Woman abused by foster parents wins 'landmark' Supreme Court case against Notts County Council

The Supreme Court ruled in Ms Armes favour yesterday.
The Supreme Court ruled in Ms Armes favour yesterday.

A woman physically and sexually abused by her foster parents as a child in Nottinghamshire has won a 'landmark' Supreme Court case.

Natasha Armes was placed in the care of Nottinghamshire County Council during the 1980s. She was under the care of two sets of foster parents - Mr and Mrs Allison between March 1985 and March 1986 and Mr and Mrs Blakely, between October 1987 and February 1988.

Her solicitors Uppal Taylor said during her time with the foster parents, she was physically abused by Mrs Glenys Allison and sexually abused by Mr Mark Blakely.

Natasha Armes had claimed that Nottinghamshire County Council were liable for the abuse by her foster parents, and yesterday (Wednesday), the Supreme Court ruled in her favour.

In their ruling, the four justices found that the local authority was "vicariously liable for the abuse committed by the foster parents" but rejected the argument that the local authority were "liable on the basis of a non-delegable duty".

In a statement, Uppal Taylor said: "The long-awaited judgement found that local authorities are vicariously liable for the actions of foster parents.

"The judgement means that claimants who have been abused in a foster care placement by their foster parents have now been provided further and clear clarity as to the imposition of vicarious liability."

Ms Armes is now in line for a major damages payout.

Responding to the judgement, Colin Pettigrew, corporate director for Children and Families at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “It is dreadful when a child in our care is abused as our priority is always their safety and wellbeing.

“Abuse of children is never acceptable whenever it occurs and we fully support that the perpetrators of abuse should be brought to justice and held to account and that the victims and survivors of abuse are supported.

"Ms Armes should have been safe in the care of her foster carers 30 years ago and she wasn’t, this is a matter of huge regret to us.

“We, of course, accept the findings of the Supreme Court and will be working with Ms Armes' representatives to resolve any outstanding issues related to our liability. This Supreme Court determination will have far-reaching implications for us and every other local authority across the land which has children’s social care responsibilities.

"The Judge in this case, at an earlier hearing, found that there had been no negligence on the part of either the social workers involved or the local authority and that we had not been negligent in the assessment, approval, monitoring or supervision of the foster placements and this was also acknowledged by the Supreme Court.”