Thursday, 6 December 2012

Are we abuse lawyers really ambulance chasing bandits?

Did you see the article in the Sunday Mail about David Greenwood? I read it and cringed, only because I knew how unfair and biased it was. Many typical "Daily Mail readers" would have read it and thought "is it really true that all those criminals who are claiming compensation are really liars who have jumped on the bandwagon with pound notes in their eyes."

Nothing, of course could be further from the truth. I only know that because I have acted for hundreds of them over the years, whereas David Rose, who wrote the article, and makes his money out of investigative journalism, probably hasn't. If he had seen a hardened 50 year old criminal cry like a baby, as I have, when describing his abuse, he would not go for the easy target, a lawyer trying to win un-winable cases.

His article describes a children's home called St. Williams which was a catholic home run by Catholic Priests where cruelty and severe abuse abounded for many years. Countless young boys lives were ruined. One of the victims has managed to find a very good support group on the Wirral. He tells his story graphically on this training video

You only have to watch this video to know how cruel and unpleasant it was to go there as a frightened child without proper love in their lives, separated from the families that nurtured them, alone and vulnerable.

The article concentrates on an outraged angry employee who blew the whistle, and then was accused of physically abusing boys, arrested but never charged.

David Greenwood, the lawyer who has devoted his life in a very genuine way to try and help the lads who were abused is vilified in the article. He won "Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year" at the recent Eclipse awards in London. I know, I was there as a finalist in the same category. A picture of him receiving the award is tagged with

"behind Mr. Greenwood's grin, a Mail on Sunday investigation can today reveal the truth behind the ambulance chasing lawyer's victory. Far from being a cry for justice, it instead represents a benchmark for a modern culture of "witch-hunt" persecutions."

The article implies that David has taken money off the tax payer to fund the case. The implication is that he is milking us to line his own pockets. What the article fails to mention is that most, if not all, of any money he draws will be paid back when the case is successful as it inevitably will be.

Rose has had a go at me before. I got the same treatment in a Panorama programme in 2003, then had to justify my actions before a House of Commons Select Committee at which David Cameron sat. You can read it here. It is ironical that Cameron is still playing to the gallery and the "Daily Mail readers" even now. He is quoted in this Guardian article as asking me the question "Conservative MP David Cameron said a list of cases on the solicitor's website was "almost an invitation" for abuse complaints."

Does his reaction to the list of questions provided to him on the morning TV programme - that Phillip Scofield had better be careful because the list of suspects of abuse was becoming a gay witch hunt - sound familiar. Cameron, like many politicians don't like lawyers. He and his colleagues are trying to destroy the claimant personal injury industry by listening to insurance companies and ignoring the victims.

At one time Personal Injury victims were people who had been genuinely injured, often irreparably because someone had been careless whether with health and safety, or driving a car. Now they are seen as chancers out to make a fast buck, and their lawyers just ambulance chasing leeches on the large pockets of unfeeling large corporate ventures - the insurers.

Finally, I find it somewhat rich that a newspaper that survives largely from advertising revenue, criticises in an article a lawyer who advertises in a prison newspaper. Rose has done this sort of article before. It is controversial, and will sell papers because it is extreme. He makes his money out of being able to write articles which sell. So, let's be honest, all parties have vested interests to pursue, and I suppose someone has to take the side of the alleged falsely accused.

I have advised David Greenwood to take advice on a libel suit against the Mail. His professional reputation in the article is unfairly maligned in my humble opinion. I know him and therefore it is easier to say. The imputations from this article are not well founded. I hope he pursues the matter and wins. On the other hand, he probably won't want to be distracted from his main course in life - helping the innocent victims of child abuse.

Rose is described by other bloggers as a "hatchet man" or "fixer". There is a saying "there is no such thing as bad publicity". Well this publicity not only insults a good lawyer doing a difficult job. It also insults the thousands of genuine victims of abuse round the country, who keep their guilty secrets buried for many years, so timid are they of being ridiculed. If Rose had the courage to attack the victims then he knows he would be pilloried. Instead he goes for their lawyer. That, in my book, is an act of cowardice...I rest my case.