Socialist Worker

How the benefits system abused Errol Graham

Issue No. 2703

A vigil for Errol Graham in Nottingham in February

A vigil for Errol Graham in Nottingham in February (Pic: Richard Buckwell)


Errol Graham, who died of starvation when his benefits were cut off, had become so mentally distressed that his family believe he pulled out two of his own teeth with pliers.

Fresh details of Graham’s decline, and the traumatic impact on his relatives of his lonely death and subsequent inquest, are revealed in a witness statement.

It was filed as part of the latest phase of a legal action taken by the family against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Alison Turner, the partner of Graham’s son said, “The harrowing things I saw when I visited Errol’s flat following his death will always be with me.

“It was clear he was in extreme mental distress and anguish.

“It is impossible to see how a policy could be lawful which allows benefits to be withdrawn for people in these circumstances.”

Graham weighed just 28 kg when he was found dead at home by bailiffs sent to evict him in June 2018, eight months after all his benefits were stopped.

This was because of his failure to attend a fitness for work assessment.

His flat had no gas, electricity supply or working phone—just one light bulb, a broken fridge and no food.

Graham’s family is seeking a judicial review of the DWP’s safeguarding process system.

They say he would be alive today if officials had checked properly on his health and wellbeing before automatically revoking his benefits for failing to attend a medical assessment, leaving him without income.


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