Sub-editor takes mental breakdown claim to Appeal Court

The case of a veteran sub-editor who claims pressure of work on the Grimsby Evening Telegraph triggered a mental breakdown moved to London’s Appeal Court this week.

Barry James Green, who joined the paper as a 17-year-old junior reporter in 1958, claims his bosses on Grimsby and Scunthorpe Newspapers should have spotted the signs of his impending psychiatric problems and done more to support him.

The damages claim against the company by Green, who retired from his job as features sub-editor on medical grounds in February 2001, was dismissed by a county court judge in March this year.

Green is challenging that decision.

The company, which is part of Northcliffe, claims Green was under no greater pressure than anyone else on its staff and that it was not “reasonably foreseeable” that he would suffer a mental breakdown.

Green’s counsel, Julian Matthews, told the court there was no dispute that Green had been a meticulous and highly thought of member of staff who set himself very high standards.

Matthews claimed that the county court judge had “erred in law” when dismissing Green’s damages claim in March and the “only appropriate conclusion” was that the newspaper should be held legally liable for his mental breakdown.

Richard Swain, for the newspaper company, argued that the judge “applied the correct test” when ruling that Green’s employers could not have reasonably foreseen he would suffer psychiatric injury. The paper argues that Green was under no less stress than anyone else and that there were no outward signs of his condition.

Lord Phillips, who headed the court, reserved judgment.

By Roger Pearson

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