Boris Johnson’s claim that the new Serious Case Panel (SCP) would investigate the death of Errol Graham was even more misleading than it first appeared, because the SCP does not look at individual cases, it has now been revealed.
Earlier this month Johnson claimed that an independent panel was looking into the death of Errol Graham, the claimant who starved to death after his benefits were stopped.
We pointed out that the panel was to be staffed by senior DWP civil servants and so will not be independent even of the DWP, let alone of the government.
However, a series of very terse answers by Justin Tomlinson to parliamentary questions last week has now revealed that the SCP is not even set up to look more deeply into individual cases.
Instead, it holds quarterly meetings at which it “takes themes and systemic issues that come out of case reviews, and makes recommendations for improvements across the relevant areas of the department.”
In other words, its role is not to re-examine existing cases, but to look for evidence that the same mistakes are being repeated and make recommendations to try to prevent them happening again.
Whilst this is an important process, it is not in any way a further investigation of the circumstances surrounding individual deaths.
Tomlinson now claims that the panel is made up of “Civil Servants and independent members” but gave no details whatsoever of where the allegedly independent members are drawn from, leaving continuing doubt as to how independent the panel can possibly be.