Teenager to sue exams board for 'mental distress'

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The Independent Online

A teenager who failed to get a university place because of a blunder during the Scottish exams fiasco two years ago is to sue the examination board for mental distress.

Claire Bowen, who is 18, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, was wrongly told she had failed her best Higher subject, only to be informed months later that her marks had been miscounted and that she had passed. She has been working in a clerical job while waiting for a chance to go on to further education.

The blunder was a result of widespread problems with the Scottish exam system in 2000, blamed on failures at the Scottish Qualifications Authority exam board. Thousands of students had their results delayed or incorrectly recorded, which meant that many missed out on university places.

Ms Bowen's legal action is likely to prompt other students to seek compensation from the board, her lawyers said.

She was a pupil at St David's High School in Dalkeith when she was informed she had failed her Higher exam in music. Although she appealed against the decision, the exam board rejected her protestations and she had to resit the subject in her last school year. However, in May 2001, a week before she was due to sit the second exam, the authority admitted there had been a mistake and that she had indeed passed, with a B grade. The examiners had not counted all her marks for a practical test.

Cameron Fyfe, her solicitor, said: "I don't think there is any doubt that Claire suffered psychological damage from the whole fiasco."He added that the damage to her academic career would form part of the action for compensation, alongside the "distress and anxiety" caused.

Aspokesman for the Scottish Qualifications Authority said: "This is an extremely unfortunate case and it is now in the hands of our lawyers."