In tribunal hearing over the stopping of her benefits, a judge refused to believe representations on behalf of a frail woman because her MP put an ‘X’ in the email.
If that sounds unbelievable, you’re not alone in thinking it.
Labour MP Jess Phillips, who released details of the case yesterday since it involved her, described the situation as “unacceptable”.
She disclosed that the “frail woman” had come to see her at her MP’s surgery to discuss the cessation of her Personal Independent Payments.
The MP then took up her case and forwarded information to the Department for Work and Pensions, sending an email back to the constituent to reassure her.
Hi [name redacted]
Hope you are well and are keeping smiling. Below is the email trail with the DWP, I will let you know as soon as I hear anything.
That ‘X’ at the end of the email was then used by the judge at the hearing to deny representation to the woman from her MP.
He wrote in his judgement
Both the familiarity of the wording, and the fact Ms Phillips places a kiss after her name, indicate a relationship of affection and friendship which goes beyond the parameters of a merely professional relationship.
In evaluating the contents of her email, we did so on the basis that Ms Phillips was writing as a friend rather than in a professional capacity.
Jess Phillips MP is understandably shocked, calling the situation “unacceptable”.
Another e.g of where being a human & an MP is unacceptable. A letter to Michael Gove. pic.twitter.com/CmNUOc975J
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) March 30, 2016
She has now sent a letter to Michael Gove (because of the behaviour of the judge, she told Political Scrapbook).
The people I see in front of me are human. Many come to see me simply because everyone else has treated them as a liar, a pain, a drain on resources. I will not do this.
… Should the judge in this case have considered that because I do not speak to Mrs [redacted] like an automaton, because I showed her just the briefest kindness, should my professional capacity be called into question?
These are the kinds of excuses judges use to sanction people on benefits