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Fundraiser launched to help pay legal fees of Archway cyclist facing bankruptcy after knocking over woman on phone

PUBLISHED: 14:41 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 21 June 2019

Robert Hazeldean. Picture: Brittany Maher-Kirk

Robert Hazeldean. Picture: Brittany Maher-Kirk

Archant

A £20,000 fundraiser has been launched to help pay the legal fees of an Archway cyclist who knocked over a woman as she crossed a road while on her phone.

Robert Hazeldean and Gemma Brushett were both knocked unconscious after the collision at a busy junction in London Bridge four years ago.

Ms Brushett, 28, sued after suffering damage to her front teeth and facial scars and yesterday she was awarded a payout at Central London County Court, despite judge Shanti Mauger ruling they were equally to blame.

Judge Mauger accepted Mr Hazeldean, then a mental health charity worker, was a "calm and reasonable road user" but ruled that he was liable to pay damages as "cyclists must be prepared at all times for people to behave in unexpected ways."

The court heard the light was green for Mr Hazeldean, who shouted and sounded an air horn but failed to avoid Ms Brushett.

The judge said Ms Brushett could have been sued herself, but only she was entitled to a payout because she had put in a claim and Hazeldean had not.

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Ms Brushett will receive £4,161.79 in compensation and Mr Hazeldean must pay legal fees of up to £100,000 for the two-day hearing.

Now Mr Hazledean's friend Brittany Maher-Kirk has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise £21,300 towards the fees. It has already raised more than £8,500 in less than 24 hours.

Mr Hazeldean, who now lives in the south of France as a garden designer, says he will be left bankrupt by the case, which has taken a "great toll" on his mental health.

In a statement, he added: "I am of course deeply disappointed with the outcome, reeling from the impact it will have on my life, and concerned by the precedent that it might set for other cyclists.

"I can only hope that the focus on this case highlights the vulnerability of cyclists, both physically and against the courts, and that it might help reform a legal system that appears to leave certain road users disproportionately exposed."

Mr Hazeldean's lawyers at Levi Solicitors say they are "strongly resisting" the £100,000 claim and labelled it "a total abuse of process". It will be contested at a third hearing.

Emma Farrell, head of the personal injury team, said; "If Mr Hazeldean had been insured, the claimant's legal costs would have been limited to a mere £6,690.

"If he had come to us sooner, we would have advised him to enter a counterclaim given that he has been left with permanent scarring, both physically and mentally He would then have had protection under the law against a large costs order."

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