Josh Normanton and Chris Jenkins successfully defend nurse in the BBC Panorama Whorlton Hall abuse scandal trial

Josh Normanton and Chris Jenkins, instructed by Jennifer Richardson and Shauna Marriott at Blackfords LLP, represented M, a registered nurse facing allegations of ill-treatment and wilful neglect at an 8-week trial before Teesside Crown Court.

The allegations arose out of a covert investigation conducted by BBC Panorama into Whorlton Hall, an independent specialist hospital in County Durham. The investigation resulted in a Panorama ‘exposé’ being broadcast in 2019. M, along with 8 other members of staff, were charged with ill-treating those in her care. Ultimately, because of her status as a registered nurse, M faced a further charge of neglecting a patient in her care.

The trial required the marshalling of hundreds of hours of covert footage and compendious patient records, along with careful cross-examination of the undercover reporter and the executive producer of the Panorama documentary (who also conducted the investigation into Winterbourne View), including about the ethics of their investigation. Following a successful submission of no case to answer, the neglect charge was withdrawn from the jury at the close of the prosecution case. M was unanimously acquitted by the jury of the remaining counts.

The trial was reported nationally and forms part of an ongoing narrative about the adequacy of care provided to the vulnerable in the UK.