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Here, we take a look back at some of the key cases and results, and milestone moments for our firm, and those we represented in 2021.

January – Dangers of Smart Motorways highlighted by Coroner’s ruling
The dangers of ‘Smart Motorways’ was placed into the national spotlight when a coroner ruled that the death of Jason Mercer could have been avoided had there been a hard shoulder on the M1.

Coroner David Urpeth concluded that Mr Mercer and 22 year-old Alexandru Murgeanu, who died alongside him, were unlawfully killed in an accident and that the operation of the smart motorway system had been a contributing factor. He called for a wider review into their safety.

Hudgell Solicitors’ executive chairman Neil Hudgell represented Mrs Mercer at inquest and has supported her as she has led a high-profile campaign against the removal of hard shoulders from motorways in the UK.

In November 2021 the House of Commons Transport Select Committee delivered a report saying it was “not convinced” by the merits of Smart Motorways and asked the Department of Transport to pause all plans to remove hard shoulders for five years, to allow for more data to be collected and reviewed.
February – Inquest finds father was unlawfully killed and leads to CPS review of case
The coroner at an inquest into the death of a 29-year-old father who was chased and restrained by staff working at Manchester Victoria Station ruled that he had been ‘unlawfully killed’.

Jack Barnes had pleaded that he’d been struggling to breathe seven times as he was restrained face-down on the ground; he subsequently died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The inquest conclusion paved the way for a CPS review of the case as to whether there should have been any criminal prosecutions relating to Mr Barnes’ death. Jack’s family were represented by solicitor Lauren Dale, supported by Neil Hudgell.
March – Subpostmasters appeals against convictions heard at The Royal Courts of Justice
Executive chairman Neil Hudgell and Tim Moloney QC of Doughty Street Chambers represented former subpostmasters at The Royal Courts of Justice. Their cases had been referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Subpostmasters were victims of what has become recognised the biggest legal miscarriage of justice ever in the UK. It saw the Post Office use its private prosecution powers over a 15-year period from 2000 onwards to convict them of crimes including theft and false accounting when its faulty Horizon accounting system showed unexplained shortfalls and discrepancies at branches across the country.

Following the hearing, Mr Hudgell said: “It has been satisfying to finally see the sub-postmasters’ appeals come before the Court. Our clients are very hopeful that this court will see that there has been unnecessary and unjustifiable loss of life, liberty and sanity for many ordinary, decent people as a result of prosecutions that should never have happened.”
April – Convictions of former subpostmasters quashed on judgment day at Court of Appeal
On judgement day at The Court of Appeal relating to the Post Office Horizon scandal, Hudgell Solicitors successfully represented 29 of 39 former subpostmasters to have long-standing convictions quashed.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell called for the focus to ‘’finally and fiercely’ switch to investigating Post Office officials who ‘maliciously ruined the lives of innocent people by prosecuting them in pursuit of profits.’

The judgments brought widespread national and international media coverage. By the end of 2021, our legal team had supported 58 people to clear their names.
May – Supporting ‘Martin’s Mountain’ by raising £100,000 for The Spinal Injuries Association
We were delighted in May to announce our support for Manchester Arena bombing survivor Martin Hibbert as he prepares for his inspirational challenge to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Martin was one of the closest people to the terrorist blast at the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 to survive and aims to raise £1m to provide better support to people who suffer spinal injuries in the UK.

In support of that challenge, we set ourselves a target of raising £100,000 of that amount through our fundraising efforts and events.

By the end of 2021 we had raised more than £30,000 towards the cause, with many events planned for 2022. Despite his life-changing injuries, Martin aims to carry a Paralympic torch from the 2012 London Games to the top of Africa’s highest mountain, as part of the ‘Martin’s Mountain’ challenge.

Martin is one of more than 100 survivors seriously injured in the terrorist attack to have instructed our legal team to act in their interests.
June – First findings of Manchester Arena Inquiry highlight ‘serious shortcomings’ of security
The Manchester Arena Inquiry released the first volume of its report into the 2017 bombing which killed 22 people, in which Chairman Sir John Saunders concluded that there had been a series of “serious shortcomings” in security measures.

Legal teams instructed by Hudgell Solicitors had argued on behalf of families that current arrangements are a systemic breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, requiring urgent remedial action.

Afterwards, Solicitor Neil Hudgell said the inquiry had ‘strongly demonstrated that there was an inexcusable catalogue of failings at every level which made the venue an attractive target to a terrorist attack, failed to deter or prevent the outrage, and as a result contributed to the loss of life and injury.’
July – Parole Board agrees to early release of prisoner who helped stop London Bridge terrorist
The Parole Board agreed to allow Steven Gallant - who tackled terrorist Usman Khan on London Bridge when he was on day release from prison in 2019 - early release.

Mr Gallant was granted a Royal pardon for his actions after solicitor Neil Hudgell was part of the legal team to successfully make a request to exercise the Royal Prerogative, which was granted by the Queen.

Mr Gallant had been convicted, along with another man, of the murder of a man in Hull in 2005 and was sentenced to 17 years.

He sought help and vowed never to turn to violence again, taking a business studies degree and co-writing several plays in prison. He is now seeking to establish a charity to help rehabilitate prisoners.

Mr Gallant gave his first newspaper interview after his release to the Sunday Mirror in November.
August – Recruitment drive launched as firm seeks further growth across north
Continued growth was the focus as we pushed ahead with the expansion of our clinical negligence team by recruiting for both our offices in Hull and Manchester.

Chief executive Rachel Di Clemente said our offer of flexible working arrangements, in which staff work an agreed number of days at home and at a specified office, was helping to attract more experienced lawyers, with the successful transition to a new way of working also influencing an ever-increasing geographical reach of clients.

“Our strategy has been to place a clear focus on the growth and expansion of our clinical negligence team based from our physical locations in Hull and Manchester,” she said.
September – Role confirmed representing ‘Core Participants’ at Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry
It was confirmed that Hudgell Solicitors will play a key role in the 2022 Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry by representing former subpostmasters named as ‘Core Participants’ for the hearing.

The independent public statutory inquiry will seek to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of the Horizon IT system at the Post Office over its lifetime.

As legal representatives of Core Participants, Hudgell Solicitors will be provided with disclosure of evidence, have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements on behalf of clients, be able to suggest lines of questioning at oral hearings, be able to apply to ask questions of witnesses and be provided with advance copies of the Inquiry’s reports.
October – Inquest jury finds that man was ‘unlawfully killed’ when shot by police officers
A jury returned a verdict that Lewis Skelton of Hull, who died after being shot by armed officers from Humberside Police in November 2016, was ‘unlawfully killed’.

At the conclusion of the inquest, solicitor Neil Hudgell, who represents the family of Mr Skelton, made said of the case: “When stripping this incident back to its basic, undeniable facts, a young man who had not threatened anyone that day died at the hands of armed police officers from Humberside Police who shot him twice.

“The fact Lewis had an axe in his hand as he walked the streets could not be ignored. “A police response was appropriate, but sadly the response of the police was not.”

Mr Skelton’s family said: “As a family we have had to wait almost five years for Lewis to have some form of justice. Today is a huge day for our family and certainly one of huge emotion for us all. The jury has confirmed what we all knew, the killing of Lewis was wrong and it was unlawful.”
November – Accolades continue as firm named in Times Best 200 Law Firms for second year
The firm’s continued growth and success led us to once again being named as one of the ‘Best 200 Law Firms’ in England and Wales by The Times newspaper.

It came weeks after owner and executive chairman Neil Hudgell collected two prestigious legal awards as he was named The Law Society Gazette’s Legal Personality of the Year and the Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year.

Our teams were also hailed for their quality of their work in civil liberties and human rights cases, as well as our traditional areas of personal injury and medical negligence claims, in the 2022 Legal 500 guide.

Of the Times 200 listing, Neil Hudgell said: “We are delighted to have been included in this prestigious listing of leading law firms again. It was a major milestone for us to be included last year, and the pleasing thing for me is that over the past 12 months I feel we have really strengthened our position as one of the UK’s leading legal practices in the work we have done.”
December – Inquest finds police mistakes ‘probably’ contributed to Stephen Port victims’ deaths
Jurors at the inquests into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and 25-year-old Jack Taylor, concluded that police failings “probably” contributed to the deaths of victims.

The inquest heard how officers in Barking, east London, missed repeated opportunities to catch serial killer Stephen Port after he plied first victim Mr Walgate with a fatal dose of date-rape drug GHB and dumped his body.

Port struck three more times before he was caught, killing each of his young, gay, male victims in near-identical circumstances, with police failing to link him to the deaths despite detective work carried out by the victims’ family and friends that would lead them to the culprit.

Hudgell Solicitors represented the families of all four victims. Afterwards, speaking on their behalf, solicitor Neil Hudgell said: “The inadequate investigations by the Metropolitan Police into the deaths of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack should be on public record as one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history.” Speaking about the families, Mr Hudgell added: “Throughout their seven-year ordeal they have never once wavered in their desire for justice, accountability and answers. It is down to their dogged determination that we are here today and have forced the police into explaining their actions.”

In addition to this, Solicitor Chris Moore secured an expected £15m-£20m damages settlement for a 17-year-old boy after a High Court judge ruled in his favour and against Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The boy suffered permanent damage at birth from chronic partial hypoxia which resulted in asymmetric quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

As part of the case it was alleged that an obstetrician failed to give appropriate advice to the boy’s mother in late pregnancy back in 2004, when she had been worried about reduced fetal movements.

The trial took place over three days in London’s High Court, where an interim payment of £500,000 was awarded, with a final compensation settlement to be agreed between the parties or determined by the court.

Whist the result was of huge significance for our client, it was also of significance legal as very few clinical negligence claims of this value and magnitude proceed to trial, the vast majority settling before or during legal proceedings.

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