St Pancras Coroner’s Court does not hear evidence about Lawrence Bond’s work capability assessments
THE sister of a man whose death triggered protests over the government’s “fitness for work” reforms believes a coroner’s inquest has failed to answer key questions.
Lawrence Bond had seen his benefits stopped under controversial work capability assessments, which critics say are forcing people to take on jobs while they are still unwell. The 56-year-old collapsed and died in Kentish Town in January, shortly after a visit to the Jobcentre, but this back story was not considered by coroner Dr Richard Brittain.
Instead an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday was completed in little more than 10 minutes with “paper-only” evidence and nobody on the witness stand. The case had led comparisons with Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, and the movie director was among protesters who joined a vigil outside the Jobcentre in Kentish Town in the days following Mr Bond’s death. Frances Coombes, Mr Bond’s sister, who did not attend the hearing, said yesterday (Wednesday): “What we would still like to know is, how can someone who had so many different things wrong with them, be classed as fit for work? What does that say about the system? Is it fit for purpose?”
She added: “I and my sister started to get seriously worried last year that Lawrence did not seem to be getting any help or understanding from the professionals he came in contact with.” Campaigners at the inquest said representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions and Maximus – the company that assessed Mr Bond – should have been called to give evidence.