FT not to blame for journalists' suffering

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The Independent Online
FOUR JOURNALISTS have failed in their High Court battle to seek damages for "injuries to their upper limbs" which they claimed they suffered while working as sub-editors at the Financial Times.

Mr Justice Ian Kennedy yesterday ruled in favour of the newspaper in claims brought by Paul Hannon, Philip Little, Patrick Stiles and Akwemajhovi Amosu.

The judge said: "I remain unpersuaded that the plaintiffs have on the balance of probability suffered from the physical problems they variously set out to establish."

The journalists had argued that they suffered biomechanical personal injuries, while the FT had claimed that the problems were psycho-social. In his ruling, the judge made it clear that the case was not about Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), stating: "No doctor has argued that such a syndrome exists ... Each plaintiff has complained of specific musculo-skeletal disorders which are familiar in everyday medical practice."

The plaintiffs had alleged negligence and breach of statutory duty by the newspaper during the latter part of 1988. They had claimed that the newspaper did not create a safe working environment when it introduced new technology in 1987.

Mr Justice Kennedy noted: "The paper, in denying liability, has accepted that these four plaintiffs have indeed suffered pain, albeit its case is that they have not suffered any personal injury, and certainly no injury for which it is answerable."

But the judge held that none of the plaintiffs, who were supported in the case by the National Union of Journalists, had "established a material breach of duty, whether common law or statutory, against the paper, and my judgment must be for the defendant".

After the hearing, Robin Pauley of the Financial Times said: "It confirms that the FT is a prudent and decent employer which was in no way negligent in introducing screen-based technology to the editorial department."

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