fbpx

Post office legal battle launched

  • May 18, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

BBC News, Page last updated at 18:37 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008

A severely disabled woman has taken her campaign to save her local post office to the High Court.

12110924180549Mrs Brown is unable to reach post offices beyond
her local branch

Pensioner Judy Brown, of Hastings, East Sussex, wants a judicial review of Royal Mail’s exemption from laws requiring equality for the disabled.

Her lawyers said plans to close her local branch, Old Town, discriminate against her and other disabled people.

The case has been strongly contested by Royal Mail and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The court heard Mrs Brown was unable to reach other post offices.

‘Out-of-reach’

She argues Old Town and other at-risk post offices in Sussex are profitable, if the figures are read correctly.

In submissions to Mr Justice Davis, Mrs Brown’s legal team said she used Old Town post office for banking, paying bills, shopping, correspondence and presents for grandchildren.

Mrs Brown was unable to attend the hearing in London because of her disability, but her husband, Jonathan Coe, was at the High Court.

He said it was an “outrage” that the government has decided to remove Royal Mail from the list of thousands of public bodies subject to the rules.

Mr Coe said: “It puts the Post Office out of reach for my wife and mother-in-law and many other people.”

‘Marginalised group’

Mrs Brown and her mother fall within the 42% of disabled people who, according to the government, experienced problems accessing goods and services, her legal team told the court.

Elisabeth Laing QC, for Mrs Brown, said the rules were designed to protect a “marginalised group” and to encourage decision-makers to think about them in a transparent and accountable way.

Business Secretary John Hutton, now overseeing the controversial closure programme of 2,500 post offices, exempted Royal Mail from the Disability Equality Duty (DED) in 2006.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions previously said the Royal Mail was still legally required to make its services accessible to all disabled people and does not discriminate in any aspects of its work, in line with the Disability Discrimination Act.

The hearing continues on Tuesday.