Justice For Woman Failed By Social Services

Justice For Woman Failed By Social Services

Irwin Mitchell represented a young woman who was abused by her mother until she went into care, securing a compensation package for her.

Our client, Michelle, was brought up in Camden. Social services were involved in her family from a young age, due to numerous reports made to social workers and the NSPCC, as well as anonymous tip offs from the neighbours. Michelle was sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her mother. No action was taken to protect her, or to even effectively monitor her position. When Michelle was 14, she was taken by her mother to the police and her mother asked for her to go into care.

At 17, Michelle tried to get hold of her social services records, but they were never received. In 2004, she reported her mother to the police and the mother later pleaded guilty to child cruelty. At this stage Michelle was unable to disclose the sexual abuse she had suffered.

She then contacted Irwin Mitchell to bring a professional negligence claim against Camden. We issued court proceedings in the High Court and Michelle claimed loss of earnings caused by the abuse and medical treatment. Initially the case was defended on all fronts, including time limits.

The case went to trial and Michelle was required to give evidence of the abuse she had suffered.  Expert independent social work evidence described the local authority’s failings. The Honourable Mrs Justice Swift DBE heard the case in June 2009. The case was successful and the judge believed Michelle’s compelling testimony and accepted the independent social work evidence as fair and careful.

To help Michelle manage her compensation, Irwin Mitchell advised her on setting up a personal injury trust. She was able to afford private therapy and rebuild her life after a long battle for criminal and civil justice.

Michelle was represented by Tracey Storey, a child abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell. She said: “We were so impressed with Michelle’s courage in coming forward. The court case wasn’t easy, but Michelle gave her evidence well, recalling deeply painful childhood abuse and trauma. Michelle found the process healing and winning her case has helped her draw a line under these events and make sense of what happened.  I wish her all the best for her future.”

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