Council letter wrongly told family dad was dead

Michael Judge,with son Alexander and daughter Michelle. Picture: Jane Barlow
Michael Judge,with son Alexander and daughter Michelle. Picture: Jane Barlow
Share this article
Have your say

COUNCIL chiefs have been labelled “cruel and insensitive” after ordering the son of a “dead” 80-year-old tenant to visit their offices to sign a new lease – despite the man being alive and well.

Michael Judge’s son Alexander, 43, from Oxgangs, was stunned to receive a letter from the council’s housing department offering condolences on the passing of his father – who was sitting just feet away from him, watching TV.

To add insult to injury, the note was received on the day of the former long distance lorry driver’s 80th birthday – Tuesday, October 1.

Michael, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia, said: “The last thing I need is the council trying to kill me off now.”

Alexander, who shares a two-bedroomed ground floor flat with his father, said: “I really could not believe it. I had to read it again and again to make sure I was reading it right. I then thought it was a practical joke and that someone had just pushed it through the letterbox for a laugh.

“I can’t get over how impersonal and insensitive it was. Not only have they wrongly claimed that he is dead but they have also sent us a letter ordering us down to sign a new lease on the day of his birthday.

“Surely for something like this they could have called around to the flat and asked when would be best to sign the form.”

Alexander’s sister, Michelle Harper, 50, was equally “outraged” upon being informed of the bungled letter and immediately demanded an apology.

However, chiefs at the South West Neighbourhood Office instead told her £491 was also now due in rent arrears before attempting to lay the blame at the door of the Department of Work and Pensions.

Eventually the family did receive an apology on behalf of the grandfather-of-four, but only once they called around to the centre.

The letter, which was sent by a housing officer, reads: “Please accept our condolences for the sad loss of Michael Judge who was a joint tenant at the above address.”

It goes on to order that 
Alexander contacts the neighbourhood office “to sign a missive of let in your sole name” adding that “for this we require a copy of the death certificate”.

Mum-of-two Michelle, from Leith said: “The letter was so bleak it’s incredible. When we went down there one of the women claimed that it was a genuine mistake and that it was best we forget about it now and move on like it was a bit of a joke.

“We only had a party for my dad a few days before. Then just days later the council are sending us out this letter.”

Council chiefs blamed the mistake on an administrative error and said a review is being undertaken into the wording of such correspondence.

A city council spokeswoman said: “The letter was sent to Mr Judge due to an administrative error and we would like to apologise again unreservedly for the distress caused.”