Medomsley Detention Centre victims of abuse
Posted: 13th March 2019
A large scale investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse against detainees at Medomsley Detention Centre, County Durham has moved a step closer to closure today with the criminal conviction of another of the centre’s senior staff. The investigation, named ‘Operation Seabrook’ was launched in August 2013 by Durham County Police and is now the biggest investigation of its kind in the country.
Alistair Smith of Watson Woodhouse Solicitors has been at the forefront of a steering group bringing solicitors firms and claimants together to pursue Civil claims against the Ministry of Justice for physical and sexual assaults of several former prison officers.
Previous trials in 2003 and 2005 led to the conviction and imprisonment of Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson, former members of staff, who have since died. Now in three separate trials, there have been further convictions as a consequence of the brutal regime of Medomsley Detention Centre. Five of the former prison officers, Onslow, McGee, Greenwell, Bramley and Blakely now await sentencing.
How we can help
Here at Watson Woodhouse Solicitors, we have a leading Civil Litigation team who want to help victims of this abuse seek justice. We understand the issues and trauma that survivors have had to deal with and so we aim to ensure the process runs as stress free and smoothly as possible. We deal with all enquiries in a sensitive and confidential manner, with both male and female solicitors available to provide advice and assistance on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis.
Alistair Smith is one of our Civil Litigation Solicitors who is vastly experienced in both present and historic abuse cases and is leading the fight for justice for the Medomsley Detention Centre victims where he is heading a group of solicitors and attempting to negotiate settlements of all the claims with the Government.
Alistair has also had recent success with the Court of Appeal case of JT -v- First Tier Tribunal, where the ‘same roof rule’ was overturned and JT and many other victims of similar abuse, are now able to claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation.
Alistair Smith is a Senior Solicitor who specializes in historic abuse cases. He has an excellent track record of achieving results and because of his experience, is able to provide a personal service tailored to the needs of the individual clients case.
With Medomsely Detention Centre and other historic abuse cases, Watson Woodhouse Solicitors offer a no obligation, free initial consultation with flexible appointments to suit your needs. Watson Woodhouse Solicitors will not deduct any success fee from your award, to ensure successful claimants retain 100% of their damages awarded.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) 'Same Roof Rule' is to be abolished!
Posted: 12th March 2019
What is the ‘Same Roof Rule”?
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was introduced in 1964 to Compensate innocent Victims of Crimes of Violence. However, Paragraph 19 of the 2012 Scheme stated that:
“An award will not be made in respect of a criminal injury sustained before 1 October 1979 if, at the time of the incident giving rise to that injury, the applicant and the assailant were living together as members of the same family.”
This section essentially denied Compensation to victims of violent crimes which took place before 1979 if the attacker was someone they were living with at the time of the incident.
Our client’s Court of Appeal Success
Watson Woodhouse Limited challenged this rule on behalf of a lady from Teesside who originally approached the University of Teesside for help and assistance. After a successful challenge the Court of Appeal found that the ‘pre-1979’ rule unlawfully discriminated against our client. Subsequently, it was decided in Parliament that this unfair and discriminatory rule is to be taken out of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme completely.
What this means for Victims and survivors?
This now means that all victims of sexual and physical assault between 1964 and 1979 can apply for compensation.
If you were the victim of a crime by someone you were living with between 1964 and 1979 you may now be able to make a successful application to the CICA.
What should somebody do who thinks they are impacted by the “Same Roof Rule” change?
Speak to Watson Woodhouse Solicitors who have specialists in this field and an in-depth understanding of challenges that survivors can face having challenged this rule in the Court of Appeal.
You may be able to claim even if you have previously applied and been rejected.
Cases can be conducted under a “No Win No Fee” agreement.
New Harrogate Office
Posted: 31st January 2019
New Year new office! The Harrogate team are on the move to larger premises. The new centrally located offices in Victoria Avenue will accommodate the expanded team and help to offer the people of Harrogate an even broader range of specialist legal support. The new office will open on Monday 4th February 2019.
Government publishes landmark domestic abuse bill
Posted: 23rd January 2019
In the year ending March 2018, two million people told the Crime Survey for England and Wales that they had been a victim of domestic abuse.
Now domestic abuse victims will receive a wide range of new measures to protect them in what ministers are describing as landmark legislation, as new laws will create a legal definition of domestic abuse for the first time, including economic abuse and control.
The legislation will also see the banning of abusers from cross examining victims in family courts, something which has been long awaited by many people.
The new measures have been described as a “once in a generation” opportunity to combat the impact of abuse.
It is also thought that the draft bill going before MPs will create new powers to force perpetrators into behaviour changing rehabilitation programmes. As well as setting up a national “domestic abuse commissioner” who will be tasked with improving the response and support for victims, and make the victims automatically eligible for special protections when they are giving evidence in criminal trials.
Giving domestic abuse a definition will make it emphasise that it goes beyond violence, and includes victims who are affected psychologically and economically manipulated and controlled.
The legislation will also clarify the workings of “Clare’s Law” – a measure introduced four years ago to permit police to tell a member of the public of concerns over a partner’s previous violence.
Over the past year there has been increasing awareness of the punishing effects of cuts to legal aid for family cases, which has resulted in many alleged perpetrators of abuse acting as their own lawyers and, as a result, cross-examining victims during court proceedings. It is therefore no surprise that this bill has been eagerly anticipated.
As Head of Domestic Abuse at Watson Woodhouse Solicitors I work with numerous local domestic violence organisations and hear daily accounts of victims whose lives have been ripped apart because of the physical, emotional or financial abuse they have suffered by someone close to them. I feel the draft domestic abuse bill is a positive step in recognising the complex nature of these crimes which cause immense distress and as it stands can often amount to a continuation of abuse.
44 Middlesbrough Fans Launch Crowdfunding Appeal to Fund Legal Action Against Police
Posted: 25th October 2018
Watson Woodhouse Solicitors are representing 44 Middlesbrough football fans who have launched an appeal to raise £100,000 through the crowdfunding site ‘Crowdjustice’ to help them pursue a claim for false imprisonment and breach of their Human Rights under Article 5, 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
The claim comes from an incident on 17th March 2015, when Middlesbrough football fans travelled to a Derby away game. Prior to the game officers from various police forces were involved in issuing a group of approximately 50 football supporters with dispersal notices pursuant to Section 34 and Section 35 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”). This resulted in the fans losing their liberty for over four hours and, of course, missing the game.
Head of Civil Litigation, Sarah Ann Magson said “the police can rely on Public Interest Immunity (PII) which allows documents/evidence to be with-held even if this could impact of the fair administration of justice. We therefore have no way of establishing the full reasons that the police had for dispersing the group from the area. It is suspected that the grounds, if any, were insufficient. Furthermore, the notice issued to each member of the group required dispersal within 30-45 minutes – yet they were ‘detained’ for over 4 hours. The use of dispersal notices in this manner goes on all over the country and it will continue unless there is a review of the use of such powers by the police. There is a requirement to individually assess a person before a dispersal notice is issued – the police should not be allowed to use this power to blanket disperse large groups – without adequate justification as they are hiding behind PII”
While Watson Woodhouse Solicitors are providing their services on a ‘No Win – No Fee’ basis, should the claimants lose in their action, they will have to pay the legal costs for the police which may be in excess of £100,000. However, the fans have pledged that if they win their case, which they are confident of doing so the money pledged will go to a range of very worthy charities and/or to help fight other good causes.
If anyone would like to find out more or indeed pledge a donation to the football fans their crowdfunding page can be found here: www.crowdjustice.com/case/middlesbrough-supporters
We Are Hiring!
Posted: 15th August 2018
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- Gain BA(Hons) Management Practice from Teesside University without the need for a student loan.
- As a student of Teesside University, you will have FULL access to the student club and activities, library, study and sports facilities.
- The role is based at our head office in Middlesbrough.
- Start your career and degree this September.
For more information please email Richard Prust at firstname.lastname@example.org
Judgment following a challenge of CICA “Same roof rule” gives hope to victims of abuse who lived with their perpetrator prior to 1979.
Posted: 24th July 2018
The Court of Appeal has handed down Judgment, following a challenge of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme, which currently prevents survivors of domestic abuse who lived under ‘the same roof’ as the abuser prior to 1979 from accessing compensation. The decision comes after a lengthy legal battle on behalf of, JT, a survivor of abuse.
JT has fought tirelessly against the CICA’s refusal to award her compensation, losing her appeals to the First-Tier and Upper-Tier tribunals she progressed her case to the Court of Appeal. Today’s Judgement sets out a declaration to prevent the CICA from defending her application based on the ‘same roof rule’.
The Judgement does not change the scheme and will not immediately affect others, however, this is a huge milestone and a step forward for many survivors of abuse. The decision follows an interim report in April when the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended that the rule be scrapped. The Government need to change the scheme, and this needs to be done now, to stop the injustice and discrimination experienced by JT and many others like her.
Watson Woodhouse Solicitor Alistair Smith who has been working directly with the survivor said “ The basis of the ‘same roof rule’ was to stop people who were assaulting people living in the same house, from benefitting financially if compensation was awarded. It was never envisaged to take into account people like my client who were children at the time and had no choice as to where and with whom they lived”.
JT is delighted at the news and became extremely emotional when the decision was announced, she has stated “I cannot believe the outcome, I am in shock, after so many knock backs in my life I was expecting the worse. I am delighted at the decision, not just for myself but hopefully this will help others like me. I was only 4 years old when I was abused, I had nowhere to go at that age, I have lived with this all my life but finally feel like I have achieved something good out of such an awful situation”.
Kirsty Nelson joins Watson Woodhouse
Posted: 16th July 2018
Experienced Family Law Solicitor Kirsty Nelson has joined Watson Woodhouse and will be based at our Darlington office. Kirsty, who has over 20 years’ experience of working within law started her career working for a city firm within the field of litigation defence. In 2008 she began to specialise in child protection work and became a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel.
Kirsty has worked with parents and other family members in cases with Darlington Borough Council and surrounding authorities for the last 14 years. She has joined Watson Woodhouse to specialise in Child Protection work in Darlington and North Yorkshire.
Kirsty said “ As a committed advocate if you find yourself in difficulties with the local authority in respect of your children I am a local lawyer with local expertise who can help you and guide you through the legal process.”
Kirsty can be contacted through our Darlington Office, 3 Duke Street, Darlington, DL3 7RX or by telephoning 01325 462598.