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'Our whole world was falling apart' - TfL refused to cancel fine after woman suffered miscarriage

'Our whole world was falling apart' - TfL refused to cancel fine after woman suffered miscarriage

A grieving woman has been left angry and upset after TfL refused to cancel a congestion-charge fine following her miscarriage.

Cairis Grant-Hickey, 37, a Biologist from Lewisham suffered a silent miscarriage at the end of July at just 10 weeks.

A silent miscarriage is when the pregnancy sac develops in the womb but the sac is empty or does not progress.

Cairis told News Shopper: "I was working at the Garden Museum last month but didn't know that the congestion zone covered where we were going."

By the time Cairis got home that day she was feeling extremely exhausted, as pregnancy often is (and had no symptoms of the disaster happening inside her), and so had decided to pay the next day.

Cairis said: "We went for a second private scan the following day because at 7 weeks the doctor had said the baby was a little on the small side.

Cairis had to go into hospital to have an operation to have the baby removed and when she returned home there was a fine from TfL sitting on the doormat.

"I saw the letter and immediately wrote back with a copy of my discharge notes from the hospital, telling them why I hadn't paid the charge, then I thought nothing more of it, our whole world was falling apart."

However, on Saturday (August 24) Cairis couldn't believe the letter she received back from TfL.

A section from the letter read: "Whilst TfL recognises that this must have been a distressing time for you, there is a responsibility for the appropriate charge to have been paid for the use of vehicles on a road within the congestion charge zone.

"We have considered fully the issues raised and have decided that on this occasion we are unable to exercise discretion and the PCN will not be cancelled, as the charge could have been purchased in advance."

Cairis said: "It was three weeks after my surgery (ERPC) so I had just had to take another pregnancy test to prove it was all removed, and I was so angry with this unfeeling person who had written that letter - I just let it out on twitter."

Her tweets went viral with hundreds of women rallying to give support.

Later that day the fine was cancelled.

Cairis said: "People don't understand that this is a hidden death, I am still having to grieve, it was my baby.

"I don't think women should hide that they are pregnant until 12-weeks, it's a celebration and everyone should be allowed to be excited, the mother should be allowed this time in case something does then happen."

Cairis struggled to find any information online for women who have suffered a miscarriage, except a charity called Miscarriage Association, which details exactly what happens and who you can talk to.
The charity helps thousands of women every year - you can donate here.

Cairis is now trying to get the Miscarriage Association pregnancy and baby loss cards into the stores of major retailers.

"I think a lot of the time people don't contact you because they think they are going to say the wrong thing," she continued.

"Nothing you could say could actually make this better, but the only wrong thing you could say is nothing. To not even acknowledge that someone has been a parent for that time they were pregnant.

"So if people know it's a good thing to send these cards, or even to say the words on these cards - that would be a great improvement. This experience has even convinced my wife that something good could come out of this awful month we've had."

Helen Chapman, TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “We are extremely sorry for the highly insensitive letter that we sent Ms Hickey.

"It is clear that we handled this incorrectly. We have cancelled the penalty charge notice with immediate effect and we will deal with any similar future case with much greater sensitivity.”

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