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£50,000 payout to trespasser over Carlisle Castle moat fall

The owners of Carlisle Castle paid more than £50,000 in legal costs and damages to a woman trespasser who was injured as she fell into the moat at 2am.

Carlisle castle photo
Carlisle Castle

The case was one of the most incredible examples of how popular tourist attractions in Cumbria are losing out because of a compensation culture that is costing the industry millions.

The details emerged as part of a survey of 24 UK organisations which run historic tourist attractions such as museums, castles, and country houses.

English Heritage, which runs Carlisle Castle, confirmed the woman suffered pelvic and hip injuries as a result of her fall there.

After several years of legal wrangling, her claim was finally resolved in 2008 when the woman accepted an out-of-court compensation settlement of £15,000.

English Heritage also paid the woman’s legal fees of £37,250.

Many defendants in civil claims settle out of court without admitting liability because they fear spiralling legal costs. Critics say the problem is fuelled by the no-win no-fee deals offered by some law firms.

In a statement issued yesterday, a spokeswoman for English Heritage said the women had gone in the castle premises at 2am.

“On doing so, she would have passed signage stating opening hours for visitors to the castle – 1 October to 31 March, 10am to 4pm as well as a notice stating: ‘Please take care as historic sites can be hazardous.”

“As such, the claimant can have been in no doubt that she was not entitled to enter the Castle and was therefore trespassing. It is understood that the claimant fell from the half moon battery.

“A review of security at the site was conducted following the incident.

“The health and safety of visitors to our properties and sites is extremely important and we do have an extremely good safety record.

“While we have the have the utmost sympathy for any distress the claimant has suffered, her decision to enter the site out of hours can be regarded as extremely regrettable.

“The health and safety of visitors to our properties and sites is extremely important to English Heritage and we do have a very good safety record. English Heritage regularly review health and safety and security procedures at all English Heritage sites.”

Other examples of large compensation payouts include an award of £23,651 for a woman trapped in a revolving door at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

She suffered a hip injury. Her legal fees of almost £30,000 were also paid in her settlement. Another case involving the museum saw a man receiving £400 after he put his thumb into hot soup in the museum restaurant.

Recent headline grabbing compensation cases in Cumbria include:

  • A Workington man paid undisclosed damages because his former bosses gave him a bad reference. Edmund Nuttall Ltd said the man was ‘very dishonest’ had an unacceptable sick record.
  • A Longtown couple landed with a legal bill of almost £30,000 after a three year dispute over a four-inch-high concrete step.
  • A tribunal claim for damages of £696,000 by former Cumbrian NHS Primary Care Trust boss Nigel Woodcock, who said he was squeezed out and discriminated against on grounds of age.
Have your say

Why did English Heritage settle with her?

There's no way she'd have won the case. Despite all the fictional stories you read in the tabloids, our legal system doesn't reward people for their own stupidity.

Posted by Anon on 23 August 2010 at 20:41

Was shocked to read this story. As an ex Carlisle resident living in other countries and now in the US 20 years I thought it was "only in America" these ridiculous lawsuits were accepted by the courts. What happened to personal responsibility? Britain, don't go down this road, as here it leads to every person and business having insurance to defend against any legal dispute.

Posted by Stuart on 4 May 2010 at 06:07

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