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Prisoner’s £100,000 damages claim against the MoJ in respect of an assault by another prisoner is dismissed

15th January 2018

Sian Reeves represented the Ministry of Justice in a 3 day trial that took place between 8 and 10 January 2018.

On 7 January 2010, the Claimant was assaulted by another prisoner at HMP Whitemoor in the spur kitchen during evening association.  The Claimant claimed that the Ministry of Justice had failed in its duty of care by not preventing the assault.  Specifically, the Claimant claimed that: (i) the Ministry of Justice’s staffing levels were inadequate; (ii) that the kitchen was a known hot spot for assaults; and (iv) that the Ministry of Justice had failed to take appropriate action in response to earlier intelligence reports.

In a judgment handed down on 11 January 2018, HHJ Freeland QC dismissed the Claimant’s claim.   HHJ Freeland QC rejected all of the Claimant’s allegations of negligence.   HHJ Freeland QC rejected the allegation that the staffing level on the spur was inadequate, and rejected the allegation that the kitchen was a known hot spot for assaults requiring a greater level of supervision.    In HHJ Freeland QC’s judgment, there was no relevant intelligence in relation to the assault and such as to put the Ministry of Justice on notice of the risk of an imminent assault on the Claimant.

Initially, the Claimant had advanced multiple different causes of action against the Ministry of Justice and 6 other defendants.  Save for the claim in common law negligence in respect of the assault on 7 January 2010, all other causes of action were struck out in September 2016.    A costs order was previously made in respect of the costs of that striking out.   Whilst the QOCS regime applied to the proceedings, as many of these causes of action that had been struck out amounted to “a claim…for the benefit of the claimant other than a claim to which this Section applies” HHJ Freeland QC gave permission to the Ministry of Justice to enforce the earlier costs order to the extent of 80%, pursuant to CPR r. 44.16(2)(b).

Sian Reeves was instructed by the Government Legal Department.

Related Barristers

Sian Reeves

Sian Reeves
Year of Call: 2006