Million sickness benefit applicants 'fit for work'

Disabled man at work

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Nearly a million people who applied for sickness benefit have been found fit for work, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP claims 980,400 people - 32% of new applicants for Employment and Support Allowance - were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013.

The figure does not include those who successfully appeal against the ruling.

Disability campaigners said the work tests were "ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair".

A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said many of those passed fit will not, in fact, be capable of entering the workplace in any meaningful sense due to physical or mental health problems.

"They are finding people fit for work when they aren't and they are not even giving them the support they need to get a job. It is a disgrace," he told BBC News.

The DWP says appeals are upheld in 15% of its total "caseload" - and that it is often the result of new evidence being made available.

But a report last year by the Public Accounts Committee found 38% of appeals were successful, a figure said was down to "poor decision making".


Work Capability Assessments were introduced in 2008 to determine who should receive ESA. Decisions are taken by officials at the Department of Work and Pensions using evidence from the assessments, carried out by private contractors such as Atos Healthcare.

In 2010 the current government began phasing out incapacity benefit and requiring all claimants to be assessed before switching to ESA.

Start Quote

With the right support, many people with an illness, health condition or disability can still fulfil their aspiration to get or stay in work”

End Quote Mike Penning Minister for Disable People

The assessment aims to judge how a person's condition limits their ability to work, rather than conferring eligibility for benefits simply because of a certain impairment.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said: "As part of the government's long-term economic plan, it is only fair that we look at whether people can do some kind of work with the right support - rather than just writing them off on long-term sickness benefits, as has happened in the past.

"With the right support, many people with an illness, health condition or disability can still fulfil their aspiration to get or stay in work, allowing them to provide for themselves and their family."

The DWP says those who withdrew their claim after face-to-face interviews with officials either returned to work, recovered or claimed a benefit "more appropriate to their situation".

It says a further 467,400 new ESA claimants were granted the benefit but assessed as being able to work in the future with targeted and extra support.

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Politics Live

    23:56: Goodnight

    That's all from us tonight, at the end of the first week of our live online reporting of general election news. Today many politicians joined those marking the 50th anniversary of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill - an event which stirred memories for many readers. The boat that carried the former prime minister's coffin along the Thames in 1965 repeated the journey, with members of his family among those on board. Prime Minister David Cameron laid a wreath in memory of the World War Two leader, whom he called "a great leader and great Briton" and an evening service was held at Westminster Abbey.

    We will be back on Sunday from 08:00 GMT.

    Winston Churchill making a speech
    @BBCNews 23:32: Express front page

    tweets: Saturday's Daily Express: "Found: Key to longer life"

    Express front page
    @BBCNews 23:28: Saturday Guardian

    tweets: Saturday's Guardian: "Police: arm every officer with a Taser"

    Guardian front page
    @BBCNews 23:23: Times front page

    tweets: Saturday's Times: "Rival camps tear apart Charles's household"

    Times front page
    23:19: Emma Verey

    emails: I was 11. I remember it all very vividly. We went first, my parents, brother and I, to his lying in, very early before school. I remember getting up in the dark. It was very cold, very sombre and even at 7am, when we got there, I remember Big Ben, a long silent snake of people waiting to file in. We watched the funeral procession leaning out of first floor windows from rooms in the ShellMex building along the Strand, all dressed in dark tidy clothes and with none of the party noise and atmosphere you would normally expect a gathering of people to generate. I will never forget the sight of the crowds bowing their heads and the men taking off their hats as the gun carriage passed and then us all turning inside to follow it on television which in itself seemed very strange. Even as children we knew it was a day for silence and a day to remember. I can't believe it was 50 years ago.

    23:04: Greek debt BBC Newsnight BBC Two, 22:30

    Greece's finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, told BBC Newsnight his country was "asking for a few short weeks to put together sensible proposals that minimise cost to European taxpayers".

    @iankatz1000 22:50: Ian Katz, Editor, BBC Newsnight

    tweets: Greek finance min @yanisvaroufakis: "This is not a question of take it or leave it or ultimata or who is going to blink first" #newsnight

    22:41: Cameron next? Channel 4

    Nick Clegg is asked which other politician he would like to face questions on The Last Leg. "David Cameron," he replies instantly.

    22:40: Tuition fees Channel 4

    On The Last Leg TV programme on Channel 4, Nick Clegg is asked how bad he feels, on a scale of one to 10, about the coalition's policy on tuition fees. "I'm not Prime Minister and you can't do everything you want," the deputy PM says. When pressed, he responds: "Nine and a half."

    22:36: Funeral train
    Sir Winston Churchill funeral train arrives at Oxford

    Phil Peel was a schoolboy when Sir Winston Churchill's funeral train passed through Oxford. Phil tells us: "I was at school in Oxford, so cycled to the station. People were standing on the tracks as the train with Winston Churchill's coffin passed. It was very hushed, but I think the Oxford church bells were ringing."

    22:24: Clegg on Last Leg

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is this week's guest on Channel 4 comedy The Last Leg tonight. Asked how other politicians view his decision to appear on the show, he answered: "Brave, which usually means foolish."

    Nick Clegg
    22:20: Simon Bull

    emails: I was nine when the great man died. Our family business, T H Bull & Sons Ltd, was one of the London wholesale newsagents, and so we had contacts in Fleet Street. My father took me and my younger brother to the Daily Express building in Fleet Street, and we watched the funeral procession from the first floor windows.

    I remember how quiet the crowds were, absolutely silent as the gun carriage went by; just the crunch on the sand as the wheels passed along the road. The occasional order from an officer, and the slow march of the sailors is also a vivid memory. It also stuck in my mind seeing people remove their hats as the carriage moved past them.

    22:08: Honours shake-up? Scottish Daily Mail

    The Scottish Daily Mail says the Prince of Wales wants to shake-up the honours system because awards are going to the "wrong people for the wrong reasons".

    Scottish Daily Mail
    22:03: James Shelley

    emails: I was not born till 1972, but my trumpet teacher talked about how he played the last post at his funeral. He was recalled from duties in Germany with the army days before his death was announced to rehearse.

    22:02: Bernadette Willis

    emails: My memory was as a seven year old, watching the funeral with my family on black and white television in rural South Australia. My parents wanted us to watch it - a State funeral of a great man, notwithstanding the Gallipoli campaign. I remembered being completely overawed by the carriages and the nodding cranes - although I did not understand the significance of the occasion or the man until later in life. Very moving to be working in the City of London on this day so many years later.

    @BBCNews 21:57: Financial Times

    tweets: Saturday's FT: "Qatar lands 10% IAG stake as Gulf appetite for global assets sharpens"

    FT weekend front page
    @suttonnick 21:55: Nick Sutton

    tweets: Saturday's Telegraph front page: Thousands needlessly filling in tax forms #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

    Daily Telegraph front page
    @BBCNews 21:44: 'Miracle' mother

    tweets: Saturday's Daily Mirror: "Mother of all miracles" (via @suttonnick) #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

    Daily Mirror front page
    21:32: Marilyn Gleason

    emails: I can vividly remember Winston Churchill's funeral as it was televised live across the nation here in the United States. My father was in the Army Air Force during World War II, and we had great respect and admiration for Churchill's leadership of his country during that war. We lived in a tiny town in rural Iowa then and everyone watched this event with great thankfulness for his life and sadness at his passing. As his mother was American, we felt a special bond with him in that respect as well.

    I think this country would equate his funeral and the intense feelings of sadness it generated across our country to that of FDR's and Eisenhower's whose passing our country deeply mourned for thirty days. With sincere affection to the British people as they remember and celebrate the life of this extraordinary man.

    21:27: Interrogations The Independent

    Early editions of the Saturday papers are arriving. The Independent reports claims from an American official that terror suspects held by the CIA were interrogated on the British territory of Diego Garcia "despite the repeated denials of London and Washington".

    The Independent
    21:12: Tony Potter

    emails: I was born in may 58 so was six years and nine months. I remember clearly watching the funeral live on black and white TV with my father and he explaining about Churchill. I still have a Churchill crown coin issued afterwards. I must have been inspired as later on I joined the army for 36 years!!

    21:05: All-party groups BBC Parliament

    As the parties clash over the NHS and the election battle lines are drawn, here's a reminder that MPs on different sides can find common ground and work together - sometimes. BBC Parliament's Alasdair Rendall reports for the Week in Parliament on the work of all-party parliamentary groups. You can watch the Week in Parliament in full on BBC Parliament at 23:00 GMT tonight.

    Houses of Parliament
    21:00: Eva Boutellier-Haller

    emails: My father was the UK correspondent for Swiss-German TV and radio for many years and had the honour of doing the commentary (the Swiss David Dimbleby!) for Sir Winston Churchill's funeral. I was then 22 and working in the French speaking part so had to watch the funeral with French commentary. I remember my father saying it was the most memorable and moving broadcast he had ever done, and I remember wishing I was witnessing this at home. He had commentated the crowning of Queen Elizabeth and later several royal weddings, but Churchill's funeral was unforgettable.

    It was so evocative to watch the BBC's coverage of the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death....thank you.

    20:44: Carmel Loughman

    emails: As a young child I was crossing the Atlantic to the USA on a Cunard line ship from Southampton when we learned of Churchill's death. To my young mind it was striking that all the fun and gaiety of our journey abruptly ended. The public rooms were all draped in black bunting and a sombre mood took over. Religious services were held and the adults all seemed subdued. I had no real idea who Churchill was but instinctively knew he must have been an important man to cause all happiness to end on our ship.

    20:41: NHS 'fragile' BBC Radio 4

    Labour MP Margaret Hodge disagrees with Lord Deben on Any Questions on BBC Radio 4, claiming: "The service that is most fragile at the moment is the NHS."

    20:40: 'Stupid' argument BBC Radio 4

    Lord Deben - the former Conservative minister John Gummer - claims that in every election campaign he has ever fought, Labour has tried to suggest the Conservatives want to "shut down" the NHS. "It's never happened. No sane party would ever suggest it," he tells Any Questions on BBC Radio 4, calling the argument "stupid".

    John Gummer John Gummer is a former Conservative cabinet minister
    20:34: 'Genuine hero' BBC Radio 4

    Boss of energy company INEOS Tom Crotty tells the Any Questions audience that Churchill's legacy is "pride", while the Conservative Lord Deben says: "I find him a genuine hero." He adds: "One of the awful things about our society is we don't have heroes, we have celebrities. I don't want celebrities. I want heroes."

    20:32: Human rights BBC Radio 4

    Julian Huppert says he had "a lot of relatives" who died as a result of Nazi Germany. Speaking on Any Questions on BBC Radio 4, the Lib Dem MP cited the European Convention on Human Rights as part of Winston Churchill's legacy. He argued that, in the UK, the Convention had been "twisted" into the idea that it was something that "Europe is imposing on us". He insisted: "These are British values."

    20:21: Churchill's legacy
    Margaret Hodge

    Speaking on Any Questions, Labour MP Margaret Hodge says that, for her, Winston Churchill's legacy was "freedom". In a week that also saw the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, she added: "I'm Jewish myself and I had an uncle who was slaughtered in Auschwitz." She says she saw "a suitcase with his name on" during a visit to the former Nazi death camp.

    20:17: Any Questions BBC Radio 4

    All panellists on Radio Four's Any Questions programme say ransoms should not be paid to kidnappers.

    20:14: Rosalind Prowse

    emails: I was a junior member of the BBC News workforce stationed in Broadcasting House when Winston Churchill died. On Monday we went into Regent Street and found all the big shops and stripped their windows out and were full of purple and pictures of Churchill. They must have worked through Sunday because in those days there were no shops open.

    On the Friday my flatmate and I queued over Westminster Bridge in the sleet and the cold to get to the lying in state and on the Saturday we got up and walked to Ludgate Hill to watch it all. There was no public transport. The crowds were enormous, quiet, patient and when the coffin went by all these gentlemen took off the hats, many crying. Two things I remember more than anything was the quiet, the muffled sounds of horses and music. London had a special atmosphere.

    20:13: Hilly Janes

    tweets: Stood as a child on a Thames bridge, to see #Churchill's coffin come up river. Cold day, huge silent crowds, cranes dipping, bells tolling

    20:09: Southbank Centre's pre-election festival

    A new festival looking at politics and history opens at the Southbank Centre in London tonight. Changing Britain examines the last 70 years of British history, focusing on society, culture and politics, in the lead-up to the general election on 7 May. Historian David Kynaston, artists Jane and Louise Wilson and novelist Nick Hornby are among the contributors, while audiences are encouraged to contribute themselves to "vigorous debates".

    @girlboatspotter 20:06: Boat spotted

    tweeted this photo of the Havengore sailing under Tower Bridge.

    The Havengore sailing under Tower Bridge
    20:01: Meg Johnson

    emails: I was 13, living in Bristol. It was a Saturday so I was at my riding school. Our riding school mistress had made sure that all the pupils (about 15 of us) listened to the whole funeral in the tack room. Although we were too young to remember his war years, we had a great reverence for him and listened quietly to the whole event, knowing that it was a very sombre day for the country. We did not go riding that day as it was a day of mourning for everyone.

    @krishgm Khrishnan Guru-Murthy

    tweets: Vince Cable seems to be suggesting to @cathynewman he's potentially up for a deal with Labour even if they have fewer seats than Tories.

    19:48: Any Questions?

    Coming up on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT, Jonathan Dimbleby presents political debate and discussion from Dereham Memorial Hall in Dereham, Norfolk. On the panel are Labour MP Margaret Hodge, Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, Conservative peer Lord Deben and Tom Crotty, the director of the energy firm INEOS.

    @RebeccaKeating 19:47: Mail to Westminster Rebecca Keating BBC News

    tweets: A staggering 2,234,763 items of mail were sent to the Palace of Westminster in 2014 - not including parcels, courier items or internal mail

    19:31: Claire Suart

    emails: I was a 12 year old living in Uganda when Churchill died. My father was a history teacher with the Colonial Service in a secondary school. Having been in the RAF during the war, he was a big fan of Churchill's so for his funeral he sourced a radio from somewhere and then invited all the neighbours in to listen to it. I had only ever heard or seen radios in England - we didn't have one in Uganda. We relied on the local newspaper for local news and The Manchester Guardian sent out weekly from England for international news. I assume they heard about Churchill's death from colleagues - there was always someone who found out these things and spread the word. I clearly remember the sitting room being full of chairs so that everyone could listen to the proceedings. I remember imagining the contrast between the cold dark wet winter's day in London compared to the hot bright day with us.

    19:26: Peter Watts

    emails: I was 18 years of age at the time of Churchill's state funeral. I lived in Kingston, but worked at The British & French Bank in the City. In those days we worked half a day on Saturday. The bank was on the corner of King William Street and Arthur Street. To get from Bank underground station to my office I was given a memorandum signed by my manager which I had to show to a policeman if I wanted to cross any road. A colleague brought a cine camera to work to film the funeral as it crossed the junction where Cannon Street joins Eastcheap. His camera was taken apart by the police. It reminds me that terrorism was a concern 50 years ago. A director of the bank invited all the staff into his office, which overlooked the Cannon Street/Cheapside junction, and I have a firm memory of watching the cortege pass from my second floor vantage point.

    19:06: Peter Seddon

    emails: In the summer of 1952 my Father was attending a medical conference in London. Since we lived in Wigan, he used it as an excuse to take his family for a holiday, and to see the sights, ( I was about eight). I remember us walking up Downing Street, and standing outside Number 10, something you sadly haven't been able to do for many years. But my most cherished memory is when we, (my dad, mum, my four year old brother and me) were walking on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament, about to cross the exit from Parliament's car park. A policeman politely motioned for us to stand still, and a large black limousine drove out and stopped right in front of us, as it waited for a gap in the traffic.

    My dad told me to "wave Pete", and I did , and the gentleman in the back of the limousine wearing a black overcoat, Homburg, and smoking a large cigar waved back. Then the car moved off. The thing that makes it special is, apart from the policeman, we were completely alone on that pavement, there was nobody else around. He waved to me.

    18:56: SDLP leader predicts government role BBC News Northern Ireland

    The leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has predicted his party will play a role in a future UK government after the general election. Alasdair McDonnell said the SDLP could help to form a coalition government in the event of a hung parliament in May. Dr McDonnell said his party would maximise its influence to get a better deal for Northern Ireland and work to reverse what he called the "savagery" of some recent cuts.

    18:42: Bob Evans

    emails: I can remember at the age of 13 standing with my mother on a very crowded platform at Twickenham Station to watch the steam locomotive-hauled funeral train pass through on its way to Oxfordshire. I remember seeing the flag-draped coffin on a trestle alone in a gleaming parcel wagon especially restored for this journey. Local shops removed their normal window dressings - photos of Sir Winston were displayed instead.

    18:24: Gerald Clipp

    emails: I was 14 years old in January 1965. I lived in Fulham and was attending Elliott Comprehensive in Putney. One night, straight after school I went to Westminster to pay my respects to Sir Winston Churchill. The queue went along the Embankment over Lambeth Bridge and back along the opposite embankment. It took a long time to reach the chapel. There was a military guard on each of the four corners. I remember each one was standing perfectly still the whole time. I don't think you were allowed to stop moving once inside.

    18:18: Former Welsh Secretary to stand down

    More details on the decision of the former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy to stand down as a Labour MP at the general election. He has been in parliament for 28 years.

    18:09: Richard

    emails: As a 10 year old I was glued to the television, fascinated by it all. 10 years later when I was posted to Hong Kong in the Grenadier Guards I found out that my Platoon Sergeant (BEM) was one of the coffin bearers.

    17:59: Migrant voters BBC News UK

    Migrant voters could have a "decisive" impact in key marginal seats at the general election, a report suggests.

    17:54: Janet Hoffritz

    emails: I remember watching the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill very vividly. I lived in Washington, DC and I had to go out and buy my first television set so that I could watch his funeral. And getting up at about 5:00 am so as not to miss it. It will be something that I will never forget. Sir Winston was one of the greatest prime ministers the UK has had.

    17:43: Paul Murphy to stand down

    Former Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is to stand down as an MP ahead of May's general election. The 66-year-old has been MP for Torfaen since 1987. His majority at the 2010 election was 9,306. He was Secretary of State for Wales twice, from 1999 to 2002 and again in 2008-09. First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Paul Murphy is one of the great Welsh political figures. He played a major role in securing peace in Northern Ireland and our current and future generations across the UK owe him a debt of gratitude for that alone."

    17:38: Donald Ian Atkinson

    emails: We watched the funeral on TV at home in Letchworth, we had the day off school. My father (Donald Atkinson), a Royal Marine Commando during the war, cried. My mother said she had never see him cry before. I never saw him cry again. I don't believe my father, or many of his generation, respected anyone more than Winston Churchill.

    17:29: Labour and the Greens Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

    Labour MPs are calling for change as the threat from the Green Party grows.

    The Greens are looking to peel off voters from Labour - but what should Ed Miliband's response be?

    17:27: 'Plebgate' costs

    The former Conservative chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, has been ordered to pay two sets of legal costs, arising from his unsuccessful libel action over the so-called Plebgate affair. In November, a judge ruled he had probably used the word "pleb" during an argument with a policeman at the Downing Street gates. Today, a High Court judge said he should pay the legal bills for News Group Newspapers, which owns The Sun, and the policeman at the centre of the case, Toby Rowland.

    17:19: David Robinson

    emails: I remember his Lying in State in the Palace of Westminster. I went with my parents. I was 17. We started lining up on the other side of the river, along by Lambeth Palace at about 8.30 pm, not very far from where I'd been born in 1947. It was a bitter, cold, night, and the crowd, with people still forming behind us, made the long slow trek to the bridge and then over the river. For so many people in one place, there was a remarkable quiet; of course, some people spoke, but in hushed voices, their words making shapes in the icy air. For my parents, it was something that they "must do". They were both Geordies, but had spent much of the war years in London as my father was there on war work. They saw their attendance as an obligation, a duty to witness the final journey of a man who, in their hour of need and fear, had revealed to them the Heroic stature that was their legacy as English men and women. He had found the words that resonated in English hearts and made them brave. That feeling - palpable - was there that night.

    When we finally entered from the dark into the lit space in the Palace where the coffin lay, and I saw the four military persons at the corners, and the flag draped over the coffin, it was about three am. We followed the circle around the coffin, heads bowed with, not only for myself, but, I sensed, for everyone else who was there, a realisation that what we were doing was an act of a Nation in mourning, not just one small family.

    17:13: Labour and the NHS Chris Cook BBC Newsnight policy editor

    BBC Newsnight's Policy Editor Chris Cook looks at the issues around Labour's stance on the NHS.

    16:48: Kaz Majcher

    I was five years old when the great man died but I remember the day as if it was only yesterday. Last Sunday I took my two teenage children to his resting place in Bladon, as a mark of respect, it was a very moving experience for all of us. My father came to England after the battle of Monte Casino fighting with the free Polish Army, he made England his home until he died in 1988... and told me that no one should underestimate what Churchill did for the greater freedom of Europe he was a very inspirational man.

    16:38: Bookie cuts SNP odds

    William Hill says it has cut the odds of the SNP ending up as part of a coalition government following the general election from 13/2 to 9/2, making that the second favourite for a government to be formed, behind a repeat of the coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats at 4/1.

    "All of a sudden the SNP has become extraordinarily pivotal in political pundits' thoughts of what might happen in the event of another hung Parliament - which is now a heavily-backed 3/10 chance," spokesman Graham Sharpe said. "It seems far-fetched to see the SNP, who won just six seats at the last general election, quite possibly ending up as the third largest party in Parliament, but opinion polls are suggesting they have every chance of achieving that." William Hill has made SNP odds-on to win more seats at the general election than the Lib Dems.

    16:29: Greens move to bigger venue

    The Green Party says it has switched to a bigger venue for their pre-election conference in March, after gaining new members. The party will hold its spring conference at the ACC in Liverpool, which has a 1,350 capacity, rather than St George's Hall, which can only fit around 800. Leader Natalie Bennett also says they are aiming to stand in 100% of seats rather than the 75% they were previously targeting.

    Natalie Bennett
    16:18: Paul Jenkins

    At the time of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral on the 30th January 1965, I was a pupil at Churchill's old prep school, Brunswick in Sussex. I have a clear memory of the entire school (100 boys) sitting cross-legged in complete silence on the floor of the Main Hall watching the ceremony live from start to finish on television.

    Every boy there was entirely familiar with the Churchill legend and his monumental achievements; in fact the great man had, only a few months prior to his death, made a significant contribution to the school at a time when its finances were perilously placed. I'd like to think that his gift was in recognition of the happy times he spent at Brunswick (when it was situated in Brunswick Square, Hove).

    16:01: Malcolm King, Surrey

    emails: I remember watching the funeral on television and to this day it is one of the most moving occasions I have seen. I have never seen such perfection in the military precision from the marching to ceremonial coordination. Seeing Jeremy Paxman's review was very emotional.

    15:47: SNP manifesto appeal

    The SNP is inviting party members to submit ideas for its general election manifesto.

    The party saw its membership increase from around 25,000 to more that 93,000 following the Scottish independence referendum last September.

    Deputy leader Stewart Hosie said: "The SNP are extremely keen to reach out to our new members, who reflect all of the many diverse communities of Scotland, and benefit from their experience.

    "Today we are offering all of our members the opportunity to take part in shaping our manifesto - to put forward their ideas for consideration."

    15:41: Political pacts

    UKIP says the party is "not promising pacts with anyone". A statement says: "For us politics is about getting something done, not about stitching up deals to get jobs for the boys. We think about you - not us.

    "For that reason we will drive for a confidence and supply agreement to ensure the big issues that matter to the public are on the table and that voters have a powerful voice. It looks increasingly likely that we will have a hung parliament after May, so now is the time for voters to back the party that really represents them and will make sure that their concerns are addressed and not brushed under the carpet for another 5 years by a cosy cartel of establishment parties."

    15:39: Frances Bingham

    emails: This must be one of my earliest memories. My parents lived in Morpeth Terrace, beside Westminster Cathedral, so the funeral procession passed quite close and we walked from home to join the people watching. I have a very vivid visual memory of seeing the gun carriage pass, which is the only image I recall, but I didn't understand what it was, or that there was a coffin under the union jack. I was lifted up to see it pass slowly by, and sensed the solemn atmosphere in the crowd. The importance of the occasion must also have been explained to me; my grandfather Cedric Worsdell was one of Churchill's election agents in the 1950s and admired him very much.

    15:27: 'Plebgate' BBC News UK

    Former minister Andrew Mitchell refused an offer to settle his "Plebgate" libel case two months before he lost, court papers seen by the BBC show.

    15:22: John Davies, Marietta Georgia

    emails: I remember it well, I was apprenticed at a printer in London, one of my first jobs there was to work on a magazine supplement for the funeral. My job was to put the pictures and type together to make the cylinders to print the magazine.

    15:15: Boris Johnson: 'No regrets'

    Asked whether he regretted his comments in The Sun about people who join religious extremist groups such as Islamic State, the London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "Not remotely; I don't think anybody could contest a word I said." The politician described such people as "porn-driven losers".

    15:09: Steve Gove-Humphries, Birmingham

    emails: I was just 11 years old at the time of the funeral. We were told about Churchill by the Head Master and were all very excited at the prospect of a day off school for the funeral. We watched the funeral on a TV in the library I recall. The huge TV was wheeled in & we sat in almost complete silence as the service went on.

    It has been fascinating to hear the BBC back stories on the ceremony. The evocation of the past and our history is something that still I find moving. We will not see its like again I think.

    15:05: Kay-Lesley Hallam Black, Belper

    emails: I am 68 and have been glued to my TV since 9am this morning, watching black & white film of Churchill's State funeral as I watched 50 years ago with my beloved father sitting quietly weeping as he acknowledged this great but flawed man as his saviour and the Lion who gave the roar & inspired the nation in the war years!

    On the 30th of January 1965 he watched and wept in gratitude at the passing not just of this great Briton and inspirational leader of the nation. He thanked God for Churchill's 90 years and at that time his 50 - and I too have kept faith with that again today thanks to your extensive and comprehensive coverage! Only we British can put on a ceremony with such superlative solemnity and dignity!

    @TweetUKElection 14:56: UK Elections

    tweets: This shows the number of votes cast for each party at By-Elections from 2005-2010.

    14:41: Adrian Chojnacki

    @ChojnackiAdrian tweets: Now Churchill and Bevan. That was a Great War coalition. Pity the current coalition is but a mere shadow of that example #Churchill2015

    14:37: Childhood memory
    Sir Winston Churchill funeral barge

    Martyn Best tells us: "I was there as a nine year old with a camera given to me by my father who was a professional photographer. A family friend was an architect working for Taylor Woodrow who were constructing a new building next to the Tower of London. We stood on an open floor of the incomplete structure and I took the attached picture. I had also attended the lying-in-state and remember having to get up at about 5am to get the train up to London from Hertfordshire, walking past the coffin in Westminster Hall and then getting back home in time for school. It is all a very clear childhood memory."

    14:30: 'Gave the roar to the British lion' BBC News Channel

    Historian Warren Dockter says Churchill's state funeral was a "major and global event" and it is important to commemorate it today. He singles out the wartime leader's "remarkable will". "It's famously said he gave the roar to the British lion and that's definitely true," he says.

    14:23: Georgette McCready

    @GeorgeTMcCready tweets: @FleurHitchcock #Churchill funeral is my first memory of watching television. Black, white and grainy. My parents stood - out of respect?

    14:21: Funeral flotilla recreated

    Missed the funeral flotilla recreated for the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's state funeral? Watch the Havengore make the trip from the Tower of London to the Palace of Westminster where a special service took place.

    The Havengore - which carried Winston Churchill's coffin, returns to the the Thames
    14:16: John Drake

    emails: I was living in Middleburg in Holland on the day of Churchill's funeral. It seemed to me on that day that Holland came to a standstill to honour the great man.

    14:10: Robin Pyman

    emails: I was at school in Oxford. A large number of us went down to the railway line that ran alongside the Oxford canal at the bottom of our playing fields and stood alongside the track, bowing our heads as the great man's train passed by, taking him to his final resting place. We were all in awe. He was our hero.

    13:56: Ina Holmen

    emails: My entire elementary school in Canada was brought into the gymnasium where the funeral procession was viewed on an elevated television placed near the stage. I remember it being similar to Remembrance Day with speeches, flags, and dignitaries from veterans groups present.

    Tweet @BBC_HaveYourSay 13:53: Jan Shoesmith

    @4TBookworm tweets: Amazing to think Churchill's funeral was 50 yrs ago today. it's the first news item I ever remember I was 5 & had measles #Churchill

    13:44: Westminster Abbey

    Westminster Abbey will host a ceremony from 18:00 GMT, with flowers laid at the green marble stone placed there in memorial to Churchill.

    13:43: Havengore on the move

    The Havengore is back on the move again.

    Email 13:35: Send us your comments

    Rosemary Pettit emails: On the day of his funeral I was a know-it-all undergraduate with arrogant ideas, determined not to pay homage to an imperialistic war leader. So I ignored the whole thing but couldn't resist turning on the radio for the occasion. Sharing the top floor of a flat high in Hampstead I was quite unprepared for the fly-past which, like a thunder-clap, roared straight over my head. Suddenly, the superciliousness evaporated, the tension fell away and I felt united with all the good people who had lived and breathed during the war, and were even now gathered by St Pauls and the Thames, round their televisions and all over the world. Thank you RAF for bringing me to my senses.

    13:24: Havengore comes to rest
    The Havengore outside the Houses of Parliament

    The Havengore comes to rest near the Houses of Parliament, where Churchill served as an MP for 60 years, and a brief service is now being held on board.

    13:15: John Phillips

    emails: As I watch the re-run of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral I can remember the events quite clearly... Winston Churchill was my 'hero'. My mother, who came from Forest Gate, had endured the Blitz and had always maintained huge respect for "Mr Churchill", had told me countless stories of the war and how he had inspired the nation to victory.... To our disappointment when we got to London, the queues were enormous. However that fact in itself made me realise just how much loved Churchill was and we comforted ourselves with the thought that this had made the enterprise worthwhile.

    We got back around 2 am and the next day, morning school was cancelled so that we could all watch the funeral of the 'Greatest Briton' as Mo Mowlam later called him.

    13:11: "Sombre and quiet"
    Barry Barnes recalling Churchill's funeral

    Barry Barnes, who witnessed the flotilla in person in 1965 and captured some of the day's images on film, recalls that the mood on the day matched the weather. "It was fairly sombre and very quiet", he tells the BBC.

    13:07: Watching from the Millennium Bridge
    The Havengore passes under the Millennium Bridge in London

    The crowds may not be of quite the same size as in 1965 but there are new vantage points that weren't available 50 years ago.

    13:04: Watching the funeral

    Brian Giles emails: Churchill's funeral will always be remembered by me, as on the Thursday before the funeral we had bought our first television from Radio Rentals, it was black and white and I watched the funeral on it with my parents.

    13:03: Churchill's hearse

    Christopher Meeking emails: My grandfather, Charles Meeking, drove the hearse that took Winston Churchill's casket from the Festival Hall Pier to Waterloo Station as he was the senior driver for Kenyon's Funeral Services in London. My father had a picture from a broadsheet newspaper of the hearse and my grandfather clearly visible through the windscreen - it may well still be in the loft at my mother's house.

    13:00: Havengore from above
    Havengore passing underneath Blackfriars Bridge

    An aerial shot of the Havengore passing under Blackfriars Bridge.

    12:56: John Emmerson

    emails: My Dad took me to see the funeral procession, I was 10 years old and we travelled from Warrington down to London on a coach. I fell asleep on the way back and woke up in Wigan!

    12:54: Michael Smith, Ottawa

    emails: As a 17 year old I had gone to the abbey to pay my respects to Churchill the night prior to the funeral. After a five hour or longer slow walk with what seemed like thousands of other mourners that crossed the Thames twice I finally passed the great man lying in state. To this day I respect Winston Churchill as the greatest Englishman ever and we were lucky to have had him.

    12:54: The Havengore passes HMS Belfast

    The Havengore passes HMS Belfast, a major military landmark on the Thames. Tourists on board the famous warship wave as the smaller vessel passes by, the BBC's Duncan Kennedy says.

    12:51: Paul Sayles, Misawa, Japan

    emails: I was living in Dunoon, Scotland at the time and watched the entire event on TV. I think all of my family was moved by the rendering of honours by the crane operators as Sir Winston passed the docks on his way home. I still remember the feeling 50 years on as if it was that day.

    12:49: On its way

    The Havengore makes its way down the Thames, with those on board including pipers and volunteers reprising the role of pallbearers.

    12:45: Tower Bridge opens
    Tower Bridge

    Tower Bridge is opening its gate as a mark of respect as the Havengore makes its way down the Thames.


    emails: I was seven at the time of the funeral, and we had not long had a television. It was switched on for the early part of the ceremony, but, unfortunately, we were in the middle of moving from Cheshire to Shropshire, and had to go house-hunting on that day, it being a Saturday. Consequently, much as I wanted to stay at home and watch the funeral, I couldn't. I've regretted this for fifty years - I am looking forward to seeing the recording later!

    12:43: 'Lovingly restored' BBC News Channel

    The BBC's Ben Brown says the Havengore has been "loving restored" by its current owner from a stage when "grass had been growing through the deck" a few years ago.

    12:42: 'Fitting tribute' BBC News Channel
    The Havengore recreating Winston Churchill's funeral cortege

    The BBC's Duncan Kennedy, on board a boat on the Thames, says it was a "fitting tribute" that Churchill's coffin was placed on the front of the Havengore boat and carried down the river because of his role as naval secretary.

    12:39: Labour NHS debate Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Asked about the internal debate within Labour about health policy and the role of the private sector, shadow minister Steve Reed tells the BBC that the opposition backs "what works". Pressed on this, he says the NHS must be reformed to give more control to the people who use it rather than "privatised".

    12:29: 'Proud day' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Asked if it is a "sad day" for his family, Rupert Soames says it quite the contrary. "It is a proud day. It is a triumph he is still remembered," he tells the Daily Politics. "What could be better."

    12:24: 'In gratitude'
    Message on wreath reading: 'From the nation of today, and the youth of tomorrow - in gratitude'

    Relatives and politicians left messages on wreaths during the service at the Houses of Parliament earlier.

    12:22: Peter

    emails: I remember, age 11, seeing his funeral on TV. My mum had turned it on. Even then, I knew he was special, but the scale of his funeral made that clear. Now, having read his books, and others, I realise he was a complex and fallible man, who became an extraordinary leader when put under extreme pressure.



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