Both the DWP and Capita failed to record, or destroyed, vital evidence relating to the death of Philippa Day, the Disability News Service (DNS) has revealed.
Last week we shared details of the incompetence and institutional callousness that lay at the heart of the death of Philippa after she was told that she had to attend a face-to-face PIP assessment in spite of her anxiety, depression and agoraphobia and in defiance of pleas by her CPN.
Now DNS has published further details from the ongoing inquest which may lead some readers to question whether it was solely incompetence which resulted in vital recordings of telephone conversations not being made available to the coroner.
A Capita representative, Edward Cronie, was asked why recordings of calls made to Capita by Philippa’s CPN on 7 August – the day before Philippa was found unconscious at her home – and 9 August were not available.
According to Cronie the telephone extension of the agent who took the call on 7 August was not “correctly configured to record calls”, while there had been a “congestion issue” two days later, which meant eight calls to another agent’s extension had not been recorded.
Cronie suggested – in response to a question from the coroner – that someone at supervisory level would have been able to access recordings and delete them from the system, although there was no evidence that they had.
Asked if the system showed if recordings had been deleted, he said: “I would not be able to answer that.”
Meanwhile, the DWP told the coroner that they were unable to provide a recording of a key conversation between the DWP and a CPN because they had deleted it.
The DWP claimed they had done this because data protection rules meant they had to delete recordings that were “no longer relevant” after 14 months.
They said that they had not been aware of the inquest until July 2020 – nine months after Philippa died – and by then the call had been deleted.
However, where a claimant has died in circumstances that may implicate the DWP, and where the DWP have carried out their own investigation into the matter, it is absolutely clear that all the data relating to the case should be kept.
It might be needed not just for an inquest, but also because the next-of-kin might wish to bring a claim against the DWP, given that a young child lost her mother in this instance.
Which perhaps explains the alacrity with which vital evidence was destroyed.