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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Ledward victims face legal bills
Rodney Ledward
Several women claim they were assaulted by Rodney Ledward
Thirty-seven women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by the disgraced gynaecologist Rodney Ledward have been left with large legal bills.

Mistakes by solicitor Jane Loveday resulted in their High Court bid for compensation collapsing in January.

Many of the women are vulnerable and one tried to commit suicide, a BBC investigation has found.

The Law Society has shut down Ms Loveday's firm and is investigating whether she should be struck off.

At the time of the court case, the judge expressed "enormous concern" over her conduct.

The matter was passed on to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors at the Law Society.

Although Ms Loveday represented 59 women, 22 of them will not be billed because they were on legal aid.

However Ms Loveday herself was paid more than 400,000 of public money in legal aid.

Legal Bills

Several women who believed they would not receive legal bills are in reality facing substantial costs, and some fear they may lose their homes, BBC Radio 4's PM correspondent Andrew Bomford said.

One woman, left with permanent pain and discomfort from a botched operation, received a bill for more than 14,000.

She said: "I thought it was a no-win no-fee case. I really did.

"I asked her a load of questions about what happens if... and I said I am on no-win no-fee aren't I? It got sort of sidelined.

"I was very naive."

Several women claimed they were assaulted by Rodney Ledward in Kent hospitals over a 15-year period.

The allegations only came to light in July 2001, nine months after the 62-year-old's death.

Bungling operations

He had already been struck off by the General Medical Council after being found guilty of bungling 13 operations.

Ms Loveday, who was based in Cornwall, later contacted the women who had allegedly been sexually assaulted by Ledward but the case she put together collapsed.

During the hearing, claims were made that one statement was redrafted and another woman's name remained on the claimants' list - in both cases against the clients' wishes.

Another woman, represented by Ms Loveday, later received a bill for almost 12,000 from the solicitors for the NHS.

She now fears that she could lose her home.

"I still suffer now from what Ledward did to me and I'm going to suffer for the rest of my life," she added.

"But what she has done to me as well now is going to take even longer to put at the back of my mind.

"All our records about the things that have been done are personal to us and she has dragged all that up out of us for nothing."




SEE ALSO:
Surgeon sex assault case halted
08 Jan 04  |  Health
Widower settles in Ledward case
12 Feb 02  |  England
The Rodney Ledward interview
08 Jun 00  |  Health


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