Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Woman who had to pay out after gas meter was alleged tampered with clears first stage in court

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A single mother cleared the first stage today in a High Court challenge to being forced to pay out after her gas meter was allegedly tampered with.

Housing Executive tenant Jamie Lee McLean was granted leave to seek a judicial review of decisions which led to £500 being deducted from her top-up payments.

Ruling that an arguable case has been established, Mr Justice Treacy said he wanted to know the lawfulness of the system.

Ms McLean categorically denies any responsibility for damage caused to the Phoenix Gas meter at her home in Newtownards, Co Down.

She stated that it was tampered with while she was on holiday in February 2011.

Following examination of the meter she was charged towards the costs every time she paid to have more gas.

Ms McLean, who is on benefits, contacted the Housing Executive but was told the issue was between her and the supplier.

Her lawyers argued that the housing authority should take responsibility because she is their client.

The court heard it was unfair to take money from her without any proof that she was involved in what happened to the meter.

But the Housing Executive's legal representatives insisted the issue was with the supplier.

Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy held that the case has enough merit to proceed to a full hearing in October.

He added: "This metering system that's in place, I will be interested to know how that operates and what the lawful basis is for deducting money at source from people where there is a dispute if they are responsible for the damage."

Counsel for Ms McLean also confirmed her intention to seek to have Phoenix Gas added to the case being brought against the Housing Executive.

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