In Brief

Man who starved to death’s plea to welfare officials

Errol Graham wrote letter pleading with DWP to ‘judge me fairly’

A seriously ill man who died of starvation when his benefits were cut off wrote a moving letter begging welfare officials to “judge me fairly”.

Errol Graham’s handwritten letter was released by Graham’s family as they launched a legal attempt to prove that the Department for Work and Pensions acted unlawfully.

Graham describes how he turned from a keen footballer and doting grandfather, into a withdrawn and anxious person. “On a good day I open my curtains, but mostly they stay shut,” he wrote. “I find it hard to leave the house on bad days. I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. It’s not nice living this way.

“Sometimes I can’t stand to even hear the washing machine, and I wish I knew why. Being locked away in my flat I feel that I don’t have to face anyone, at the same time it drives me insane. I think I feel more secure on my own with my own company, but wish it wasn’t like that.”

Graham’s note is thought to have been prepared for his DWP assessor. It was never sent, but was discovered in his flat by his family after he died, aged 57, in June 2018.

His emaciated body, weighing just 28kg (62lb), was discovered by bailiffs sent to evict him eight months after all his benefits were stopped.

The Guardian says Graham’s family’s legal action “piles fresh pressure on the government”, which is “already facing demands from MPs and campaigners to launch a public inquiry into benefit-related deaths amid concerns that hundreds of vulnerable people may have died in recent years after their payments were stopped”.

A National Audit Office report found the DWP had investigated at least 69 suicides linked to benefits problems since 2014 although the true figure is likely to be much higher.

Austerity cuts were to blame for 130,000 preventable UK deaths, according to a study released last year.

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