Campaign for public investigation into Stevenage ex-serviceman’s death gains huge support

David Clapson, pictured while serving as a soldier, died after his benefits were sanctioned.

David Clapson, pictured while serving as a soldier, died after his benefits were sanctioned. - Credit: Archant

A campaign to raise £10,000 to pay for a public investigation into the death of an ex-serviceman who died 18 days after his benefits were stopped has been inundated with support.

David's sister Gill Thompson and her husband Michael flanked by Stevenage Borough Council leader Sha

David's sister Gill Thompson and her husband Michael flanked by Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor and Councillor Sherma Batson at a memorial tree planting ceremony in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

David Clapson, a diabetic, died in his flat in Stevenage in July 2013. He could not afford electricity to keep his insulin cool after his benefits were stopped for a month for missing two meetings.

He died from diabetic ketoacidosis – caused by an acute lack of insulin – at the age of 59.

He had £3.44 left in his bank account and very little left to eat in his flat.

David’s sister, Gill Thompson, launched a campaign on March 2 to raise £10,000 towards the legal costs of a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her brother’s death.

David Clapson from Stevenage, who sadly died from diabetic ketoacidosis at the age of 59.

David Clapson from Stevenage, who sadly died from diabetic ketoacidosis at the age of 59. - Credit: Archant

The campaign has already raised more than £14,000, with more than 800 people giving financial support, and a new £20,000 target has been set.

She said: “I believe his death was a result of benefit sanctions. The Department for Work and Pensions was aware of his condition, yet sanctioned him for a month. David then had no money for electricity so was unable to chill his insulin or buy food.

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“David died alone and penniless. He was very vulnerable, but he tried his best. He had worked for over 30 years and CVs were found just feet from his body.

“David was a quiet, private and proud man who never asked for or wanted much; he never complained or told me or his friends he had been sanctioned. He was not a scrounger or skiver, he was simply unwell and vulnerable and needed support.

“Whilst he died as a result of his diabetes, the sanctioning took away his lifeline.”

She continued: “The circumstances leading to David’s death have never been openly investigated. I would like to secure an inquest into the circumstances of David’s death so there is a full and public investigation into the impact of the sanctions on my brother, and whether the sanctions contributed to his death.

“I cannot bring my brother back but feel this will be a fundamental precedent to ensure lessons are not just learnt, but are acted upon to prevent anymore needless suffering of the vulnerable in our society.”

Last year, a parliamentary inquiry into benefit sanctions was held after Gill gathered more than 200,000 signatures demanding it. The inquiry resulted in 26 recommendations, including that the DWP conduct an independent review of benefit sanctions to ensure they are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately across all Jobcentres.

A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions on sanctions aren’t taken lightly — they are only ever used as a last resort and after we have taken every opportunity to contact the individual.

“Even when someone is sanctioned, they can still get financial support through the hardship fund. Mr Clapson did not appeal or ask for a reconsideration of the sanction, or apply for a hardship payment.”

To support Gill’s campaign, visit www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/david-clapson.

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