An injured soldier left suicidal after being falsely accused of benefit fraud has won an appeal against a decision to cut a £70-a-month carers‘ allowance for his wife.
Former lance corporal Adam Douglas, who nearly died in a grenade attack inIraq in 2003, had spent two years fighting the Department for Work and Pensions to keep the funding.
He said after the judgment on Tuesday: “I have been completely vindicated after being accused of one of the worst social crimes possible. Every time I presented the DWP with medical evidence, they ignored me.
“This battle left me feeling suicidal, made me doubt my own injuries and even made me question whether I had been in Iraq at all. It has been a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money pursing me.”
He added that the case, previously highlighted by the Guardian, has caused him to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and left him unable to work since last year.
Douglas was part of the East and West Riding regiment in Iraq in 2003 and was on the front line of a major firefight when he was shot at with a rocket propelled grenade. He sustained severe spleen and spinal injuries and was evacuated to the UK where he has undergone several operations, leaving him unable to bathe, dress and go to the toilet by himself.
However, the DWP stopped the allowance after heavily edited undercover surveillance showed Douglas helping friends as he moved house.
A Leeds tribunal heard that the footage, supplied by Scottish Widows in relation to an insurance claim, had had time and date stamps changed and that Douglas’s efforts led to him being hospitalised.
He told the tribunal he had only helped out of extreme circumstances because removal workers cancelled, leaving him at risk of large legal fees if there was a delay in moving to his new, more disabled-friendly home.
Douglas said he now wants to focus on running his charity, the Forgotten Heroes, which helps former soldiers and their carers appeal similar DWP decisions.
Last year it was revealed nearly 40% of appeals against the government over stopped disability payments were upheld.
A DWP spokesperson said: “A decision on benefit entitlement is taken after consideration of the claim form and any supporting medical evidence.
“Individuals have a right to appeal and if someone comes forward with further evidence then a claim may be reconsidered.
“From April the government is simplifying the financial support for members of the armed forces who have been seriously injured, recognising the considerable sacrifice they have made to keep the country safe.”