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ACCLAIM Questions Identity Interest

31 March 2004

ACCLAIM Questions Identity Interes

Press Release - ACCLAIM Support Groups

ACC claims there is no public interest involved in the fact that an ACC employee, a former case manager for the ACC subsidiary Catalyst, is using a pseudonym to hide his real identity.

Acclaim support groups beg to differ.

"James Sowman" was writing to accident victims under a false name. An accident victim giving a false name to ACC would be accused of fraud, but not the so-called James Sowman. He has the minister's support. She said so. "I support him," she said. According to the Minister in her reply to questions in Parliament yesterday, the so-called "James Sowman" is using a pseudonym because he is too afraid to use his own name as he fears for his own safety. There are several questions that ACCLAIM feels need to be asked:

If the claimant's behaviour has been so awful that the employee is concerned for his safety, and he feels the need to use a false name, should not that claimant be managed by the Remote Claims Unit that the ACC have set up for this very reason and/or the police advised so that charges could be considered? It is Acclaim's understanding that an employer has a legal statutory duty to do so under OSH regulations if an individual is this dangerous. The public are now asking, "Why has this not been done?"

Could it be that it is the case manager's conduct has been such that he thought he may no longer be safe because of the way he has handled people's files? What particular cases was "James Sowman" handling that put him in such perceived danger? ACCLAIM is well aware that Catalyst was used as a means to 'aggressively rehabilitate' the tail. Perhaps therein lies the answer.

Meanwhile, ACC has been threatening to cut people's compensation should they fail to produce photo identification to prove they are who they say they are. One example, cited recently by ACCLAIM, shows that Yvonne Wood, case manager of the Hutt Valley ACC office, wrote in a letter dated 23 Dec 2003 " If I do not have a copy of photo identification on file by 16th January 2004 I will hold and not pay any further payments until you have supplied the information requested."

The section of the Act quoted by Yvonne Wood does not give ACC the authority to decline or deny an entitlement for not supplying photo identification. The actual requirement is proof of identity. This can be done by producing a certified copy of a person's birth certificate. Yvonne Wood demanded photo identification or she would not pay further entitlements. This is not within the legislation, in fact it is an obvious attempt to threaten a claimant, two days before Christmas, that unless they complied they would have their rightful entitlement stopped.

As the above shows there is cogent evidence that ACC is not acting ethically and within the law despite the Minister's assertions and, in fact, is fettering the exercise of discretion and going behind the law on every occasion that it can. Case managers using pseudonyms, minister's making misleading statements in the house, third party medical assessors going against previous medical reports in order to remove 'the tail', spending thousands of taxpayer's dollars on Work Preparation Programmes of dubious usefulness. Where will it end?

Claimants are again requesting the opportunity to give their documentary evidence on oath to a select-committee. Only then will the real identity of current ACC practises be revealed.

Ends

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