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Not a penny for paralysed skier

PUBLISHED: 12:10 26 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:10 03 March 2010

A TEENAGER left in a wheelchair after a school skiing trip turned to tragedy was today stripped of his right to compensation by Appeal Court judges who cleared the teacher in charge of all blame.

A TEENAGER left in a wheelchair after a school skiing trip turned to tragedy was today stripped of his right to compensation by Appeal Court judges who cleared the teacher in charge of all blame.

Simon Chittock was just 17 when he cracked his spine in the April 1996 accident at Austria's Kuhtai resort at the end of a week-long trip organised by Woodbridge School.

The teenager, of Tronville Road, Clapham, South London, failed to take a tight bend whilst trying to overtake a slow-moving group of skiers and shot off the side of the mountain.

In July last year High Court judge, Mr Justice Leveson, ruled Woodbridge School 50 per cent responsible for the accident – but that ruling was today overturned at the Appeal Court.

Even on the basis of 50pc liability, Mr Chittock's damage's claim was valued by his lawyers at at least £500,000. Now he will go without a penny.

He had funded his case from a modest travel insurance pay-out, but all that money has now been eaten up by legal cost bills and his counsel, Mr David Wilby QC, said he and his family were now "without funds" to pursue a final appeal to the House of Lords.

Lord Justice Auld exonerated the teacher in charge of the school trip, Mr Andrew Jackson, from all blame for the tragedy.

Mr Justice Leveson had found the school 50pc liable on grounds that Mr Jackson had not done enough to discipline Mr Chittock and friends after they were caught skiing off piste the day before the accident.

Mr Wilby argued Mr Chittock's ski pass should have been confiscated, or at least he should not have been allowed to ski unsupervised, and, had that been done, the accident would never have happened.

But Lord Justice Auld, sitting with Lord Justice Carnwath and Sir Swinton Thomas, said Mr Jackson had done all that was required of him in telling the sixth formers to stay on piste and receiving an assurance from them that they would do so.

He added that, even had Mr Chittock been supervised by a teacher, that probably would not have avoided the accident which happened when Simon lost control while skiing on piste.

Mr Chittock and two friends from the sixth form had been allowed to go on the trip – otherwise made up of junior pupils – as a favour to them and their parents had been told that they would be allowed to "free ski" unsupervised, the judge concluded.

Mr Chittock was not in court to hear the ruling.

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