Former policewoman seeks £1m damages after horse fell on her

Alison Scott was on duty when the incident occured. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Alison Scott was on duty when the incident occured. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

A former mounted policewoman is seeking £1 million damages after she was injured when her horse fell on her as she was on duty at a football match.

Alison Scott is seeking compensation after her right leg was trapped under the animal and she suffered serious injury to her foot and ankle leaving her unfit to return to operational duties as an officer.

She has raised an action against the former Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, following the incident at Hampden Park in Glasgow on March 17 in 2013. The claim is being contested.

In the case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the former Strathclyde police constable maintained that her mount, Tobermory, had a history of behavioural issues, including unpredictability, aggression and falls.

It is said that the fall in which she was injured was the sixth to be suffered by the horse who has since died.

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Mrs Scott, from South Ayrshire, said she was part of a mounted detail taking part in policing at Hampden when her horse kicked out at another police horse next to him striking its hind leg and drawing blood.

She said she later tried to move Tobermory out of the line of horses on duty at the CIS cup final to prevent further incident but as she did so “he suddenly and without warning lost his footing and fell over”.

Tobermory was later sent to a horse welfare centre in Deeside but fell again and required to be put down in 2015.

Mrs Scott, 50, said she was medically retired from her job as a police officer in 2014. It is said she has been unable to return to riding and that prior to the incident she had two horses she rode competitively at show jumping events.

The Chief Constable said she was a trained and experienced rider within the mounted branch and the service fulfilled all its common law duties to her.

A full hearing in the action is set down for three weeks of court time and is due to begin next week but Graham Primrose QC, for the Chief Constable, successfully raised objections to proposed adjustments in pleadings in the case in a legal debate on Wednesday.

Mr Primrose maintained that it was now being said on behalf of Mrs Scott that a post mortem on the horse indicated there was a serious underlying neurological condition.

He said: “It is now being suggested that the horse had something constitutionally wrong with it therefore it ought to have been examined by a vet and should have been taken out of service a long time before the accident to the pursuer.”

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Mr Primrose argued that a new case was being advanced at too late a stage with consequent prejudice for the Chief Constable.

He said it was it was now being advanced that the horse had something wrong with it and fell in a way that was highly unusual and was a sign of some serious underlying condition.

He told Lady Paton: “That is a totally new matter. This is not about a clumsy horse falling over, this is about an ill horse falling over because he had something wrong with him.”

Mr Primrose said that what was now being advanced on behalf of Mrs Scott was “a significant departure from what had previously been said”.

He said the case was originally presented as featuring an aggressive, clumsy horse who should not have been in police service because he fell over so much.

“The basic complaint now is not the horse was clumsy but that it had something wrong with it. This is the same accident but not the same danger,” he told the court.

Geoff Clarke QC, for Mrs Scott, said he had recently consulted with her and told the court: “Whilst the pleadings have many references to bad behaviour, bad temper, biting other horses and whilst these things are not completely irrelevant to the pursuer’s case nor are they reasons for saying that the horse was dangerous.”

“What I took from the pursuer, who was a very experienced horsewoman, was that the behavioural issues she could deal with. What she could not deal with were the sudden falls,” he said.