In the Media

Supporting abused Winterbourne View patients

PUBLISHED November 1, 2012

Thursday 01 November 2012 by Catherine Baksi

Who: Andrew Hannam, 54, partner and healthcare litigator at south-west firm Foot Anstey.

Why is he in the news? He represents 17 former residents of Winterbourne View, the private hospital near Bristol where an undercover BBC Panorama documentary exposed poor standards, neglect, bullying and assault by staff on vulnerable adult patients. Hannam has issued civil proceedings for damages on behalf of 15 of his clients.

Eleven of the care workers were sentenced at Bristol Crown Court last week after they had pleaded guilty to maltreating five other patients.

Thoughts on the case: 'The ending of these criminal proceedings will free up a lot of information that may be able to provide evidence for our clients' cases. Only the hour of footage shown in the Panorama programme has been seen so far. All our clients, except one, have legal aid. Getting funding from the Legal Services Commission was not easy, but we have persuaded it that anyone at the hospital has a prima facie case.'

Dealing with the media: 'The media has been good, especially the BBC. I have been in contact with it on an almost weekly basis. What has been a little intrusive is the Panorama follow-up programme, which has been trying to push me to put my clients up for it, when I have advised that it is not in their interests. The focus has been too much on the behaviour of the defendants rather than the impact on the individuals.'

Why become a lawyer? 'I used to be taken to watch Torquay United play football by a family friend who was a solicitor and I was fascinated by the stories from his office. He was a litigator and I suppose I liked the idea of getting involved in people's issues and helping to address them.'

Career high: 'Eighteen months ago I was one of two lead solicitors in a group action by 165 adults with learning disabilities in a case against the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It settled for over £6m.'

Career low: 'At the graveside of a young lad. Only months previously we had settled his cerebral palsy case after nearly four years.'