Retford: A businessman was shocked to learn a former friend is suing him after losing three fingers in a wood chipper accident

James Ford, who lost three fingers in a wood chipper accident, outside High Court.
James Ford, who lost three fingers in a wood chipper accident, outside High Court.

A Retford businessman has told of his anger at learning he was being sued by a former friend who lost three fingers in a horrific wood chipper accident at his home.

James Silverstone is facing a six-figure damages claim at the High Court from former pal James Ford, 39, of St Leonard’s Drive, Chesterfield.

Mr Ford had been helping Mr Silverstone clear vegetation from the grounds of his home, but was working alone there when he lost the digits.

In his court case, he claims Mr Silverstone, of Station Road, Sutton-cum-Lound, did not show him how to use the machine properly.

He says he was left screaming in agony when he suffered the amputations while unblocking the machine without turning it off in May 2011.

However, Mr Silverstone insists that he didn’t show Mr Ford how to unblock the machine because he did not want him to use it.

He told Judge Nigel Wilkinson QC of his ‘anger’ and ‘upset’ at learning he was being sued.

“I was a little bit angry,” he told London’s High Court.

“I was actually upset as well. I think first I rang him and said ‘what the hell? What is all this about?’”

The next thing he heard from his former friend was a message informing him to contact a solicitor - and that was the end of the friendship.

Mr Silverstone said: “He took me off Facebook, never called, never texted, nothing.”

“It was the complete end of the relationship. He wouldn’t respond to any of my calls.”

Mr Silverstone said he had received a call from Mr Ford, who worked in the building industry, when the accident happened and rushed to be with him at hospital.

Far from blaming him, Mr Ford had been sheepish about what had happened, he told the court.

He said: “I think he knew and he was quite embarrassed at what he had done.”

Mr Ford’s claim is based on an allegation that the way Mr Silverstone showed him to use the wood chipper was a ‘gross misuse’ of the dangerous machine.

However, contesting the claim, Mr Silverstone says he gave him no instructions because he did not intend the machine to be used at all when he was not there.

On a previous occasion, when they had worked alongside each other, Mr Silverstone alone had been operating the chipper, he claims.

The hearing continues.