Ten Tors tragedy: the dreadful death of a 14 year old girl

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It is an arduous expedition and I have no intention of undermining the tremendous value of such a character building exercise, but I shall never forget the size of the blisters on his feet and the state of his kit when he returned home.

In Charlotte's case, everything went dreadfully wrong.  The trek, which was organised by the Army, was beset with dreadful weather.  Allegedly pleas were made to cancel the trek, but the decision was made to carry on.  It was subsequently abandoned.

The group were accompanied by teachers from their school, Edgehill College (now called Kingsley School) but it seems that the teachers became lost en route and did not meet up with the group as planned. When the group attempted to cross a stream, Charlotte was swept away. She was located by a Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter 20 minutes later and died in the early hours of the next morning.

A nearby scout leader had attempted to assist the group and it was at his suggestion that they attempted to cross the stream.

Allegations of negligence, incompetence and lack of training were made against Edgehill College and Mr Fuller, the expedition leader.  However, in the High Court on 28 June 2012, Mr Justine Owen cleared Mr Fuller and the school of all blame.  He found that Mr Fuller had given clear instructions that the group should not attempt to cross the stream, and that the failure of two teachers to meet up with the group was not incompetence.

He was of the view that the blame lay with the scout master who, while well intentioned, it was he who suggested that the group cross the stream.  He also assisted them in so doing.

I understand that the scout master has now himself passed away but I am surprised that no allegations appear to have been made against him directly.  Nor were any allegations made against the Army.

In circumstances such as this responsibility may not just lay with the obvious.  At the time of Charlotte's dreadful accident she and the rest of the group were not under the control of the school, nor under the control of Mr Fuller.  They listened to, and followed, the advice provided by a scout leader.  Surely he is culpable in assuming responsibility to the group?  To what extent were the Army responsible in permitting the event to go ahead in such dreadful conditions?

I have not been party to the investigations, but I hope that these questions were asked and that the relevant enquiries were made.

Nothing can bring Charlotte back, but I am sure that her parents will still be seeking answers. 

Deborah Blackmore

Chartered Legal Executive - Personal Injury team 

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