messages about his disability benefits “nightmare”. The folder contained more than 10 letters from DWP, its contractor Maximus, and HMRC, on which Curtis wrote messages demonstrating how the government’s fitness for work process was causing him significant mental distress.
Why significant: Although the inquest into his death took place in December 2020, this is the first time that the existence of all these messages has been revealed publicly. The coroner’s failure to require DWP civil servants or senior figures from Maximus to give evidence at the inquest contrasts with the actions of another coroner, Gordon Clow, who took evidence in January 2021 from a series of DWP and Capita witnesses during the nine-day inquest into the death of Philippa Day.