Corby Families

Bell Yard supported the Corby families and their lawyer, Des Collins, with the announcement of the conclusion of their long-running legal battle with Corby Borough Council over what has been described as the biggest child poisoning case since the thalidomide scandal of the 1960s and 70s.

Collins Solicitors was representing the 19 children who suffered birth defects that their families’ claimed were due to the toxic dust their mothers ingested during Corby Borough Council’s redevelopment of the old British Steel site in Corby. Bell Yard devised an “A” and “B” strategy in preparation for a constructive mediation or otherwise.

In the event, the mediation was successful. The families finally received compensation and an apology from the Council and the prospect of further prolonged and expensive litigation was stayed.

Bell Yard developed messaging documents for the families and their lawyers to set an appropriate tone for media interviews. It was agreed that the main point to emphasize was the families’ relief that the validity of their case had finally been recognized. Furthermore it was important to convey that their long fight had been more over the principle than securing financial recompense.

On the day of the settlement, Bell Yard organized a press briefing in Corby for local media, complete with a congratulatory message to the families from US activist lawyer Erin Brockovich, given the similarities between her well-known case and this. Local print, online, radio and tv news led heavily with the settlement story that evening and included interviews with some of the families, their lawyer and footage of the jubilatory gesture of releasing balloons to mark the end of this protracted case.

Nationally, the challenge was to secure coverage for the families’ good news, despite media preoccupation with election and volcanic ash stories. It made the BBC 5 o’clock tv news and national radio news and every national paper (bar the FT) ran items the next day.

Lawyer Des Collins was also quoted on The Lawyer’s website about Lord Jackson’s legal proposals potentially endangering this type of group action litigation. And his colleague Danielle was “lawyer in the news” in Law Society Gazette magazine.

Bell Yard helped ensure that the end of this landmark legal case achieved the attention it deserved.


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M: Melanie Riley, Director: +44 (0) 7775 591244