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Disability news roundup: Gary McKinnon, Universal Credit, blind man gets tasered

Emma Tracey Emma Tracey | 12:15 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2012

Newspaper front pages

It was an unusually high profile week in disability news, as three separate stories each garnered multiple headlines.

• On Tuesday morning, Home Secretary Theresa May halted the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US.

This has been a long-running affair. Ten years ago, McKinnon hacked in to the FBI's computer systems, harvesting passwords and other information, and it's alleged he caused at least 700 thousand Dollars worth of damage. US authorities have wanted him to stand trial in the states.

Now 46, Gary McKinnon has since received a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and depression. Mrs. May said that she made her decision on advice that McKinnon was likely to take his own life were he extradited, saying this was a human rights issue. The case has now been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK.

In an article for The Independent, Jerome Taylor wondered why politicians, celebrities and the media flock to Gary McKinnon's cause but stay silent about the likes of Talha Ahsan from Tooting? Ahsan also has an Asperger's diagnosis yet was extradited two weeks ago to face a charge of running a pro-jihadi website. This article prompted the 5 live discussion, This debate will doubtless raise its head again in the future if other cases involve people with the same condition.

• On Wednesday, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson dominated the news programmes. She was fronting a report by The Children's Society, Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK, which says that Up to half a million disabled people and their families stand to lose out under the government's proposed Universal Credit - the much discussed unified benefits system set to take effect next October.

Responding to the report during PrimeMinister's questions, David Cameron said that support was being targeted at the most disabled and that overall funding was going up.

• Later the same day, the story broke of how Lancashire police had tasered a blind man, after receiving reports from the public that someone was on the streets waving a samurai sword in a threatening manner.

Colin Farmer has had two strokes and his vision is very low as a result. He was unaware that it was the police who were encircling him before he was tasered, he thought he was about to be mugged. Farmer says he is now too scared to leave the house.

A man with a sword was later arrested nearby. Police are said to have "deep regrets" about the incident and the case has been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Elsewhere in the news

Brain injury 'link' to young offenders (BBC News, Friday 19 October)

Shropshire bone cancer schoolgirl gets titanium leg (BBC News, Thursday 18 October)

Olympic stadium set to hold the 2017 World Paralympic Championships (The telegraph, Thursday 18 October)

Corrie star tackles disability role (The Belfast Telegraph, Thursday 18 October)

Disability benefit change concern after inquiry (BBC News, Wednesday 17 October)

Disabled benefits: Tanni Grey-Thompson and Steve Webb (BBC News, Wednesday 17 October)

Is the benefits system too baffling to be solved? (BBC News Magazine, Wednesday 17 October)

Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness' (BBC News, Wednesday 17 October)

450,000 disabled people to lose out under universal credit, study finds (The Guardian, Wednesday 17 October)

Stigma of mental ill health is 'worse than the illness' (The Independent, Thursday 18 October)

Opinion: Why did the BBC use real footage of disabled people being tortured in a trailer? (Independent, Wednesday 17 October)

Disability charities warn of families 'at breaking point' over gaps in care (The Guardian, Monday 15 October)

Disability benefit shake-up fears of organisations (BBC News, Sunday 14 October)

Jimmy Savile 'groped Julie Fernandez when she was 14' (BBC News, Friday 12 October)



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