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Ski trip victim expects £1m pay-out

PUBLISHED: 15:35 26 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

A WHEELCHAIR-bound young man is expected to receive compensation of nearly £1 million after his former Suffolk school was judged to have been partly responsible for his skiing accident.

A WHEELCHAIR-bound young man is expected to receive compensation of nearly £1 million after his former Suffolk school was judged to have been partly responsible for his skiing accident.

Woodbridge School is challenging yesterday's ruling that it was 50 per cent to blame for the incident during a school trip to Austria in 1996 after which Simon Chittock, then 17, was paralysed from the waist down.

The school immediately lodged an appeal when Mr Justice Leveson announced his decision and when this was refused, the school said it would seek leave to appeal.

Woodbridge School governor Jonathan Ripman said: ''The school will of course review its procedures for taking school trips.''

Mr Chittock's father, Ivan, of Tuddenham, said after the ruling that he was sad there was no apology from the school or the trip's teachers, and he warned that the decision to pursue an appeal added to the family's distress.

''I am disappointed to hear that the school has failed to acknowledge their dereliction of duty towards Simon and consider the implications of the judgement against them,'' he said.

"It is the case that the judge found that the teachers supervising the trip failed to fulfil their duty of care to Simon and as a consequence have been held liable for his accident.

''No judgement by a court can ever put Simon in the position he was before the accident. This was a tragic accident and he will have to live with it.''

In his ruling the judge emphasised that the teachers on the trip had not been ''cavalier or reckless in the way in which they fulfilled their responsibilities''.

A spokesman for Woodbridge School said: ''We believed that the organisers acted correctly in every aspect of the 1996 trip, and indeed one of the witnesses for the Chittock family was allowed by his parents to join a school ski trip the following year.

"It must be remembered that Simon was a senior pupil participating on a junior ski trip with parental consent to reduced supervision.

''We understood the family's right to pursue a claim for negligence. The actual cause of the accident was that Simon was skiing too fast. For this reason any award of damages in his favour will be reduced by 50 per cent.

''Despite the judgement, the governors and headmaster retain complete confidence in the professional skill, judgement and integrity of all staff who accompany such trips.''

Simon Chittock, who now lives in Tronville Road, Clapham, London, was injured after skiing off-piste near a chair lift. He fell to the ground and landed on his back.

The once-active teenager who, apart from skiing, played rugby, hockey and other sports, received emergency treatment at a hospital in Innsbruck and then was admitted to the spinal injuries ward at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire.

The amount of compensation will be assessed at another court hearing unless an out-of court settlement is agreed.

The judge ordered the school to pay 66pc of Mr Chittock's legal costs after a week-long trial at the High Court.

It is expected the school will learn within three months if it is allowed to appeal.

It could be a year before Mr Chittock receives compensation.

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