Whistleblowers: Secret tape admissible in personal injury case

February 21, 2003

One of Britain's most senior judges has ruled that Warwick University can use a secretly recorded videotape of a former employee to defend itself against her £135,000 claim for personal injury, even though the recording was "improperly" obtained.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said that a private investigator working for the university's insurers trespassed into the home of former Warwick employee Jean Jones, when he twice gained entry by falsely posing as a market researcher in 1999 and 2000. He also breached her right to privacy under the Human Rights Act when he secretly videotaped her in a bid to prove she was not as badly injured as she claimed.

But in a ruling this month Lord Woolf said that although the intrusion was "not justified", the tape could be used by Warwick to defend itself against Ms Jones' personal injury claim, as it was in the public interest to ensure that the court had all the evidence available.

Ms Jones, 64, worked in the university's campus supermarket when she injured her wrist in an accident with a cash register in 1997. The university admitted liability, but it disputes that she remains disabled. A spokesman for Warwick said the university had not had any involvement in the case for six years and it had left it in the hands of the insurer.

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