Former Treloar’s pupil to sue school for negligence

Following new evidence recently heard at the Infected Blood Inquiry, Collins Solicitors has sent a letter before action to the Chair of the Governing Body of Treloar’s School in Hampshire on behalf of former Treloar’s pupil, Gary Webster. 

Mr Webster, now 56, claims that he suffered loss and damage as a result of negligence and breach of duty in the treatment he received at Treloar’s for haemophilia in the 1970s/80s, causing him to be infected by HIV and HCV and suffer life-long physical and mental health consequences.

In June 2021, the Infected Blood Inquiry heard deeply moving testimony from Gary, as well as shocking stories from a number of other haemophiliac former Treloar’s pupils who, as boarders, were treated with Factor 8 concentrate on a prophylactic basis without parental consent or advice on the risks involved.  Factor 8 was created from pooled plasma from up to 60,000 donors and imported from commercial entities overseas, yet crucially was not heat treated, which would have diminished the risk of contamination from then incurable viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis.

Des Collins, Senior Partner at Collins Solicitors, comments:

“It will be our client’s case that the treatment he received at Treloar’s was negligent and amounted to breach of duty of care. There was a total failure to inform and obtain consent on the risks associated with the blood products administered and a deplorable dereliction of duty in the handling of his subsequent diagnosis and after-care, despite Gary effectively being given a death sentence.” 

“Normally the time-limit for personal injury claims is three years after a child’s 18th birthday. However, it is our position that this should not apply here given the extraordinary evidence heard – for the first time after all these years – at the Infected Blood Inquiry in June. Relevant testimonies include those by Treloar’s former headmaster, house master, care staff and clinicians in the hospital attached to the school.”  

“We recognise Treloar’s School does great work with disabled pupils today and that some former pupils have fond memories of the time they spent at the school they regarded as home for much of their childhood. However, the fact remains that in the past the school as a collective body ruined the lives of a substantial cohort of haemophilia sufferers.  Sadly, many are no longer with us to be able to evidence the appalling negligence and abrogation of responsibility that took place.  No amount of money can ever make up for a life spent on borrowed time, enduring disease that was preventable and the associated social stigma, but recompense might go some way towards easing my client’s daily struggle and provide recognition of the injury he is so deservedly owed.”   

According to Litigation Protocol, Treloar’s, or its representatives, have 21 days to respond to Collins’ correspondence.

Collins Solicitors is also engaging with other former Treloar’s clients concerning a potential group action. The firm represents some 1500 victims and family members affected by the infected blood scandal currently being exposed during the Infected Blood Inquiry, of which over 40 are either former Treloar’s pupils or their dependants.

ENDS

Media enquiries


To speak to Des Collins or Gary Webster about this proposed legal action, please contact:

Bell Yard Communications            020 7936 2021                 BellYard@bell-yard.com

Melanie Riley: melanie@bell-yard.com / Mob: 07775 591244 

Louise Beeson: louise@bell-yard.com / Mob: 07768 956997 

Sarah Peters: sarah@bell-yard.com / Mob: 07977 997927 

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ONTIER LLP Secures Pre-Trial Victory for Bitcoin’s Creator in Defamation Action

In a significant victory for ONTIER client, Dr Craig Wright, the High Court has today handed down its long-awaited judgment on the Pre-Trial Review of Dr Wright’s ongoing defamation claim against podcaster Peter McCormack.

In Dr Craig Wright v Peter McCormack [2021] EWHC 2671 (QB), the Court was asked to determine a number of applications and cross-applications brought by the parties.  The Pre-Trial Review was ordered by the Court in February following various conflicting changes of position by the Defendant and in order to bring finality to the Defendant’s pleaded case and the evidence which should be admitted at trial.

The proceedings relate to 14 tweets and 1 YouTube video which the Defendant published between March and October 2019 accusing Dr Wright of fraudulently claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin. 

The Defendant had sought to defend the action on the basis of truth, public interest and abuse of process.  In October 2020, shortly after the parties exchanged their respective disclosure, the Defendant abandoned his defence of the proceedings.  He subsequently changed his mind and, in December 2020, sought to resurrect those parts of his Defence which challenged Dr Wright’s claim to have suffered serious harm.

The Defendant sought to re-amend his Amended Defence by introducing those parts of his pleaded (and abandoned) truth defence into play in his defence of serious harm.  He also sought permission to adduce and rely on a further witness statement and previously undisclosed documents – totaling in excess of 1,000 pages, which largely comprised of various third-party publications from 2015 and 2016 which purportedly made similar allegations about Dr Wright as the Defendant had made in the publications complained of.

Simon Cohen of ONTIER LLP said: 

“This judgment represents a comprehensive victory for Dr Wright. The long-running dispute has endured various attempts by the defendant to change course but finally, the Court has found McCormack’s draft re-amended defence amounted to a reverse innuendo plea, meaning he was trying to introduce pleadings into his serious harm defence that he had already withdrawn from his truth defence. 

“According to the Court, these specific passages were also an improper attempt at circumventing the rule in Dingle v Associated Newspapers, which does not allow for reliance on other publications to mitigate the offensive nature of your own publication.  We now look forward to trial where Dr Wright will prove the serious harm caused to him by McCormack’s publications.”

The Court also granted Dr Wright’s various applications to amend the Claim Form.

With the Pre-Trial Review concluded, the action can now proceed to trial.  Given the greatly reduced scope of the Defendant’s Defence – which is now limited to the sole issue of serious harm, the trial is now expected to last around three days.

The judgment clarifies the rule in Dingle and also provides helpful guidance as to the circumstances in which the Court may disapply the limitation period under section 4A of the Limitation Act 1980.

Dr Wright was represented by Paul FergusonSimon CohenSara Saleh and Joe Woodward of ONTIER LLP, Adam Wolanski QCGreg Callus and Lily Walker-Parr of 5RB Chambers.

ENDS

A copy of the full judgment is available on request

For further information, please contact:

Bell Yard Communications                        +44 (0)20 7936 2021   BellYard@bell-yard.com

Melanie Riley                                               +44 (0)7775 591244   melanie@bell-yard.com

We are recognised leaders in our field. We are proud to uphold the ethical and educational standards for the PR industry as members of the CIPR and PRCA.

Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley