Suicide note blamed Bromley Job Centre employee

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

The suicide note of a man on benefits who took his own life blamed a job centre official for allegedly putting the idea in his head Martin John Counter, then 60, of Cotton Hill, Bromley, was being investigated over whether it was legal for him to claim sickness allowance while having a tax-saving account – an ISA.

He died on September 5, 2018 in his bed – his family believe after taking pills – and left a suicide note which named the official who mentioned suicide in a meeting with him.

He had been unable to work because of ME, psoriasis, and then in 2015 a perforated colon, because of which he had to be put in a coma for four weeks. He also had arthritis, for which doctors regularly prescribe methotrexate.

His suicide note said: “Thank you, [named individual] for putting suicide in my head. “I know I did not answer that question in my ISA but that was probably due to my post virol syndrome and that Dr G methatremte causing fatigue, exhaustion, lack of concentration.

“There was a breakdown at the face-to-face meeting when I did inform you of the ISA but I thought might be tied to the house. “I lose concentration when on the phone and work somewhat better face-to-face.

“I never have had a suicidal thought till you for some reason brought it up. Was it a twist of the knife? “If the ISA had been mentioned I would have stopped the claim, sold the house and moved to probably Eastbourne and invested the £1,500.00 and be on more money the ESA. I would have had to sort the house out in ill health to do it.
M Counter.

“So sorry to family and friends.”

Mr Counter had attended a meeting, under caution, on June 19, 2018 after Bromley’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) office found out he had an ISA.

He made a payment to the DWP of £24,000 in August – virtually all the funds in his ISA.

Mr Cuonter’s brother Alan has asked to know if he made contact with the DWP in August/early September, and the content of any emails or discussions, which he believes holds the key to his suicide.

Alan told the inquest on May 13 he believed the criminal investigation into Martin is what drove him to kill himself. He has asked on September 12, through the estate’s executor Angie Albrow, for a copy of the June 19 recorded interview.

The DWP has since denied receiving the request or Ms Albrow’s September 20 letter providing proof of her being the executor.

The coroner at Mr Counter’s inquest, Xavier Mooyaart, has now taken the highly unusal step of intervening on Alan’s behalf.

He has written to the Bromley job centre in Elmfield Road, saying: “While the reasons for Mr Counter’s decision to take his own life are outside my jurisdiction, I am concerned that his family’s requests for information have not only been addressed but apparently ignored. “I would be most grateful if you could provide them with all assistance and explanation possible.”

Alan said: “The Metropolitan Police had previously stated to me that without firm evidence they were unable to investigate further.

“The coroner said from the outset the purpose of the inquest was to determine the who, when and how but the why but not the cause of why Martin took his life.

“So I am very grateful for his intervention. I did not expect it. The police have also offered to raise the matter. I was very impressed with the reaction of everyone who heard what had happened.

But the DWP has been sitting on the matter for nine months now. If they have done this to me, how many others have they done it to.”

Martin’s MP, Janet Daby, has also written to the DWP following up Alan’s request for departmental date; and had a reply, dated April 10, 2019, from correspondence manager Mary Marshall.

We contacted the DWP on May 8 and were told on May 10 that a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Mr Counter’s family. We cannot comment further ahead of the inquest.”

The day after the May 13 inquest we again contacted the DWP. There had been no reply by Tuesday so we called to pursue the query giving a deadline of 12.30pm yesterday.

The response then was as follows: A DWP spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Counter at this difficult time.”

Concerning the documents Alan Counter had requested by recorded delivery but not been given, she later added: “As we haven’t got explicit consent, we can’t give you any more details re Mr Counter’s case.”

3 thoughts on “Suicide note blamed Bromley Job Centre employee

  • 14th June 2019 at 4:44 pm
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    How is it that the DWP can bleed a persons savings dry causing them to take their own lives when Tories stash money stolen from the public away in off shore accounts ..Where is the Justice ? And its not the first time I have heard about DWP/Atos and the like mentioning suicide to a client -are they ordered to do this? I don’t put nothing past the Tories and their minions . It will all go back on them I’d like to think they would be haunted by all the thousands of lives snuffed out in their last days stuck in a chair /bed somewhere so they cannot escape the anguish fear and stress of those wiped out.

    Reply
  • 15th June 2019 at 6:24 pm
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    This stinks of the tactics used by the original CSA (Child Support Agency)
    Why and in what contest would an interviewer/ interrogator mention suicide to anyone. The Sec of State for Work and Pensions (who as I understand are responsible for the DWP) must answer two questions fully and ideally on the floor of the house.
    1. Is it policy to ask such a question (let alone morally right)
    2 Was the question asked

    In any case the coroner should require the official named to attend and give a full account of the meeting and if they do not then it is hoped they and their supervisors up to and including the PM should be held in contempt of court.

    Reply
  • 19th June 2019 at 7:33 pm
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    I to had an unpleasant experience with a former JC+ adviser at Bromley Jobcentre quite some years ago. Not that I was given any ideas of suicide but he did put me down for the smallest of mistakes. A very nasty person through and through. A bully. He was moved after using the complaints system. It’s there to be used. A matter that was very personnel to me. Brixton JC+ is where he went. It has since closed down. Where he is I do not care. It seems that these employees with a job title seem to go mad given such power. There are many stories about DWP inhumane treatment of people who are just trying to get back on their feet. The coroner should have required the named official to attend and give a full account of the meeting. If he/she was before a Judge then the media who are allowed in courts would name the employee. The person who made my life as miserable as possible is Mr Andre Ofomi. If you come across him approach with the greatest care. Very nasty. One life lost because of abuse of power.

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