High Court allows stabbed social worker to seek payout

A social worker who was told she could not sue two health authorities after she was stabbed by psychiatric patient Graham Burton (pictured) has been given leave to appeal against the decision.

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A social worker who was told she could not sue two health authorities after she was stabbed by a psychiatric patient has been given leave to appeal against the decision.

Claire Selwood, who worked for Durham Council, was left seriously injured after being stabbed six times by Graham Burton during a meeting at his child’s school.

Two days before the October 2006 attack, Burton told his psychiatrist he would kill Selwood if he saw her.

Burton was on leave from a psychiatric hospital at the time of the incident while care proceedings concerning all three of his children took place.

He was receiving in-patient mental health care from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust and community-based mental health care from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust before the attack.

An independent inquiry found a “complete failure” by medical staff to warn Selwood of any danger.

But when Selwood tried to sue Durham Council and the two NHS trusts for compensation earlier this year, her case against the health authorities was struck out.

According to local reports, the judge ruled that neither trust could be held liable because they owed her no duty of care.

However, Selwood took the case to the High Court, which has given her leave to appeal. The case will now be heard in the Civil Appeal Court.

At Newcastle Crown Court in June 2007, Burton was imprisoned indefinitely after being found guilty of attempted murder.

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