Poet Sissay to face council in high court

Lemn Sissay is taking Wigan Council to court and proceedings have been issued. Photo by Aida Muluneh
Lemn Sissay is taking Wigan Council to court and proceedings have been issued. Photo by Aida Muluneh

An acclaimed poet and broadcaster brought up in the borough will face Wigan Council in court over his treatment in the care system.

Civil proceedings have now been officially issued with writer and radio presenter Lemn Sissay as the claimant and the local authority as the defendant.

Mr Sissay posted on his Facebook page the confirmation that the case has been lodged in the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division.

However, the Wigan Post understands that it could be some time before the proceedings actually reach a courtroom as there are a number of legal processes to go through.

Wigan Council has acknowledged it may end up facing Mr Sissay, who was firstly fostered in Atherton and then spent his teenage years in the care of the state, in one of the top seats of justice in the land.

A spokesman for the town hall said: “We can confirm that a claim has been brought against us in connection with historical allegations. Unfortunately we have been unable to resolve this case outside of court.

“It is important that we treat all cases fairly and equally and will deal with this claim accordingly.”

Mr Sissay has spoken for several years of his desire to see the authorities held to account for the treatment he says he received during his formative years.

He spent 10 months as a teenager at the now-infamous Wood End facility in Atherton and has spoken of a harsh regime being run there similar to a prison.

He was also given a new name by a social worker when he was very young.

His writings, which have made him one of Britain’s best-known literary names, have also regularly tackled issues around his own identity and sense of belonging.