Woodward flies home as Eappens sue

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FACING A vigorous civil lawsuit and her name tainted for the rest of her life by a conviction of manslaughter, Britain's most famous au pair abroad, Louise Woodward, is due to arrive back at her home village of Elton, Cheshire, today.

She was travelling to Britain overnight on a British Airways flight and will face the world's press when she arrives at Manchester airport this morning.

At Logan airport in Boston, Woodward was ushered through to a private lounge where she shook hands with the British Airways chairman, Sir Colin Marshall. Asked whether BA was paying for her first-class seat, Sir Colin said: "I am not in a position to disclose that."

He went on: "We are not involved in this at all. We are just helping her on her way home."

Woodward was able to leave after collecting her passport from the court, the only remaining obstacle to her departure from Boston following the court decision to downgrade the original conviction of second degree murder to manslaughter and to sentence her to the 279 days she had already served in prison. However, she faces fresh legal troubles from the parents of Matthew Eappen, the child she is convicted of killing. As she headed for the airport, proceedings began in a federal court house in a civil damages lawsuit filed against her by Deborah and Sunil Eappen.

The court granted a temporary injunction to bar Woodward from selling her story in the next 12 days and preventing her from spending the profits of any deals in the United States.

The wider suit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages from her which could amount to tens of millions of dollars. Imposing any civil damages against Woodward once she is on British soil could be problematic, however.

"The purpose of this lawsuit is to ensure that Louise Woodward does not become a millionaire because she killed an eight-month-old baby,"said Fredric Ellis, a lawyer for the Eappens.

Elton waits, page 5

Max Clifford, Review, page 4