Winterbourne View families seek compensation for abuse

Families of learning disabled people allegedly abused at Winterbourne View are to sue Castlebeck, the company that runs the hospital.

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Families of learning disabled people allegedly abused at Winterbourne View are to sue Castlebeck, the company that runs the hospital.

Footage of people being abused at the hospital in Bristol was screened last month by BBC’s Panorama.

Andrew Hannam, partner at Foot Antsey solicitors, confirmed that the firm has been instructed by four of the families involved to take action. He added that several others have expressed an interest and he expected the number of complainants to increase.

“My focus is on compensating the families,” said Hannam.

Letters announcing the intention to start legal proceedings will be sent to Castlebeck later this week.

Hannam estimated the settlement for the group could well run into millions of pounds. The settlement for a case of abuse uncovered at NHS learning disability services in Cornwall in 2006 is still outstanding but is expected to be in excess of £1.7m.

The settlement for each individual will depend on any abuse suffered and the amount of time they spent at Winterbourne View. “There will be a range. We have got, just in our little group of people, those who have been there from three and a half weeks to three and a half years,” he said.

He said the primary cause for action would be alleged assault but he said further subsidiary causes for action may also be uncovered by further ongoing investigations into the case.

Hannam’s firm will be asking Castlebeck to foot the bill for an investigation into the abuse claims before coming to any settlement, which would reduce the legal fees that the claimants would face.

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