Another Murder by Order of the Child Support Court
Coroner hits out at 'reprehensible' Child Support Agency for hounding father who killed himself A coroner has denounced the Child Support Agency for bombarding a father with demands for money even after he killed himself.
Child Support Agency, child, children, father, coroner, debt Last Updated: 7:52AM GMT 01 Dec 2008
Neil Hutchinson, 33, feared bailiffs would be sent to his home in Birstall, West Yorks, and hanged himself in March as the much-criticised agency chased a £6,500 debt.
But despite being told of the factory worker's death on five occasions by his grieving parents, his ex-partner and the coroner's office, the warning letters continued with the latest being posted in August.
His parents had even contacted their local MP in a bid to halt the demands.
Peter Rose from Dewsbury Coroner's Office was the first to notify the CSA about Mr Hutchinson's death.
He said: "They have not amended their records and have just ignored each occasion that information was passed to them."
Calling for a full inquiry, Coroner Roger Whittaker called the Government agency "arrogant and reprehensible", adding that he was "horrified" the demands had continued after they had been notified of Mr Hutchinson's suicide.
He had fathered a daughter in the 1990s but had split up with the girl's mother. The inquest heard evidence from his mother Eileen, who said: "He was bombarded with letters. We all believe he was hounded into ending his life by the CSA."
Her statement revealed that her son was £5,000 pounds in arrears in 2002 which increased to £6,500 pounds in 2003. She added that she had called the CSA on his behalf when the demands increased from £80 pounds to £110 pounds a week, and claimed they admitted was a ploy to get people to contact them.
After the inquest at Bradford Coroner's Court, Mr Hutchinson's father, Keith, said he welcomed the call for a full inquiry, and added: "The whole situation has been disgusting. It's bad enough losing your son without being harassed and hounded afterwards."
A Child Support Agency spokesman said: "The Child Support Agency takes the coroner's reported remarks extremely seriously and is urgently investigating the facts alleged at the inquest.
"It would not be appropriate to comment further until we have seen a full transcript of the proceedings. In the meantime we offer our sincere condolences to the family of Mr Hutchinson."
The Daily Telegraph disclosed recently that from next year, absent fathers will be pursued beyond the grave for maintenance payments by the successor to the CSA, the semi-independent Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
For the first time, officials are to be given the right to make claims on the estates of men who die while owing their ex-wives or partners money.
The rules are being changed after thousands of fathers died owing cash to the CSA during its troubled 15-year history, with their £60million debts contributing to a mountain of £3.8billion in unpaid maintenance.