News Archive: October 2018

New conveyancing team for our Stockton office!

Posted: 26th July 2019

Over the last year, Watson Woodhouse Solicitors have been working on expanding the company with the merger with Macks Solicitors. Now we are expanding even further and welcoming a new team of conveyancers to the Stockton office.

In August, a local Solicitors in Stockton will be closing its property department, and we are lucky to be gaining such a fantastic team of conveyancers from the firm.

One of the members joining is Jackie Howard, a conveyancing executive with over 30 years’ experience in conveyancing, specialising in residential freehold and leasehold transactions.

Before the move to Watson Woodhouse, Jackie worked in Stockton for 18 months and has years’ experience in many different firms.

Her experience includes: Sale and purchase transactions; Leasehold property transactions; New-build property and developments; Transfers of ownership; and Re-mortgaging.

Also joining Watson Woodhouse is Geoff Gardner, a conveyancer with 45 years’ experience, specialising in domestic conveyancing.

Before his move to Watson Woodhouse, Geoff has worked for a range of firms, and continually builds on his excellent client care and loyal client base.

Between Jackie and Geoff they have over 100 years’ experience in conveyancing and a wealth of knowledge, as well as a hard-working, dedicated team who are looking forward to the move.

As well as gaining two fantastic conveyancers, they are bringing a team of support staff with them. The team consists of:

  • Chloe Lawson, a paralegal with 8 years’ experience in conveyancing
  • Lorna Bailey, a secretary with 30 years’ experience in conveyancing
  • Kate Gibson, a secretary with 3 years’ experience in conveyancing

The team are fantastic and well respected, and have a high reputation for conveyancing and client care, and we are extremely excited for them to join our firm.

For more information about the new conveyancing department or to make an appointment with the team, get in touch with our Stockton office on 01642 266526 or visit us at 111 High Street, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1BB.

Same Roof Rule abolished under CICA

Posted: 17th June 2019

As of last Thursday 13th June, survivors of abuse under the same roof rule can now apply for compensation for the abuse they suffered.

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 denied compensation to victims of violent crimes (before 1979), if they lived with their attacker at the time. Alistair Smith explains here.

Alistair Smith, and our civil litigation team at Watson Woodhouse solicitors were at the forefront of the fight to have this rule overturned so that victims of abuse could claim compensation.

The CICA scheme was amended in 1979 to allow more people to be able to claim, but did not apply to offences committed before 1979. It was for this reason that the Court of Appeal in the case of our client JT v First Tier Tribunal and Others were asked to consider whether the rule in place before 1979 was compatible with the Human Rights Act (HRA), specifically Article 14 on the prohibition of discrimination.

Fighting on behalf of our client JT, a lady from Teesside, the team successfully challenged the rule after the Court of Appeal examined the CICA scheme and found it was incompatible with the HRA based on the fact that children living with their family were treated differently and less favourably by the CICA scheme without any good justification.

The rule was formally scrapped in February, with the opportunity to apply for compensation opening on the 13th June 2019.

Now victims of abuse can claim for sexual assault under the same roof rule as Parliament amended the bill. Survivors will now have two years to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) and all applicants will be given a named contact so you do not have to repeat your experience to multiple people.

If you were previously denied compensation then you can reapply under a new application, so please do not let that put you off coming forward and claiming.

As the solicitors who led this fight and were successful in overturning the rule, we have specialists in this field and an in-depth understanding of the challenges that survivors can face having challenged this rule in the Court of Appeal.

With vast experience, and an excellent track record of achieving results, we provide both a professional, and personal service, tailored to the needs of the individual clients’ case.

If you have been victim of abuse under the same roof rule then please get in touch with Watson Woodhouse today to see how we can help you. Our empathetic and hardworking solicitors will do all they can to ensure that you are given the compensation you deserve, and we operate on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Call us free on 01642 247656 or visit our website https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/abuse-claims-advice/same-roof-rule/ for more information.

Final Medomsley staff jailed

Posted: 30th May 2019

The last two former Medomsley staff have been jailed for 18 months and 30 months for their part of the abuse carried out at the detention centre for young boys.

Medomsley was a detention centre designed for young boys aged 17-21 who’s offences which wouldn’t routinely result in a custodial sentence, where they would usually spend around six to eight weeks.

The investigation into the abuse at Medomsley is thought to be the UK’s largest ever abuse probe, with over 1,800 separate complaints.

Victims of the abuse suffered daily beatings and violent regimes that left them terrified and feeling powerless to complain or fight back.

In this time, they experienced the horror of rape, violence and abuse, and in some cases, wounding with intent, including beating with a football boot because it had not been cleaned well enough.

The sentencing Judge, Howard Crowson told the court that the victims of Medomsley had been extremely brave in coming forward, saying: “Many had experienced brutality and violence at the hands of prison officers, but nobody wanted to hear about it. In those days, any complaint was likely to be regarded as further evidence that the trainee was anti-social, that he had not learned his lesson and was complaining about appropriate treatment. Many came from communities where they feared that to admit they had been cowed by threats and violence would leave them being viewed as weak in the eyes of the community in which they lived.”

This comes after four other wardens were sentenced on the 4th April after a series of trials at Teesside Crown Court for a total of 13 years and five months.

MP calls for Medomsley Abuse Public Inquiry

Posted: 15th May 2019

MP Laura Pidcock has asked Prime Minister, Theresa May, for an independent public inquiry into Medomsley Detention Centre for young inmates.

Laura Pidcock described rape and torture as “commonplace” at Medomsley, but many of the victims are not covered by the wider Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse due to their age, hence the suggestion for a separate investigation to secure justice for them.

Theresa May was surprised at Ms Pidcock’s remarks and has pledged to examine the issue, claiming she took the issue very seriously, saying:

“I will look at the issue – I was surprised at the statement made that the Medomsley Detention Centre cases weren’t able to be covered by that inquiry and I will certainly look at that issue. ”

The investigation into the abuse at Medomsley is thought to be the UK’s largest ever abuse probe, with over 1,800 separate complaints.

Victims of the abuse suffered daily beatings and violent regimes that left them terrified and feeling powerless to complain or fight back.

On 4th April, after a series of trials at Teesside Crown Court, former wardens Onslow, McGee, and Blakely were jailed for a total of 13 years and five months. Another two former wardens were convicted for their parts in the abuse of the teenagers that were held at the same centre.

Medomsley was a detention centre designed for young boys aged 17-21 who’s offences which wouldn’t routinely result in a custodial sentence, where they would usually spend around six to eight weeks.

In this time, they experienced the horror of rape, violence and abuse, and in some cases, wounding with intent, including beating with a football boot because it had not been cleaned well enough.

Civil Litigation solicitor, Alistair Smith, has been leading the fight for justice for the Medomsley Detention Centre Victims. He has been at the forefront of a steering group, bringing solicitors firms and claimants together to pursue Civil claims against the Ministry of Justice.

Alistair Smith is experienced in both present and historic abuse cases and is leading this fight for justice, by heading a group of solicitors and attempting to negotiate settlements of all the claims with the Government.

medomsley detention centre

Alistair also had success with the Court of Appeal case of JT -v- First Tier Tribunal in which the ‘same roof rule’ was overturned, allowing JT, and other victims of similar abuse, to now claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation as a result of the abuse they experienced.

He says “abuse, whether it be sexual or physical, is appalling whenever it happens and has awful consequences for its victims.”  We, at Watson Woodhouse Solicitors, cannot take back what has happened but we can try to help you for the future and recover any compensation you may be due.

We understand that this may be a difficult time for you, so we aim to ensure that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible. All enquiries are confidential and we promise to deal with it sensitively and in the best way possible for you. We have both male and female solicitors on hand to provide assistance, as well as offering ‘No Win, No Fee’ for our clients.

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.

Darlington Office Success

Posted: 27th March 2019

The Northern Echo reports on the success of our Darlington office.

Criminal defence solicitor Stephen Andrews combines both his nearly 25 years of experience and his passion for ‘giving people a voice’ to successfully head up our Darlington branch.

Alongside Stephen at the Darlington branch is Stephanie Thompson, also a criminal defence solicitor, Kirsty Nelson, a family solicitor specialising in care proceedings, and the new addition to our team Nicola Merson, also a family solicitor.

Read more here

Medomsley Detention Centre victims of abuse

Posted: 13th March 2019

‘Operation Seabrook’ is a large scale investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse against detainees at Medomsley Detention Centre. It was launched in August 2013 by Durham County Police, and is now the biggest investigation of its kind in the UK.

County Durham has moved a step closer to closure today with the criminal conviction of another of the centre’s senior staff.

Previous trials in 2003 and 2005 led to the conviction and imprisonment of former members of staff, Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson, 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 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.

Civil Litigation solicitor, Alistair Smith, has been leading the fight for justice for the Medomsley Detention Centre Victims. He has been at the forefront of a steering group, bringing solicitors firms and claimants together to pursue Civil claims against the Ministry of Justice.

medomsley detention centre

Alistair Smith is vastly experienced in both present and historic abuse cases and is leading this fight for justice, by 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. JT and many other victims of similar abuse, are now able to claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation. Read more about the changes to the ‘same roof rule’ here.

Alistair Smith 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.

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.

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.

Criminal Injuries Compensation 'Same Roof Rule' 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 denied compensation to victims of violent crimes (before 1979), if they lived with their attacker at the time.

Our client’s Court of Appeal success

medomsley detention centreactions against police

The Civil Litigation team of Watson Woodhouse challenged this rule on behalf of a lady, JT, from Teesside. The team successfully challenged the rule with the Court of Appeal case of JT -v- First Tier Tribunal. It was found that the rule unlawfully discriminated against our client. Subsequently, Parliament decided to take out this unfair and discriminatory rule out of the Scheme completely. The Same Roof Rule was overturned.

Watch Alistair Smith talk about the changes to the ‘same roof rule’ and how we can help here.

What this means for victims and survivors?

This means that JT and other victims of assault between 1964 and 1979 can now apply for compensation.

If you were the victim of assault 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 who have successfully overturned this rule. We 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.

With vast experience, and an excellent track record of achieving results, we provide both a professional, and personal service, tailored to the needs of the individual clients case.

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.

 

same roof rule

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.