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Liz McInnes and more than 70 other MPs have written to the Justice Secretary to demand tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.

In October last year the government announced it intended to introduce tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving, but 8 months later no legislation has yet been brought forward.

Liz McInnes MP has long supported the Justice for Joseph campaign set up in memory of her constituent Joseph Brown-Lartey who was killed in Rochdale in 2014 by a driver speeding at 80mph in a 30mph zone. His killer was sentenced to just 6 years in prison. Alongside Joseph’s family, the road safety charity Brake, MPs from all parties, and many other families affected by tragedies such as this, Liz has been campaigning for tougher sentences to be introduced which better reflect the severity and impact of the crime.

Liz McInnes MP says: “The government consultation into this ended in February 2017. It then took them until October 2017 to announce their conclusions. All those who have campaigned for tougher sentences were incredibly relieved to hear last October that the government intended to toughen the sentences however we are disappointed that 8 months later we are still waiting for changes to be introduced.

Since October I and many others have contacted Ministers to ask for updates, only to be told each time that the legislation will be introduced ‘when parliamentary time allows’. This simply isn’t good enough. As we wait, more and more families are being forced to suffer not only a lifetime of grief at the loss of their loved ones, but the double injustice of seeing their killers receive prison sentences of only a few years. The tragic killing of Corey and Casper Platt-May in February this year underlines this fact. If the law had been changed more quickly, their killer would be serving a sentence which better reflects their horrendous crime.

We call on the Justice Secretary and the government to introduce legislation now so that no more families need to suffer this injustice.”

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear David,

In April, the killer of 6 and 2 year old Corey and Casper Platt-May was sentenced to just 9 years in prison. Corey and Casper were on their way to the park with their family when they were killed by Robert Brown, who had 30 previous convictions for driving without a license or insurance. Both Mr Brown and his passenger Gwendoline Harrison were high on cocaine when their car hit the two small children.

Mr Brown and Ms Harrison tried to escape the scene after the crash, and even fought with members of the public – and then the police – who tried to stop them from fleeing.

Most people would surely agree that such a horrendous crime deserves a tougher sentence than just 9 years in prison. With parole, Mr Brown could be out even sooner.

Sadly, Corey and Casper’s family are not the only ones to suffer the added injustice of seeing their loved one’s killer be given a derisory sentence.

We and many other MPs are all too familiar with cases similar to that of Corey and Casper, and we have lobbied the government for a number of years for tougher sentences to be introduced. We’ve been supported in this by the road safety charity Brake and other organisations. Finally, in late 2016 the pressure told when the government announced it would hold a public consultation on the issue.

That consultation ended in February 2017. This was followed by months of government silence on the issue, until at last in October the government announced they would introduce the possibility of life imprisonment for the crime.

That was 8 months ago, and we are still waiting.

While the government prevaricates, families continue to suffer not only a lifetime of grief at the loss of their loved ones but the double injustice of seeing their killers receive prison sentences of only a few years.

If the law had been changed last Autumn as a matter of urgency, Corey and Casper’s killer might be serving a sentence which better reflects the fact he took the lives of two small children.

How much longer will the families who have campaigned for tougher sentences have to wait, and how many more will suffer the same injustice before changes are finally made?

We would be most grateful for a response at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,    

Liz McInnes MP

Paula Sherriff MP

Sandy Martin MP

Tony Lloyd MP

Toby Perkins MP

Tulip Siddiq MP

Conor McGinn MP

Mike Kane MP

Ellie Reeves MP

Faisal Rashid MP

Siobhain McDonagh MP

Thelma Walker MP

Kevan Jones MP

Graham Stringer MP

Kelvin Hopkins MP

Marsha De Cordova MP

Emma Hardy MP

Rachael Maskell MP

John Grogan MP

Nick Smith MP

Madeleine Moon MP

Anneliese Dodds MP

John Spellar MP

Nic Dakin MP

Vernon Coaker MP

Peter Dowd MP

Ann Clwyd MP

Ruth Smeeth MP

Hugh Gaffney MP

Teresa Pearce MP

Preet Gill MP

Jack Dromey MP

Gill Furniss MP

Ruth George MP

Alex Sobel MP

George Howarth MP

Helen Goodman MP

Diana Johnson MP

Judith Cummins MP

Colleen Fletcher MP

Peter Kyle MP

Marie Rimmer MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Stephen Timms MP

Gordon Marsden MP

Keith Vaz MP

Jess Phillips MP

Rosie Cooper MP

Sarah Champion MP

Jenny Chapman MP

Emma Dent Coad MP

Ben Lake MP

Anna Turley MP

Ian Lucas MP

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP

Tracy Brabin MP

John McDonnell MP

Dan Jarvis MP

Kate Hollern MP

Ian Mearns MP

Naz Shah MP

David Drew MP

Graham Jones MP

Liz Twist MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Ian Austin MP

Alex Cunningham MP

Susan Elan Jones MP

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

Jared O’Mara MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Jess Morden MP

Nick Smith MP

Roger Godsiff MP

Wayne David MP

MPs DEMAND TOUGHER SENTENCES FOR DANGEROUS DRIVING - NOW

Liz McInnes and more than 70 other MPs have written to the Justice Secretary to demand tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.

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Liz McInnes has welcomed an announcement from Rochdale Council that Transport for Greater Manchester have agreed in principle to the extension of the Metrolink system to Middleton.

Liz McInnes MP says: “It is excellent news that after a great deal of lobbying by myself and Rochdale Council, TfGM have finally signalled their support for the Metrolink system to be extended to Middleton. I was living in Middleton at the time that the tram network first opened and along with many other residents I was disappointed and surprised that a major town such as Middleton wasn’t included from the start.

I’ve long called for Middleton and Heywood to be included in the Metrolink network and for public transport links here to be improved. The recent chaos with Northern Rail has highlighted the problems on our railways, but we mustn’t forget the bus and tram network either. If we’re going to get the region growing we need to get it moving, and reliable and affordable public transport is key. Extending Metrolink to Middleton is a good start.”

Liz welcomes Middleton Metrolink plans

Liz McInnes has welcomed an announcement from Rochdale Council that Transport for Greater Manchester have agreed in principle to the extension of the Metrolink system to Middleton.

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This afternoon I took part in the #MEdebate in Westminster Hall. 

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is such a misunderstood illness, as the sad case of Merryn Crofts from Norden demonstrates. I spoke with Merryn's mum Clare this week, and it's clear that much more needs to be done to tackle ME and to help those who suffer its awful symptoms.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by this illness, please let me know at liz.mcinnes.mp@parliament.uk

You can read my full contribution and tribute to Merryn, her family and all those fighting for better recognition and treatment below, or click here to watch some of my speech.

FULL SPEECH:

I thank the Hon Lady from Glasgow North West for securing this very important debate.

Merryn Crofts, who has already been referred to in this debate and is one of just two people who have been given ME as a cause of death, was my constituent and lived in Norden in the Rochdale area of Heywood & Middleton. I spoke with her Mum, Clare, this week who told me that the reports about Merryn in the Newspapers didn’t really cover the whole of Merryn’s condition. 

Clare wanted to be here today to hear the debate but could not travel to London because of a new baby in the family – so I hope that she is able to watch this debate back home in Rochdale and I send my best wishes to her and to the new arrival.

Merryn met all the diagnostic criteria set by NICE and by the Canadian Consensus Criteria for ME/CFS.

Merryn was totally bedbound; she physically could not get out of bed.
She suffered so badly from postural hypotension that she blacked out if placed in a sitting position. 

She was hypersensitive to noise, light, touch and movement.
She suffered so badly from pain; head, muscle, neurological and stomach pain that she could not get out of bed.

Her GP said that she’d worked in a hospice for 10 years, looking after cancer patients, and that in that job she couldn’t always take away pain but that she could manage the pain.

But the GP said that in Merryn’s case, her pain was unmanageable. Although Merryn was on diamorphine and ketamine she was still in pain.
Any kind of stimulus, even just a nurse walking in to the room, was an exertion to Merryn.

Merryn was permanently on syringe drivers and receiving injections. She was permanently nauseous. The terms ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are often used interchangeably but Merryn’s mum tells me that fatigue was the least of her symptoms and that in her view, the use of the term CFS should be abandoned as ME is so much more than just that.

Merryn was just 15 years old when her illness started. For the first year she was not housebound and she used to go out in a wheelchair. 

But as her condition worsened she became unable to go out – she went from a young girl who loved life – her passions were drama and acting - to a housebound patient whose family had to do more and more for her – even things like chatting on her behalf on social media, simple things which she was no longer able to do on her own.

I mention social media because Merryn was helped a great deal by the online ME community; her mum tells me that Merryn always wanted positive support and was very choosey about who she communicated with – she didn’t want to speak with people who exuded negativity. But she was part of a big online ME Community which included ballet dancers and sportspeople; raising the issue of whether research should look at the lifestyles of those who contract ME – is there a susceptibility which can be exacerbated by leading an active life and pursuing strenuous sports or vocations?

Merryn’s mum is very critical of the PACE guidance given by NICE and attributes this to the worsening of Merryn’s condition. 

She tells me that Merryn thought she could push through the condition and keep going, whilst her family really wanted her to slow down.

Sadly, it was only when the family contacted a private medical practitioner that Merryn was given advice to slow down and told that she needed to rest. The specific advice given was “Whatever you feel you can do, only do 50% of it.”

Merryn’s mum feels very strongly that had Merryn been given this advice when her condition started that she may not have gone on to develop severe ME and she strongly urges that the NICE guidelines be reviewed. I hope that the Minister may be able to refer to this in his/her response.

Merryn’s family are still very involved in the ME Community and run Merryn’s Legacy Facebook Page which raises money for research and includes such fundraising activities as skydiving and climbing Ben Nevis – impressive feats which are done on behalf of the ME Community as representative of the things they would like to do but are unable to because of their condition.

We do need to invest more in research into ME – the best research is being done in the States but here it is being very much funded by charities and tends to concentrate on psychiatric issues rather than physical changes such as inflammation of the brain and changes to the central nervous system and we do need much more research into this aspect.

Nancy Klimas is a major ME researcher based in Miami who has more than 30 years professional experience and has achieved international recognition for her work. She compares patients with severe ME with those in the terminal stages of HIV/Aids infection in terms of the levels of pain they suffer. And there are many comparisons which can be drawn between HIV/AIDS and ME. 

When HIV was first identified it was thought to be incurable and a certain death sentence but incredible research has produced advanced treatment with retrovirals which although they do not provide a cure can be used to manage the disease and it is no longer the death sentence it was.

In comparison, ME is not seen as a death sentence but as Merryn’s case sadly shows, it can be fatal. It is also described as a kind of living death. The work done on HIV/AIDS shows how powerful good research can be and I hope that in the future, following investment in ME research, we may also see great advances made in the treatment and knowledge around ME.

We also need to invest more in training for our Doctors, especially General Practitioners who are the clinicians likely to be the first port of call for those suffering with ME – our GPs need to have the skills to be able to recognise the signs & symptoms and to signpost patients to the appropriate specialists.

I hope that the Minister may be able to refer to these points in his/her response and I am immensely grateful to Merryn’s family for sharing so much with me and allowing me to tell her story.

Find out more about ME at http://www.meresearch.org.uk

Liz attends ME debate in parliament

This afternoon I took part in the #MEdebate in Westminster Hall. 

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