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Found Fit For Work- Because She Shook Assessor’s Hand

December 14, 2017

Do you shake hands? I do – with people I’m meeting for the first time, and often meeting up with people I already know really well. But the classic handshake is now not the single accepted greeting, and even with strangers you must awkwardly negotiate the possibility of the kiss on one or both cheeks, or bro shake with optional shoulder bump.

But I’ve been trained to think of the unhesitating handshake as simple good manners. The same, I suspect, is true of former pub landlady Bethen Thorpe from north London, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 2014. She had to apply for disability benefit, filled in a 35-page application form, and then travelled to Chelmsford, Essex, for an assessment meeting. She was turned down because she shook the DWP assessor’s hand, which was taken as evidence of her fitness for work.

The handshake, that historic gesture of good faith, was turned against her. Since then, Thorpe has had the handshake-dismissal overturned on appeal. But what lessons are to be drawn? Only this. If you’re disabled and meeting your DWP assessor for the first time – or any time – just offer up your cheek for a delicate, feather-light kiss.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2017 1:24 am

    >”just offer up your cheek for a delicate, feather-light kiss.”
    But only if you want to get punched in the face… And then starved to death.

    “One of the things the report said was I couldn’t have a disability because I shook hands with the assessor at the end of the meeting”

    How come ‘journalists’ still don’t know what ‘Fraud’ or ‘Hate Crime’ are?

    Not exactly difficult (for literate planet Earth dwelling Humans)

    Fraud Act 2006 –

    2 Fraud by false representation

    (1) A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and
    (b)intends, by making the representation—
    (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

    (2) A representation is false if—
    (a)it is untrue or misleading, and
    (b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.

    (3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—
    (a)the person making the representation, or
    (b)any other person.

    (4) A representation may be express or implied.

    (5) For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).

    1 Fraud

    (3)A person who is guilty of fraud is liable—
    (b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to a fine (or to both).

    Misconduct in Public Office –

    (Meaning of Public Function) Human Rights Act 1998 –


  2. Sister Marika Rebicsek permalink
    December 14, 2017 12:52 pm

    That is disgusting. Thanks for sharing. I know what to do if I go for assessment in future, I will keep my hands to myself and in any case i don’t like to shake hands as it is too painful for me anyway!


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