Determination by Sheriff Principal Duncan L Murray WS in the FAI into the death of Fearne Adger [2022] FAI 18

Fatal Accident Inquiry before Sheriff Principal Murray into the death of 8-month old Fearne Adger at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley on 29 April 2017. The inquiry heard evidence over nine days. Fearne had presented to hospital with symptoms diagnosed as gastroenteritis and was only admitted on her third presentation. Several hours after her admission, she suffered a sudden cardiac event and died.

Whilst there were recognised failings in Fearne’s care, the submission on behalf of Greater Glasgow Health Board was that the cause of death was disseminated parechovirus infection which gave rise to myocarditis, which in turn gave rise to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. There was no other contributing cause of death. This cause of death was not predictable from the clinical information and was not avoidable. Disseminated parechovirus was only identified on post-mortem. Despite contrary submissions by the Crown and the family on the basis of their expert evidence, the Sheriff Principal accepted the submission on behalf of the Board as to the cause of death. He also concluded that there were no reasonable precautions which might have avoided the death, nor were there defects in the system of working which contributed to the death, in terms of sections 26(2)(e) and 26(2)(f) of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Etc (Scotland) Act 2016. He made no recommendations in terms of s26(1)(b) of the Act.

The determination can be found here.

Ampersand’s Una Doherty QC acted for Greater Glasgow Health Board.

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Determination by Sheriff Principal Duncan L Murray WS in the FAI into the death of Fearne Adger [2022] FAI 18

Ampersand’s Una Doherty QC acted for Greater Glasgow Health Board at the Fatal Accident Inquiry before Sheriff Principal Murray into the death of 8-month old Fearne Adger at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley on 29 April 2017. The inquiry heard evidence over nine days. Fearne had presented to hospital with symptoms diagnosed as gastroenteritis and was only admitted on her third presentation. Several hours after her admission, she suffered a sudden cardiac event and died.

Whilst there were recognised failings in Fearne’s care, the submission on behalf of Greater Glasgow Health Board was that the cause of death was disseminated parechovirus infection which gave rise to myocarditis, which in turn gave rise to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. There was no other contributing cause of death. This cause of death was not predictable from the clinical information and was not avoidable. Disseminated parechovirus was only identified on post-mortem. Despite contrary submissions by the Crown and the family on the basis of their expert evidence, the Sheriff Principal accepted the submission on behalf of the Board as to the cause of death. He also concluded that there were no reasonable precautions which might have avoided the death, nor were there defects in the system of working which contributed to the death, in terms of sections 26(2)(e) and 26(2)(f) of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Etc (Scotland) Act 2016. He made no recommendations in terms of s26(1)(b) of the Act.

The determination can be found here.

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Jamie Dawson QC one of eleven QCs appointed to UK Covid-19 Inquiry legal team

Ampersand is pleased to hear that Jamie Dawson QC  has been appointed along with ten other Queen’s Counsel (QCs) to join the UK Covid-19 Inquiry legal team. The eleven QCs will support Hugo Keith QC, Lead Counsel to the Inquiry, and Martin Smith, Solicitor to the Inquiry, with the preparation and delivery of the Inquiry’s investigative work.

The full news item can be viewed here.

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Susanne Tanner QC publishes Report on review of Edinburgh Council’s whistleblowing culture

Susanne Tanner QC has published her Report into the Review of the Whistleblowing and Organisational Culture of the City of Edinburgh Council. The full Report and an accessible version can be read at: Independent inquiry – The City of Edinburgh Council.

The independent Review was commissioned by councillors in October 2020 and carried out by Ms Tanner as independent chair, with the support of a team from law firm, Pinsent Masons LLP.

It followed the commissioning of an independent inquiry into the way in which allegations of abuse involving a senior social worker were dealt with by the authority at the time that they were made, which was also chaired by Ms Tanner QC and reported in October 2021 (Independent inquiry – The City of Edinburgh Council).

The Report on the Review concludes that the council does not have a universally positive, open, safe and supportive whistleblowing and organisational culture and makes 50 recommendations for transformational change.

In a personal statement, Ms Tanner said: “Our Review of the whistleblowing and organisational culture at City of Edinburgh Council (“CEC”) has only been possible because people have been willing to give their time to speak to us, to share their experiences and views. We are extremely grateful for all the contributions we have received from CEC Colleagues, Councillors, officers, trade union representatives, Edinburgh residents, the external whistleblowing service provider and others who have reached out to shine a light on the current whistleblowing and organisational culture at CEC.

The purpose of the recommendations we are making is to inform cultural change in the way that complaints of wrongdoing are dealt with by CEC, to ensure that CEC is as transparent and accountable as it can be in its actions, and that it engenders a feeling of safety in those who wish to raise concerns, by removing any actual or perceived barriers to disclosures. We hope that in doing so, the culture will be better for its workforce, its elected members, and ultimately those whom they all serve, the residents of the city of Edinburgh.

The Report will be presented to councillors at the full Council meeting on Thursday 16 December 2021.

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City of Edinburgh Council unanimously accepts Inquiry team’s Recommendations in the Sean Bell Inquiry

Susanne Tanner QC and the Inquiry Team at Pinsent Masons LLP have published their Open Report in the investigation into allegations concerning the conduct of the late Sean Bell and the way in which historical complaints about him were dealt with by the City of Edinburgh Council at the time that they were made: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=39781 . 

Susanne Tanner QC, the independent chair of the Inquiry, presented the Open Report at the City of Edinburgh Council’s full council meeting on Thursday 28 October (https://edinburgh.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/611512). She stated: “As a team, we have taken our responsibility to investigate these important issues extremely seriously. From the start, we committed to carrying out a survivor-led inquiry focused wholeheartedly on giving survivors a voice and safeguarding their welfare and that of others vulnerable to abuse. With that in mind, our sincere thanks go to the survivors who have remained the priority throughout our inquiry process and we thank them for taking the difficult but important step of contacting the inquiry to share their experiences.”

The council unanimously accepted the Inquiry Team’s recommendations in full, including the implementation of an independent unit of appropriately experienced and properly trained investigators to investigate all allegations of a sexual nature, domestic abuse, physical violence, stalking or harassment; and a redress scheme to compensate those who were abused by Sean Bell.

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Mary Ellen Stewart

Mary Ellen Stewart called to the Bar in 2021, after training and qualifying with Brodies LLP, and latterly working there as a senior solicitor.

As a solicitor, Mary Ellen had a busy practice dealing with a broad range of commercial disputes. Her practice had a particular focus on commercial contracts, banking and finance, insolvency and professional liability litigation. When in private practice, Mary Ellen appeared in the Sheriff Courts and instructed Counsel in Court of Session cases.

Mary Ellen has a particular interest in professional liability and regulation. She also has an interest in maritime and shipping law, and is the Advocate member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Marine Law Sub-Committee. Mary Ellen is also a part-time tutor of Contract Law and Unjustified Enrichment at Edinburgh University.

Mary Ellen was appointed to junior panel of Standing Junior Counsel to the Advocate General for Scotland in 2021.

Mary Ellen is fluent and fully literate in Scottish Gaelic and is well placed to undertake work involving consideration of documents in Gaelic.

 

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