Obviously enough we didn’t – or someone didn’t, someone still to be determined – do entirely right by those who died. But those who at least claimed to be alive yet still victims, yes, we did do the right thing. As this story of someone defrauding the system shows. Yes, I’m using fraud as an example, a proof even, that the system worked and worked properly:
A woman posing as a widow from Grenfell Tower pretended her “dead” husband had been miraculously found in a cave as part of a £19,000 fraud.
Joyce Msokeri, 47, told authorities she had escaped the devastating west London fire in June last year and thought her husband had died – but she was actually single and living miles away at the time.
For weeks she stayed in a Hilton hotel and filled the room to bursting with donations and gifts from well-wishers. While there she concocted an elaborate ploy to claim insurance for the death of her fictitious partner.
But when her scam began to unravel, she pressed on with her fraudulent activities, exploiting a vulnerable man by persuading him to pretend to be her husband so she could tell investigators she had miraculously found him living in a cave in Margate, Kent.
But, I hear the cry, someone defrauding both the good and honest people trying to help and also the taxpayer is not an example of a system working, is it?
Well, yes, it is:
Msokeri was finally charged and was later found guilty at her trial at Southwark Crown Court on three counts of fraud against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Hilton and charities.
When disaster strikes the necessity is to offer aid and comfort to those afflicted. And it’s vastly better that we have a very wide definition of those affected. Who gives a damn whether some fraudster gets a few nights in a hotel for free as long as all those burned out also get a roof over their heads? Well, OK, that’s arguable I guess but it is the argument I make. Better than 5,000 people get a free lunch outside the still smouldering rubble than that 5 kids go hungry because someone wants to see residency proof before handing out the packed sandwiches.
However, this does not mean some agape’d open hand forever. As the emergency fades then it is entirely appropriate that the net tightens, that claims are checked and claims are restricted. To the point that those who have been abusing that aid do indeed get jugged. I would thus, and oddly perhaps, insist that we have been doing right by those evicted by the Grenfell fire. We cast our net wide enough that those who were obviously fraudulent in their claims (this is by no means the first case) still got them paid out. Rightly so, for better we did that than denied those in real need. Then we tighten the net over time. That’s just the way we should do it.
Yes, evidence that people defrauded the Grenfell Tower outreach is the very evidence we need to insist that we were doing the right thing. For that evidence of obvious fraud is the very evidence we need that we were, for a time, suitably open handed.