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Tracey Emmott fought off appeal by Catholic church
Who? Tracey Emmott, 46, sexual abuse and personal injury sole practitioner at Bedford firm Emmott Snell.
Why is she in the news? Won a Court of Appeal ruling that the Catholic Church is legally responsible for child abuse committed by its clergy.
Her client claims that she was sexually abused by a priest while living in a children’s home run by the Catholic church. The priest is now dead, but the High Court in November 2011 found that the church can still be held responsible. The church appealed the decision on the grounds that it has no formal employment relationship with its priests. The Court of Appeal dismissed the church’s appeal, ruling that the relationship between a priest and his bishop is so close as to impose responsibility.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The priority was for my client to win this preliminary issue in order to progress her own substantive claim. However, she was also the standard bearer for other victims of clerical abuse.’
Route to the case: Through an abuse survivors’ support group.
Dealing with the media: ‘On the whole, respectful of my client’s anonymity and privacy. I was overwhelmed by the social media interest - Twitter and almost 20 pages of blogs.’
Career high: ‘Squeezing the most modest interim payment (less than £1,000) from an elusive paedophile who had done his best to obstruct and avoid my client’s claim, despite our obtaining a High Court freezing order. It was a small sum, but it meant the world to her.’
Career low: ‘As a trainee working on a case where the client, who had been abused in a children’s home, was told she had no legal remedy. This was before the law was developed so that “historic” abuse claims could proceed even where out of time.’