Journalist wins compensation for RSI: Out-of-court settlement of pounds 11,371 follows judge's ruling that strain injury does not exist

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THE National Union of Journalists was yesterday celebrating an award of pounds 11,371 compensation for repetitive strain injury, achieved 24 hours after the High Court ruled that the condition did not exist.

An out-of-court settlement in favour of Sarah Munson, a former sub-editor on the Portsmouth News, was agreed on Friday despite the High Court ruling of Judge John Prosser that RSI 'had no place in the medical dictionary'. The union said it was the third RSI claim to be settled out of court while there were 70 further cases in the pipeline, 23 at the Financial Times alone.

Ms Munson, whose work was concentrated on an electronic keyboard, was diagnosed as suffering from RSI in 1991 with the condition being confirmed by the company doctor. She was sacked after taking six months' sick leave.

Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers agreed to pay Ms Munson pounds 10,000 plus pounds 1,371 to cover the benefit she has received since the dismissal. This amount will be paid back to the Department of Social Security. 'I am extremely happy with the outcome. I have avoided a court case and won some compensation,' Ms Munson said.

The NUJ's first out-of-court settlement also involved Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers and was in favour of Paul Allonby, formerly of the Sunderland Echo. The second was against International Thomson Magazines.

Tim Gopsill, the union's health and safety officer, said: 'These are responsible companies. They don't throw money away.'

An appeal is being considered in the case of Rafiq Mughal, 44, who worked for the Reuters news agency, and was the journalist involved in Thursday's High Court verdict. Mr Mughal had turned down a pounds 20,000 out-of-court settlement.

Other unions have also warned of impending claims for workers involved in repetitive work, not just those using computer keyboards.

The GMB general union has 1,100 cases outstanding, while out-of- court settlements have been obtained against British Telecom. In July, six Bernard Matthews turkey workers from Norfolk won test case victories at Norwich County Court with a total value of pounds 21,000.