Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Former Cookham Wood inmate wins cancer damages case

A woman who developed breast cancer in prison has won a High Court negligence claim after medical staff failed to diagnose the disease.

Cheryl Carter, 34, of Brixton, south London, sued the Ministry of Justice over treatment she received while at Cookham Wood prison in Kent in 2005.

She said she had complained of a lump on her breast three times but was never referred for specialist treatment.

A hearing into the level of damages will be held at a later date.

Ms Carter said she consulted a prison medical officer three times, in March, April and May 2005, about a lump on her right breast.

Her counsel Paula Sparks said had Ms Carter been referred for specialist treatment, she would have been given a better prognosis than the one she received after being referred by her GP in November 2005 following her release.

The sooner this matter is resolved from her point of view the better
Sir Christopher Holland

The judge, Sir Christopher Holland, said there was no reason not to regard Ms Carter as a potentially truthful, reliable witness whose character had matured as a result of the trauma she had been through.

The judge said he would encourage settlement of the action, given the cost to the public purse and Ms Carter's precarious state of health.

"The sooner this matter is resolved from her point of view the better," he said.

The judge refused the Ministry of Justice permission to appeal, although it can renew its application before the Court of Appeal.

After the hearing, a prison service spokesperson said: "The Ministry of Justice sought to defend the matter, however, the court found in the former prisoner's favour with regard to breach of duty and refused permission for the Ministry of Justice to appeal.

"Causation has yet to be determined and the case continues."

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