Fairweathers team up with 7BR to Provide Pro-bono Inquest Representation for two Families who lost their Babies as part of the East Kent Maternity Scandal

8th March 2021 –

We are delighted to announce that we have managed to arrange Inquest representation for two of the families we represent who tragically lost their babies due to admitted failings at the QEQM Hospital Margate. They are Rachel Higgs and Andrew Batten parents of Archie Batten and Laura Cooke and Vlado Gavrilescu parents of Luchii Gavrilescu. Fairweathers represent a dozen families overall whose children have either died or been left with serious lifelong injuries due to failings in the Maternity Unit at the Hospital and within the wider East Kent Trust.

Liability has been admitted by the Trust for negligently causing the deaths of Archie and of Luchii.

Whilst this is welcome it prevents us from continuing to represent the families at the ongoing Inquest under the Conditional Fee Agreement funding that is in place. The Trust has point blank refused to fund representation for the families, despite the fact that the Trust itself is fully represented by very experienced lawyers, as are the 4 midwives joined as interested parties in Archie’s case.

This left us with a huge dilemma. As a relatively small law firm, with limited resources, representing both families pro bono (free of charge), including not just the preparation for the Inquests but also the advocacy at both hearings, lay beyond our reach and it looked as if we were going to have to withdraw from both Inquests and perhaps ask that the families be excused from having to participate as Litigants In Person.

Then 7BR came to the rescue! The chambers has a long and proud history of pro bono work and here the 2 barristers assisting the families with the civil cases have volunteered their services free of charge for the Inquests without hesitation.

Archie’s parents with be represented by Richard Baker at 7BR assisted by Nick Fairweather and Luchii’s parents by James Robottom assisted by Francesca Beach at Fairweathers.

Archie’s case
Archie’s mum Rachel was dismayed to be sent home from QEQM hospital to progress her labour at home but was assured that she could return to the Maternity Unit at any time once the contractions became unbearable (she felt that they already were and the Trust’s Investigation has suggested that she should not have been sent home). In fact, unbeknownst to her, the Unit had already been placed on ‘divert’ and when she called them two hours later asking to be admitted she was casually told that she would have to get herself to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, a likely hour and a half’s drive away on a hot busy Sunday afternoon in Thanet. She and her family explained that she did not think she would make the journey in time and eventually she was told that a community midwife would come to see her at home. Over the course of five and half hours four midwives were sent to Rachel’s home to provide care. However multiple failings occurred and the midwives did not act upon her failure to progress. When the QEQM was no longer on divert there was a complete breakdown in communication so that the midwives were unaware Rachel could be taken back to Hospital. Rachel was eventually taken back to QEQM giving birth to Archie within 8 minutes of arriving at hospital. Sadly as Archie has been deprived of oxygen during delivery he passed away at just 27 minutes of age.

Luchii’s Case
Laura Cooke and Vlado Gavrilescu lost son Luchii at 6 weeks old following a failure to diagnose and treat his tuberculosis. Luchii was brought to QEQM Hospital twice over four days as a poorly new born, incorrectly diagnosed with bronchiolitis and discharged without treatment. He was brought to hospital for a final time when staff failed to recognise the seriousness of his presenting condition, did not address his subsequent deterioration, failed to involve a senior doctor, delayed the administration of antibiotics and made an unsafe transfer without a stable airway this all resulting in Luchii’s death.

Francesca Beach commented ‘’It is totally unjust that the Trust, having admitted that their negligence caused a death, should not have to fund the necessary Coronial enquiry that explores their failings and enables families to understand what happened to their loved one and why. These families have been through truly horrific ordeals and this arrangement will ensure that they get the most out of the Inquests most especially the answers they need to their outstanding questions. They will now be fully supported throughout the process and not have to face a team of lawyers alone. Like all the families we represent their primary objective is to get to the bottom of what went wrong and seek to ensure that lasting lessons are learned and changes made so that other families do not suffer the same treatment and loss in the future. The Inquests have a key role to play in this as does the Kirkup Review”.

Luchii’s Inquest will take place over eight days in July Archie’s over two weeks most likely in September.

If you or your family need the assistance of an experienced team of Clinical Negligence Solicitors surrounding an inquest or civil claim then please do not hesitate to phone us free on 0800 999 5585, request a call back or submit your case details.