Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Tomato stunt costs council £24,000

Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers injured Belfast City Council employee Lorraine Mallon in the jump attempt

A former city mayor is ruing an expensive slip-up after his failure to vault a giant human tomato cost his council £24,000.

Jim Rodgers accidentally kicked Belfast City Council employee Lorraine Mallon in the head in a publicity stunt which went spectacularly wrong.

Ms Mallon, who was dressed up as the huge fruit for a photo shoot to promote a gourmet food fair, suffered a slipped disc in the ill-fated leap.

She brought a negligence case against the council and a settlement was reached this week in Belfast High Court.

She has been paid £24,021.75 with the council also agreeing to cover the cost of the action.

Egged on by press photographers, Mr Rodgers tried to jump over her but he slipped on wet grass on his run up and ended up kneeing her in the back of the head.

The Ulster Unionist councillor said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the outcome of the case. But at the time of the incident in September 2007 the red-faced first citizen apologised for his stumble.

"I have been absolutely devastated over what has happened," he said. "There had been three false runs and I think Lorraine thought this was just another one. I just caught the top of her head and unfortunately I injured her."

Mr Rodgers said he was confident he would have been able to make the jump if he hadn't slipped, adding: "I'm very fit and look after myself, but it was just one of those unfortunate things."

A council spokeswoman confirmed a settlement had been reached.

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