Protest set to take place as Dundee welfare rights activist due in court

08/06/2015
CommonWeal

Dr Cox was representing a “a highly vulnerable female benefit claimant” at Arbroath Job Centre on 29 January

WELFARE rights activists from across Scotland are set to protest outside Forfar Sheriff Court on Tuesday, in a case that campaigners argue could have far reaching consequences for “the right of welfare groups to conduct their work.”

Dr Tony Cox was arrested after defending a claimant at Abroath Job Centre on 29 January, charged with “threatening behaviour”, “refusing to give his name and address” and “resisting arrest”. He denies all the charges.

Dr Cox, a Dundee based Scottish Unemployed Workers Network (SUWN) activist and organiser, is employed as a welfare rights officer with the Brooksbank Money Advice Centre, and was taken into custody after a pre-arranged meeting between “a highly vulnerable female benefit claimant” and the job centre.

The claimant Dr Cox was representing suffers from severe dyslexia and literacy problems. She had been signed up to the Universal Job Match system, where welfare claimants fill out job applications online. She was being asked by job centre staff to apply for five jobs per day. SUWN say the pressure of the job applications “had led to her having several panic attacks”, leading to Dr Cox’s involvement in her case. (Click here to read more).

“This is a serious case for Dr Cox personally,” SUWN stated, “but it also has massive repercussions for welfare rights activists and groups throughout the country. The fundamental right of benefit claimants to advice and representation is being impeded.”

SUWN are calling on the Crown Prosecution Service to throw the case out as, they argue, it is not in the public interest.

As well as Forfar, events in support of Dr Cox are set to take place at job centres in Glasgow, Cardiff and London.

Picture courtesy of Max. G.