ONE of the Capital’s best-known writers was driven to suicide by the Government’s welfare reforms, a doctor has claimed.
Dr Stephen Carty, a Leith GP, told the welfare reform committee yesterday that letters informing Paul Reekie, right, his incapacity and housing benefits would be stopped were used as the suicide note of the iconoclastic poet and author.
Dr Carty said: “Paul Reekie took his life following a work capability assessment. He didn’t leave a suicide note. He left on his desk two letters. One was a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him his incapacity benefit had been stopped and the other was from the council informing him his housing benefits had stopped.”
Mr Reekie – a contemporary of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in the early 1990s – died aged 48 at his Leith home in June 2010. He is believed to have had a heart condition and suffered from depression.
Dr Carty is a member of the Black Triangle Campaign – a group set up to fight the Government’s welfare reforms.
He told the welfare reform committee he had been “staggered” by the DWP’s decision to judge people “who are clearly severely ill” fit for work. He also called computer-based work assessments “inadequate”.
Dr David Bell, of BMA Scotland, called £2 billion in projected savings from the reform “inhumane and unreasonable” and said: “The frequency of successful appeals seems to demonstrate the shortcomings of the mechanism. You would not have 60 per cent plus success on appeal if the system was working properly.”
Mr Reekie grew up in Leslie, Fife, and moved to Edinburgh at the age of 16 to train as a radio officer at Leith Nautical College.
He reached probably his widest audience when his poem When Caesar’s Mushroom is in Season was published on the frontispiece of Welsh’s short story collection, The Acid House.