University of Bristol requests permission to appeal the Natasha Abrahart ruling
Last month a court found that disability discrimination by the University of Bristol led to the suicide of Natasha Abrahart
The University of Bristol has requested permission to appeal the ruling that found it had discriminated against disabled student Natasha Abrahart and that its actions had led to her tragic death.
Natasha’s parents received details of the appeal request earlier today, with her father Bob commenting: “I was shocked by the size of it. I was expecting a couple of key points, not six pages of stuff. They still do not seem to understand the Equality Act.”
A spokesperson for the University of Bristol said the uni has not actually decided whether it will appeal the decision although they didn’t rule it out.
20-year-old physics student Natasha Abrahart died by suicide in April 2018. Natasha had intense social anxiety and was found dead on the day she was meant to give a presentation in front of her classmates.
Just last month, her parents, Bob and Margaret, won a legal case with the judge finding the university had discriminated against Natasha under the Equality Act, with the institutions actions leading to her death.
Judge Ralton told Bristol County Court: “It was accepted by the medical experts that the primary stressor and cause of Natasha’s depressive illness was oral assessment.”
While the university “floated” ideas for how Natasha’s assessment was conducted, the judge said that “none were implemented.”
Ralton found that Natasha’s suffering was “serious” and “continuous” and ordered the university to pay the Abraharts 50k as well as 93 per cent of their legal costs.
Following the ruling, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol announced they were considering appealing the decision.
“The bit that really bugs me,” Bob told The Tab. “The bit that hurts, is that they haven’t even said they’re sorry. They put Natasha through six months of hell. They destroyed her. She was a fighter and she would have kept going and look what happened! They don’t even have the humanity to actually own up and say ‘we’re really sorry for what we did to her’. How can they sleep at night?”
Today at 4pm was the deadline by which the University of Bristol had to request permission to appeal the ruling. Although the university has now requested permission, this does not necessarily mean they will appeal, but it does buy them more time to decide on its next course of action.
A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “Given the significant impact last month’s judgement in relation to the death of Natasha Abrahart could have on how all higher education providers support their students, we continue to review the decision carefully, including whether to appeal.
“Today’s deadline concerns a procedural step requesting permission to appeal. Having permission to appeal is a pre-condition to submitting any potential future appeal. By obtaining permission it means we can appeal if we eventually decide to do so. This application will not involve any detailed information, factual or legal submissions.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58. You matter.
A list of wellbeing services available to Bristol students can be found here.
Featured image: SWNS