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Monday, 20 June 2016

Evictions and vulnerable people — a coroner's court case in point

In his address to London Housing Marchers at Hyde Park Corner on Saturday 18 June 2016, Revd Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty made use of the word 'vulnerable' four times — twice in connection with the word 'people', once in connection with the word 'humanity', and once in connection with the word 'circumstances'.

The encore below of a Kilburn Unemployed blog post from August 2015. Nygell Firminger of South Kilburn's circumstances included: 

  1. sanction by Kilburn Jobcentre
  2. exorbitant interest rates charged by legalised loan sharks for 'high risk lenders
  3. resultant rent arrears even while his benefits had been restored
  4. eviction by Genesis Housing Association despite his attempted negotiations with them toward resolving his rent arrears
  5. bailiffs not allowing him time to pick up his medication before they booted him out and
  6. a 'group interview' at Kilburn Jcp

Nygell broke back into the flat that he had been evicted from and committed suicide the day before the 'group interview' at Kilburn Jcp.

His suicide occurred in the first week of April 2012, the same week that the Welfare Reform Act 2016 was passed by Parliament — heralding burgeoning benefit sanctions. The initial coroner's hearing into his case took place in November 2012 but had to be adjourned to 10 July 2013 when the following 'Rule 43' was passed by the North London Coroner.

North London Coroner: vulnerable person took his own life as a direct consequence of his being evicted by Genesis HA

North London Coroner's Court Letterhead
Page 1 of the Rule 43 regarding the death of an ex-Genesis HA tenant
I am required under the terms of Rule 43 of the Coroners (Amendment) Rules 2008 to report to:
Claire Murdock,
Chief Executive,
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust,
Stephenson House
75 Hampstead Road
London NW1 2PL

And following the inquest touching the death of Nigel* Firminger heard before Coroner Andrew Walker at The Coroners Court sitting at Barnet on the 10th day of July 2013** and having heard evidence the Coroner had found that (b) the evidence gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist in the future and

(c) In the Coroner's opinion, action should be taken to prevent the occurence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances,

the coroner may report the circumstances to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action.

The Circumstances

On the second of April 2012, Nigel Patrick Firminger was found at his former home having taken his own life as a direct consequence of his being evicted and the effect that the eviction had on his mental health.

Mr Firminger was suffering from a mental health issues that were not known by the organisation providing his accommodation or the court dealing with the eviction.

It is against this background that H M Coroner begs to report that:

Consideration to be given to:-

A form that may be filled in by the staff conducting an assessment that the patient can take away with them that identifies that the person is to be considered vulnerable that can be passed to other agencies such as those providing accommodation.

Your attention is drawn to the following provisions:

Response to report under rule 43

Page 2 of the Rule 43 regarding the death of an ex-Genesis HA tenant

43A, —(1) A person to whom a coroner sends a report under rule 43(1) must give the coroner a written response to the report containing—

(a) details of any action that has been taken or which it is proposed will be taken whether in response to the report or otherwise; or

(b) an explanation as to why no action is proposed

within the period of 56 days beginning with the day on which the report is sent.

Extension of time

43B. A coroner may extend the period of 56 days mentioned in rule 43A(1) (even if an application for extension is made after the time for compliance has expired).

Signed this the 25th day of July 2013
(Coroner's signature and stamp)
by Coroner Adrew Walker


* The coroner's spelling of Nygell's forename as 'Nigel' is as presented on the Rule 43 document, and differs from the 'Nygell' spelling given on the cremation service programme from September 2012.
** This was an adjourned hearing. The original November 2012 hearing was adjourned because, following KUWG's presentation of a leaflet outlining the circumstances leading to Nygell's death and the fact that Nygell's relatives were unable to attend on that occasion, the Coroner had declared that "new evidence" had come to light.

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