Northampton benefits assessor found guilty of calling claimant 'too fat' and faces ban

Barham was working at the Northampton offices of Capita when he made the remarks.
Barham was working at the Northampton offices of Capita when he made the remarks.

A disability benefits assessor from Northampton who said a claimant was “too fat” to wipe her bum faces a ban from the profession.

Former paramedic Alan Barham was found unfit to practice by a tribunal service today (September 20) after making the remarks to an undercover reporter.

He also bragged about making £20,000 a month and said he filled in applicants’ forms before even assessing them while working at the Northampton offices of Capita.

He said of one woman that she had a “disability known as being fat” and “too fat” to wipe her bottom.

Barham was caught making the remarks about a disability benefit applicant on Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches: The Great Benefits Row’, broadcast in April 2016.

He was found guilty of making the comments to the undercover journalist, but was cleared of breaking confidentiality or taking photos of assessment forms on his phone.

Panel chair of the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service Rachel O’Connell said: “The registrant described the vulnerable service user in a disgusting and disparaging way.

“This comment was so serious that fellow members of the profession would consider it deplorable and it therefore amounts to misconduct.

“The registrant accepts that he had become arrogant and big headed.

“He was held in high regard by colleagues and was well paid. He allowed this to go to his head.”

Barham also told the undercover reporter that he had denied a benefits claim to a one-legged man, saying: “So you would think that something as significant as a leg missing would be ‘Oh God there’s the money’.

“But when you get to the nuts and bolts of it he does everything really.”

Barham had told the tribunal panel he was facing enormous stress at the time of filming and dislikes swearing normally.

He said: “At the time, like I said, I was somewhere where I’ve never been before with the arrogance, the ignorance and selfishness.”

He also claimed that partially filling in forms before assessment, known as ‘pre-population’, is standard practice, and he was only following instructions and guidelines laid down by Capita.

Barham’s fitness to practice was found impaired by reason of misconduct. He waits to see if he will be handed a suspension.