By John Pring in Disability New Service.
A county court has delivered a devastating judgment against the Local Government Ombudsman, after it discriminated against a disabled woman by failing to provide the reasonable adjustments she needed to lodge a complaint against a local authority.
The ombudsman has been ordered to pay £12,500 in damages to Jeanine Blamires to compensate her for the ordeal, following breaches of both the Equality Act and the Data Protection Act by the ombudsman.
Although the judgment is only in draft form, its conclusions are unlikely to be altered.
District judge Joanna Geddes even awarded aggravated damages against the ombudsman over the breach of the Equality Act, because she said it had defended the case in a way that “added to the injury, frustration and distress” felt by Blamires, which had “exacerbated” the symptoms of her long-term health conditions.
She also awarded aggravated damages for the Data Protection Act breach, because of the ombudsman’s “continued denial” that it had broken the law.
Blamires has told Disability News Service that she was “disgusted” and “sickened” by the ombudsman’s behaviour and that she believed it had now “lost its moral authority to adjudicate over others”.
Judge Geddes said Blamires’ husband David told the court that his wife had “found the whole process extremely distressing and has on several occasions been reduced to tears by the intransigence of the defendant in not meeting her disabled needs by making reasonable adjustments.
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