Na lange onderhandelingen heeft de Britse vakbond Equity een grote vergoeding bedongen voor de toneelmeester Rachel Presdee. Zij liep een dwarslaesie op. Het was een volledig te voorkomen fout in de naleving van de veiligheidsprocedures door het Soho Theater.

 Paralysed stage manager Rachael Presdee awarded £3.7m compensation

15 December 2014
By: Matthew Hemley in thestage.co.uk



Rachael Presdee, who was left paralysed after an accident at the Soho Theatre.  Photo: Georgia Snow/The Stage


Stage manager Rachael Presdee, who was left paralysed after an accident at the Soho Theatre in 2012, has been awarded £3.7 million in compensation.

The money was secured by union Equity, and is the biggest settlement in its history.

Equity also claimed the payout could be one of the biggest ever in the UK entertainment sector.

Presdee was stage manager on Headlong Theatre company’s production of Boys in 2012 at the Soho Theatre when she fell through an unguarded backstage door, and dropped three metres on to the open stage below. It left her with serious and permanent injury to her spine, and means she has to use a wheelchair.

The compensation was secured on December 3 in an out of court settlement.

Separately, Soho Theatre – which was prosecuted by Westminster City Council for breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act – will be sentenced on December 15 at Southwark Crown Court.

Presdee, who now lives in Australia, said she could “not have imagined when I walked into work on 9 June 2012 that I would never walk out of there, or walk anywhere else again”.

“The impact of my injury can be seen by the level of compensation required to cover the cost of carers for me, future needs including specially adapted home and equipment, and loss of a lifetime’s earnings,” she said, adding: “I am immensely grateful for the support I received from Equity throughout this whole process, and take this opportunity to urge all theatre operators to please ensure that safety risks, no matter how seemingly big or small, are properly managed so that no other theatre worker has their life so catastrophically altered by something which could have been so easily prevented by simple, cheap and obvious steps.”

Equity general secretary Christine Payne described it as an “appalling accident which should never have happened”.

“I am in awe of Rachael’s good humour and strength in the face of it,” she said.

Presdee had not worked at the theatre before the accident occurred. She was preparing for a matinee and went up a set of spiral stairs to find a theatre employee who could locate the stage lights control.

She went through a standard, unmarked door, which had no warning signs or notices. When she opened the door she was met with a black curtain, which she assumed was a light blocker. She went in what she thought was a room but stepped into open air above the stage.

Responding to the settlement, Soho Theatre said the “board, directors and staff of Soho Theatre deeply regret the accident involving Rachael Presdee in June 2012”.

“We have done as much as we can to ensure that Rachael received the best possible care after the accident and we are relieved for her that her civil claim has now been settled. Since 2012 all of our internal processes have been thoroughly and rigorously reviewed by our management team, our board and by external, expert health and safety consultants,” it said in a statement, adding: “As there are ongoing legal proceedings it is inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this stage.”

The compensation is a combination of money from the insurance companies of both Soho Theatre and Headlong.

A spokeswoman for Headlong said: We are very pleased that Rachel has finally got an award which will help make her life somewhat easier but it is with enormous regret that the accident ever happened. Rachel is still a big part of the Headlong family and her strength and humour have been a huge inspiration to us all.”