Riot unit's £200,000 legal bid

A COUNCIL has lost its legal bid to prevent the bosses of a secure unit from suing the local authority in the Court Of Session.

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Temporary judge Morag Wise, QC, is allowing the managers of St Mary's Kenmure in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, to sue East Dunbartonshire Council over a riot – led by a 16-year-old boy – at the school in March 2008.

It cost £200,000 to repair the damage caused during the nine hours of violence at the centre, which houses some of Scotland's most dangerous and disturbed kids.

The Cora Foundation, which runs the school on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, believes legislation from the 19th century means it is entitled to cash from the local authority.

The Foundation, along with the board of managers at St Mary's, launched an action against East Dunbartonshire Council at the Court Of Session earlier this year. Their legal teams argued the terms of the Riotous Assemblies (Scotland) Act 1822 dictates councils need to provide cash to schools, churches, shops or houses damaged in riots.

But lawyers acting for East Dunbartonshire Council argued the Cora Foundation and the board of managers were interpreting the law incorrectly and that the legislation did not cover children within secure units. They said the legal action should be thrown out.

However, in a written judgement issued at the Court Of Session in Edinburgh, Judge Wise disagreed with the council's position and asked for another hearing to be set at a future date so she could hear more legal arguments.

In August 2008, a 16-year-old – who could not be named for legal reasons – was locked up for four years for his role in the wrecking spree.

He had pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to damaging property, setting fire to clothing and threatening to kill staff at the school.

The court heard riot police had to be called in to quell the disturbance, which broke out over a football row.

Staff had to lock themselves in a room as the 16-year-old led a gang of about 16 inmates – aged 14-16 – in nine hours of violence.

In her judgment, Judge Wise allowed the case to continue on a date yet to be set.

Riot cops had to be called in after violence sparked by a football row

Local government

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