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Equestrian events could be sued by “anyone injured in almost any circumstances”, claims a lawyer, if a compensation ruling is not overturned.

Geoffrey Glaister, 67, was kicked in the head by a runaway horse at Appleby Horse Fair in 2004, causing permanent brain damage, but could be stripped of his right to damages after an appeal.

In March Mr Glaister of Peterlee, County Durham, was awarded the right to compensation from Appleby-in-Westmorland Town Council, by a Middlesbrough County Court judge.

His wife and daughter, Geraldine and Natalie, were also granted the right to a payout after witnessing the incident.

The county court judge ruled that despite not being involved in the fair, the council had failed to ensure the organisers had public liability insurance.

But last Wednesday (25 November) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lawyers for the council argued that the judge, Christopher Storey QC, had placed too high a duty on the council.

“Imposing such a duty would open the floodgates to claims by anyone injured in almost any circumstances at such a fair,” Steven Snowden, for the council, told the judges.

Lawyers for the Glaisters claim the county court judge’s decision should be allowed to stand so they can be compensated.

The court reserved judgment until an unspecified date.

Appleby Horse fair caused controversy in 2007 when a horse drowned.