Victim compensation U-turn sparks war of words between Manchester MPs after ‘appalling’ government vote

By Jon Robinson

A criminal compensation U-turn by the government is prompting war of words between two Manchester MPs.

John Leech, MP for Withington, yesterday hit back at criticism from Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, for voting for cuts he campaigned against.

The government’s cuts, which take effect today, mean that compensation will cease to be available to victims who sustain injuries as a result of crime, such as facial disfigurement, permanent speech impediment or multiple fractured ribs.

Lib Dem MP, Mr Leech, said: “The Early Day Motion 422 was not proposed by me. It was an Early Day Motion from Hazel Blears, which I supported.

“Andrew Gwynne has got his facts wrong.”

He added that it was unfortunate that the argument for maintaining compensation levels was lost, and that it was not helped by Labour not arguing for the status quo.

Mr Leech said: “The changes that we voted on were not just about level of compensation or who could get it. There were other elements of the changes that are an improvement.”

He added that if he has voted against the legislation, then he would have been voting against such policies as the use of personal statements for victims, to let criminals know how their actions have harmed victims and a new compensation scheme for victims of overseas terrorism.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Gwynne, the shadow health minister, said: “I was appalled when the government brought forward these draconian and punitive cuts to the compensation that is relied on by thousands of seriously injured victims of crime and their families.

“Even more unpalatable was the hypocrisy of John Leech, who claimed to be running a campaign against these awful changes.

“After proposing an Early Day Motion against the cuts and using the local press to call for other backbench MPs to sign it, he then strolled into the voting lobbies and backed the cuts.”

He said that Mr Leech’s refused to let local victims of serious crime get back on their feet, and branded it ‘it a slap in the face for all who really need this help’.

“His U-turn is typical of Lib Dem MPs who think they can say one thing on the doorstep yet go back to London and do the opposite,” he added.

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