Housemistress suing boarding school is accused of exaggerating injury

Housemistress suing £35,000-a-year boarding school for £1.8m after ‘breaking wrist in fall’ is accused of exaggerating injury after being caught on video throwing ball for her dog

  • Lindsey Shaw, 60, worked at the prestigious Mill Hill School for 30 years
  • She broke her wrist when she slipped on a wet floor outside a meeting room
  • Mrs Shaw now claims her ongoing ‘disability’ has ruined her career  
  • The foundation which runs the school admits primary liability for the accident
  • But it accused the teacher of ‘exaggerating’ her symptoms to boost her claim 

Lindsey Shaw, who worked at prestigious Mill Hill School for 30 years, broke her wrist when she slipped on a wet floor

A housemistress at a £35,000-a-year boarding school who claims she was left disabled after breaking her wrist in a fall is being accused of faking a £1.8million compensation bid after she was secretly filmed throwing a ball for her dog.

Lindsey Shaw, who worked at prestigious Mill Hill School for 30 years, broke her wrist when she slipped on a wet floor outside the Old Millhillian Meeting Room, where she had been speaking to a parent and pupil. 

After the accident, Mrs Shaw, 60, who earned up to £100,000 per year as head of boarding at the London school, needed surgery on her wrist and says she has since developed chronic pain in her right hand, arm, shoulder and back.

Following the surgery, her right hand and wrist were highly sensitive and she couldn’t tolerate them being touched – even by bedding, she says, and claims her ongoing ‘disability’ has ruined her career.

The foundation which runs the school admits primary liability for the accident, but has accused the teacher of ‘exaggerating’ her symptoms to boost her compensation claim, after lawyers for the school produced secret video surveillance evidence allegedly showing her throwing a ball for her dog with her right hand.

The 214-year-old establishment, which counts war correspondent Richard Dimbleby, Dr Who actor Patrick Troughton and Sir Dennis Thatcher among its alumni, is defending a £1.8million lawsuit brought by Mrs Shaw over her fall. 

Lawyers for the school told Central London County Court the video evidence also includes footage of Mrs Shaw driving a Land Rover with both hands on the wheel and carrying her shopping with both hands.

The 214-year-old establishment, which counts war correspondent Richard Dimbleby, Dr Who actor Patrick Troughton and Sir Dennis Thatcher among its alumni, is defending a £1.8million lawsuit brought by Mrs Shaw over her fall

Mrs Shaw stepped down from her job at Mill Hill after her accident, which she says caused her psychological damage as well as arm injuries, and effectively stalled her high-flying career.

She went on to develop chronic regional pain syndrome and depression, which blocked her future career path to becoming a head teacher or senior manager, her lawyers claim.

Although it admits primary liability for the slip, the school foundation disputes the amount of compensation claimed and says Mrs Shaw should have watched where she was putting her feet.

Robert O’Leary, the school’s barrister, said the footage contradicted Mrs Shaw’s claims that her right hand is still badly impacted by her June 2016 fall when she slipped on the floor and landed on her right side and wrist.

The surveillance was carried out ‘over a long period on various occasions’, he explained.

‘We say the video evidence is of a lady going about her day-to-day affairs in a perfectly ordinary way with no evidence of any difficulty whatever using her right limb,’ said Mr O’Leary.

The new evidence suggests Mrs Shaw has ‘exaggerated the extent of her injuries’, he told Judge Richard Roberts in Central London County Court, although her barrister, David White, flatly rejected the accusation.

There was ‘no substance’ to the video footage, which could add £200,000 to the trial’s legal costs, said Mr White, adding that nothing said by Mrs Shaw is inconsistent with the new evidence.

Expert medical reports made clear her symptoms can fluctuate, said the barrister, and in her own evidence Mrs Shaw had explained that ‘if she goes shopping she tries to use her right hand to carry light things’.

Mrs Shaw says she was at the peak of her career before her fall.

School marketing literature published online show that she taught English and was a housemistress at Mill Hill’s Ridgeway House – before being promoted to director of boarding.

Former headmaster Dr Dominic Luckett said of her: ‘Lindsey’s prodigious work ethic helped make her not only an outstanding housemistress but also a superb director of boarding’.

Mrs Shaw’s case has yet to come to trial but reached court as both sides’ barristers clashed over whether the new video material should be allowed to form part of the evidence.

Judge Roberts ruled that the video footage can be deployed at trial.

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