Monday, August 24, 2009

Letter to the Duke of Norfolk

Declan has just written to the Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard, who is Patron of Providence Row, prior to lodging a formal complaint against the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy with the Archbishop of Westminster, His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, on the grounds of unlawful discrimination. For the record, this is the email letter:

Subject: My complaint against the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Dear Duke of Norfolk,

As I outlined in my previous correspondence to you as the patron of Providence Row run by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, my wife and I were denied access to food in the Dellow Centre of Providence Row on 19 August because, according to a Providence Row letter of 18 August, our "room/flat" is deemed by the charity "to be stable accommodation". I can confirm that this morning I have once again written to the Chief Executive of Providence Row, Mrs. Jo Ansell, requesting that the Providence Row charity acknowledge the following facts in respect of our unstable circumstances, having been rough sleepers for more than two and a half years (from 3 November 2006 to 13 July 2009):

(1) We have a three-month Shorthold Tenancy Agreement dated 14 July 2009 and no rent book;

(2) Our first week's rent was paid by Dr. James H. Fetzer, Distinguished McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, because Haringey Council refused to pay rent prior to the first Monday after my claim for housing benefit was made;

(3) The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has lost my wife's National Insurance Number (NINO) and Broadway Homelessness and Support have been waiting for the letter of invitation for the NINO reallocation appointment since 27 July;

(4) We have received a total of £230 in crisis loans from the DWP since 20 July 2009 while waiting for my joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance to be processed.

You will note that I am taking the time to once again copy the Archbishop of Westminster, His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, into my current situation. As you are aware, I will be lodging forthwith a formal complaint against the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy with Archbishop Nichols on the grounds of unlawful discrimination.

Yours sincerely,

Declan Heavey

cc His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy
Alderman Sir Michael Oliver, Vice President of Providence Row
Mr. Simon Bartley, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Providence Row
Mr. Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of Broadway Homelessness and Support
Mrs. Jo Ansell, Chief Executive of Providence Row

Friday, August 21, 2009

Email to leading human rights lawyers

Because of all the difficulties we are having (see, for example, previous blog “The Department for Work and Pensions denies me a Crisis Loan”), Declan has composed an email to send to leading human rights lawyers here in London. This morning it went to Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, one of the UK's leading civil liberties and human rights organisations. Chakrabarti has been described by the Telegraph as “one of the most effective opponents of what she sees as an increasingly authoritarian and invasive state”.

Chaired by David Dimbleby, Question Time is the BBC’s flagship political programme. In this 2008 Question Time clip, Dimbleby’s panel, including Chakrabarti, discuss Sharia Law in the UK. Is Archbishop Rowan Williams right to say that the introduction of Sharia Law in the UK is unavoidable and would aid social cohesion?



Subject: Your advice

Dear Ms. Chakrabarti,

I am writing to you as a leading lawyer in the area of civil liberties and human rights. The following is from a letter of mine on Monday to Broadway Homelessness and Support and published in my wife's blog that afternoon titled "Declan barred from the Dellow Centre":


... [T]his morning I was denied access to food in the Dellow Centre because, according to Mr. Keith Armitage, Reception and Support Services Manager, they have been informed by Broadway Homelessness and Support that I "have a flat with access to a kitchen". (I am seeking written clarification from the Dellow Centre of the situation with regard to my wife, whose benefits have been suspended, before lodging a formal complaint against the Sisters of Mercy with the Archbishop of Westminster on the grounds of unlawful discrimination and seeking legal representation to pursue my claim.)


My wife Lola has a well-documented case of violations of our most basic rights at many levels in this blog, and I am looking for someone who will represent me pro bono. I appreciate that due to other commitments you may not be able to take on my case, but I am trying to reach out to someone near at hand who has the standing to reach out on my behalf.

What may make our situation of more than ordinary significance is that we believe our difficulties in respect of benefits to which we are entitled is motivated by the desire to suppress or otherwise undermine our exercise of freedom of speech by means of the website we maintain at religionandmorality.net. If you visit the site, you will see that we address many controversial issues, from the abuses inflicted by religious entities to 7/7, 9/11 and the war on terror.

The man who funds our website, Dr. James H. Fetzer, has suggested that the political ramifications of our abuse may be a significant consideration in assessing our situation. He has authorised us to mention his academic website at http://www.d.umn.edu/~jfetzer/ and has stated that, in his belief, the treatment to which we are being subjected is quite probably political. He would be glad to discuss this in correspondence via jfetzer@d.umn.edu.

Under these conditions, we would be especially appreciative if you might be able to offer us your advice. We believe that the least indication of interest in our situation by a lawyer or someone with legal standing may be enough to straighten this out forthwith. We are being denied our most basic rights and stand in desperate need of counsel. Is there any chance you might be able to assist us in any way?

Yours sincerely,

Declan Heavey

Email: dheavey@gmail.com
Homepage: religionandmorality.net
Homepage: http://network-of-those-abused-by-church.blogspot.com/

Home address:
83 Priory Gardens
Highgate
London N6 5QU

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Department for Work and Pensions denies me a Crisis Loan

Things just get better and better: yesterday Declan was barred from the Sisters of Mercy Dellow Day Centre (see previous blog “Declan barred from the Dellow Centre”); and this morning I was denied a £40 Crisis Loan by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) … to last me two weeks! If I had to give my opinion on the matter I would say “someone” wants us out of the UK (see, for example, blog of 6 August “The Department for Work and Pensions is putting us back to the street”). Throughout our almost three years sleeping rough we dealt with the City of London Police on countless occasions, but we were never told there was something negative about us on their system. Oh, well!

I didn’t leave Broadway Homelessness and Support empty-handed though: the DWP awarded me £20 to last until next Tuesday – the DWP has lost my National Insurance Number (NINO) and suspended my benefits pending allocating me new one; we have been waiting for almost a month for Broadway to receive a NINO allocation appointment for me (see previous blog for Declan’s email yesterday to the CEO of Broadway).

With respect to the DWP, this is the background: We came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the DWP terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September. Declan exhausted the appeals process: the case was dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights, despite that we were denied the internal appeal process by procedural impropriety on the part of the enforcement authority.

On 12 July, things got serious when the police threatened us with forced removal from Salters’ Hall (see blog of 12 July “Police threaten us with physical force at the place we sleep, Salters”) and the next night Dr. James Fetzer, a NAC Honorary Associate, who is Distinguished McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, found us a place to stay, through the extreme generosity of Belinda McKenzie, who was reached by a friend of his in Ireland (all is explained in the blog of 26 July “We are interviewed on The Real Deal”).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Declan barred from the Dellow Centre

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Haringey Council making it as difficult as possible for us to get the benefits we are entitled to and already the Dellow Day Centre of Providence Row Charity run by the Sisters of Mercy is showing us the door! Declan was barred from the centre this morning (he has access in the afternoon for a cup of coffee!) and I will be too as soon as the DWP decides to lift the suspension on my Jobseeker’s Allowance (see previous blog dated 6 August “The Department for Work and Pensions is putting us back to the street”). It means Declan has now lost his breakfast and I have lost my lunch, since the cheese sandwich that the nuns give Declan with his cereal and three toast has been my lunch for many, many months.

Their website states: “With help from our supporters we continue to expand the range of services we have on offer at the Dellow Centre, enabling people to permanently break the cycles of homelessness and poverty” - that bit mustn’t apply to us, though. The reception manager didn’t agree with me either that a three-month lease subject to month’s notice at any time constitutes vulnerable accommodation. The Duke of Norfolk, the Patron of Providence Row, states in their Annual Report 2007-2008 that “the staff and volunteers at Providence Row follow their mission to help anyone who comes to them retain their dignity and health, and explore options for their future.” And just a bit below, one can read: “Helping clients find housing and accommodation remains a number one priority for us.” Well, I am puzzled.

Anyway, only last night I uploaded to the NAC website a new section in “What we do” called “Question the war on terror”; we feature on our homepage "Questioning the War on Terror" by Dr. Kevin Barrett, now the flagship of the site. Below is a video by award journalist John Pilger, which features in this new section. And below the video is a letter that Declan sent this afternoon to the CEO of Broadway Homelessness and Support, Howard Sinclair. Declan is once again copying the email to Superintendent Lorraine Cussen (see blog of 12 July “Police threaten us with physical force at the place we sleep, Salters”). In fact, as I said in the previous blog, Declan has an email from Superintendent Cussen, stating: “Thank you for taking the time to copy me into your current situation. I hope that Broadway have been able to assist you.”


"Breaking The Silence - Truth and Lies in the War on Terror" by John Pilger. Award-winning journalist John Pilger dissects the truth and lies in the "war on terror". Pilger investigates the discrepancies between American and British claims for the "war on terror" and the facts on the ground as he finds them in Afghanistan and Washington, DC. A Special Report (pdf) by John Pilger can be read at Bullfrog Films website.

And Declan’s email this afternoon to Sinclair:

Subject: Broadway assistance in claiming Jobseeker's Allowance

Dear Mr. Sinclair,

Previous correspondence refers. I reattach copy of my email of 14 May 2009 to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, to which belongs the Dellow Day Centre of Providence Row Charity run by the Sisters of Mercy. Paragraph 3(2) states as follows:


18 June 2008: I was robbed in the canteen of the Dellow Centre of all my and my wife's money and documents (crime reference no. 4215697/08); 24 June: I was informed at Bow Street police station that the case had been struck out due to the police being unable to obtain any CCTV footage whatsoever from Providence Row Charity.


With regard to the reinstatement of my joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) - which originally ran from July 2005 until it was terminated on 27 September 2006 because I did not "sign on" two days before I was due to so on 29 September - Broadway Homelessness and Support gathered on 31 July 2009 more specific details from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about my benefits claim of 17 July. I was informed by Broadway City Outreach team that although my part of the claim had been processed (and subsequently paid), my wife's part of the claim is currently suspended because the DWP has lost her National Insurance Number (NINO) and, as a consequence, she needs to be issued with a new NINO before her part of the claim can be paid.

As first stated in my email to you of 6 August, I am in receipt of a letter of 4 August from Haringey Council advising that the Council cannot process my claim for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit until they have more information to work out my benefit. I must (i) tell them my partner's National Insurance Number and provide proof that it belongs to her/him, for example, a letter or form issued by the DWP or HM Revenue and Customs, and (ii) provide current proof of my partner's Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based)/(Contribution Based) in the form of a recent letter from the DWP showing my current address or a recent bank statement showing the most up to date payment being paid directly into their account. I have also pointed out in a number of emails to you that the Council states that I must give all this information to them within one month of the date of same letter, or my claim for housing benefit (to be treated as made on 17 July) will not be paid and I will have to reapply.

As you are aware, it has been my understanding since 4 August that (a) Broadway Homelessness and Support expect to receive the letter of invitation from the DWP for the NINO allocation appointment ASAP, given my wife's original NINO has been "lost" by the Department, and (b) Broadway City Outreach team has been informed by the DWP that the fact that we were unable to retrieve any personal identification documents following the aforementioned robbery at the Dellow Centre will not militate against my wife, and that her Big Issue vendor badge (badge no. 1170) will suffice in the circumstances. With regard to the former of these understandings, I note that Broadway Homelessness and Support has yet to receive this letter.

This has now become an extremely serious situation for my wife and me, and may, should it continue much longer, see us back sleeping rough at Salters' Hall. To further compound the situation, this morning I was denied access to food in the Dellow Centre because, according to Mr. Keith Armitage, Reception and Support Services Manager, they have been informed by Broadway Homelessness and Support that I "have a flat with access to a kitchen". (I am seeking written clarification from the Dellow Centre of the situation with regard to my wife, whose benefits have been suspended, before lodging a formal complaint against the Sisters of Mercy with the Archbishop of Westminster on the grounds of unlawful discrimination and seeking legal representation to pursue my claim.) Tomorrow my wife and I will turn up at Broadway Homelessness and Support head office to seek assistance in applying for a second crisis loan in her name, our accumulated debt to the DWP of £210 as from 20 July notwithstanding. I wrote to Broadway City Outreach team on Friday requesting an appointment for tomorrow for this purpose, and have just received a reply, stating: "We have a busy morning tomorrow and I am having trouble finding someone to be in the office to assist Maria with her Crisis Loan claim."

In September 2006 the DWP terminated our benefits because I did not sign up early enough – even though both my wife and I were doing so in a timely fashion; and I exhausted the appeals process: my case was dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights, despite that I was denied the internal appeal process by procedural impropriety on the part of the enforcement authority. That we are now dealing with another obvious "mistake" (however deliberate) - namely, the losing of my wife's NINO by the DWP - I cannot imagine what would motivate the officials to prevent me from successfully establishing a joint claim leading to my landlady being paid the full amount of backdated housing benefit.

You will note that I am taking the time to once again copy Superintendent Lorraine Cussen of Snow Hill Police Station into my current situation. As you are aware, it was Superintendent Cussen who, as the supervisory police officer overseeing Operation Poncho II within the City of London Police, suggested that I seek the assistance of Broadway Homelesssness and Support (see attached email of 13 July 2009 from Superintendent Cussen). I am also copying this email and attachments to, among others, the former Law Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Master of the Salters’ Company c/o the Clerk to the Salters’ Company at clerk@salters.co.uk.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey

cc The Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Master of the Salters’ Company
His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Mrs. Jo. Ansell, Chief Executive of Providence Row Charity
Superintendent Lorraine Cussen, Snow Hill Police Station

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Department for Work and Pensions is putting us back to the street

It seems that once again the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is putting us to the street, less than three weeks after Jim Fetzer, a NAC Honorary Associate, who is Distinguished McKnight University Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, found us a place to stay, through the generosity of Belinda McKenzie, who was reached by a friend of his in Ireland (all is explained in the previous blog of 26 July “We are interviewed on The Real Deal”).

With respect to the DWP, this is the background: We came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the DWP terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September. Declan exhausted the appeals process: the case was dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights, despite that we were denied the internal appeal process by procedural impropriety on the part of the enforcement authority (see, for example, blog of 12 July “Police threaten us with physical force at the place we sleep, Salters”).

Anyway, in an email dated 13 July, the same day Belinda McKenzie took us off the street, Superintendent Lorraine Cussen of Snow Hill police station advised Declan to engage with Broadway Homelessness and Support, which we have been doing. Nonetheless, it seems that not even with their assistance are we going to be able to keep the flat Prof. Fetzer found for us. Declan’s email this morning to the CEO of Broadway, Howard Sinclair, can be read below. Just now Superintendent Cussen emailed Declan, stating: “Thank you for taking the time to copy me into your current situation. I hope that Broadway have been able to assist you.”

Our flat is in a house which was the focus of a 2006 article in the New Statesman, “Meet the No Planers”. It says that the house “doubles as the hub of the British and Irish 9/11 Truth Campaign”. Our landlady, Belinda McKenzie, is described as the “tea-maker and dishwasher of the movement”. This is not the first time that this courageous woman has provided shelter for those in need.

Former MI5 officers Annie Machon and David Shayler – who blew the whistle against the British state’s intelligence services, MI5 and MI6 back in 1997 – were given sanctuary in the house and stayed with Belinda for almost three years. Machon is also a prominent member of the 9/11 Truth Movement. (Oh, a FB friend from America has donated a laptop to the NAC cause; we are keeping, however, our fund raising campaign for a laptop going for the time being, just in case of problems.)

This is a YouTube clip featuring Machon – the event took place in 2007 at the Charles Wilson Building of Glasgow University:



And this is the email Declan sent to Sinclair this morning (Declan was subsequently refused the “crisis loan”):

Subject: Broadway assistance in claiming Jobseeker's Allowance

Dear Mr. Sinclair,

Previous correspondence refers. I reattach copy of my email of 14 May 2009 to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, to which belongs the Dellow Day Centre of Providence Row Charity run by the Sisters of Mercy. Paragraph 3(2) states as follows:


18 June 2008: I was robbed in the canteen of the Dellow Centre of all my and my wife's money and documents (crime reference no. 4215697/08); 24 June: I was informed at Bow Street police station that the case had been struck out due to the police being unable to obtain any CCTV footage whatsoever from Providence Row Charity.


With regard to the reinstatement of my joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), which originally ran from July 2005 to September 2006, I reconfirm that last Friday Broadway Homelessness and Support gathered more specific details from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about my benefits claim of 17 July 2009. As I stated in my email to you of 4 August, I was informed by Broadway City Outreach team that although my part of the claim has been processed and payment due to me no later than close of business yesterday (not received), my wife's part of the claim is currently suspended because the DWP has lost her National Insurance Number (NINO) and, as a consequence, she needs to be issued with a new NINO before her part of the claim can be processed.

I can confirm that as at 9.30am this morning no payment has been received by me from the DWP. Moreover, I am in receipt of a letter from Haringey Council dated 4 August advising that the Council cannot process my claim for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit until they have more information to work out my benefit. I must (i) tell them my partner's National Insurance Number and provide proof that it belongs to her/him, for example, a letter or form issued by the DWP or HM Revenue and Customs, and (ii) provide current proof of my partner's Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based)/(Contribution Based) in the form of a recent letter from the DWP showing my current address or a recent bank statement showing the most up to date payment being paid directly into their account.

The Council also states that I must give all this information to them within one month of the date of same letter, or my claim (to be treated as made on 17 July) will not be paid and I will have to reapply. (You will note that this email to you has been copied to my Landlady, Mrs. Belinda McKenzie, and a hard copy of same will be presented by hand to Haringey Council first thing tomorrow morning.)

I reconfirm that on Tuesday I met again with Broadway City Outreach team. As I also stated in my email to you of 4 August, it is my understanding from this meeting that (a) Broadway Homelessness and Support expect to hear from the DWP with an appointment for my wife to attend an interview for a NINO "as soon as possible", given that the DWP "lost" her original NINO, and (b) the Broadway City Outreach team has been informed by the DWP that the fact that we were unable to retrieve any personal identification documents following the aforementioned robbery at the Dellow Centre will not militate against her. Should I be mistaken on personal identification in particular, and my wife's Big Issue vendor badge (badge no. 1170) will not suffice in the circumstances, please would you so advise at the earliest possible opportunity.

That we are dealing with an obvious "mistake" (however deliberate) - namely, the losing of my wife's NINO by the DWP - I cannot imagine what would motivate the officials to deny my wife and me benefits to which we are entitled. I have an appointment to meet with Broadway City Outreach team at 11.30am this morning to apply for a second crisis loan, failing which my wife and I may be forced back to sleeping rough at Salters' Hall (see attached email of 13 July 2009 from Superintendent Lorraine Cussen of Snow Hill Police Station). We have already accumulated a debt to the DWP of £210 as from 20 July 2009.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey

cc The Rt. Hon. Yvette Cooper MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
His Grace Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
Mrs. Jo. Ansell, Chief Executive of Providence Row Charity
Superintendent Lorraine Cussen, Snow Hill Police Station
Mrs. Belinda McKenzie, Landlady