Comment: No excuse for disabled abuse

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The vandals who targeted the disabled parking bay outside Alexander Begg’s Currie home clearly thought that they were having a laugh at the expense of one of life’s chancers.

Mr Begg and his wife are understandably angry and upset, not just because they have been singled out for abuse by an anonymous tormentor, but because of the way that they have been judged.

There is clearly no excuse for the kind of abuse that the couple have suffered. Everyone deserves compassion and support, especially when they are suffering ill health.

The couple’s case cannot be dismissed as simply a neighbourhood spat for it dramatically highlights issues which are affecting many lives across the Lothians.

Everyone knows of someone who has a blue badge yet people wonder whether they should really be entitled to one. There is no doubt that the system is open to abuse and there are people who are only too ready to play the system.

The city has made increasing efforts in recent years to crackdown on blue badge fraud and that has to be welcomed. Knowing that others are cheating the system must be enormously galling for anyone who is struggling with ill health yet is refused a disabled parking permit due to the tight criteria.

It is easy to judge someone who we see carrying their shopping to a car parked in a disabled parking bay without any obvious signs of discomfort. But before we rush to judge we have to remember that it is all but impossible for those on the outside to know who is a deserving case and who is playing the system.

Charities who work with disabled people and their families eloquently make the point. Caring for a child who has a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, for instance, can be challenging beyond the understanding of most parents. For a family like that, a blue badge can make a trip to the shops bearable, yet for all the world they will not “look disabled”.

We all do well to remember the words of wisdom we were told as children, never judge a book by its cover.