The National Trust was not to blame for the death of an 11-year-old schoolboy fatally crushed by a branch in woods in Norfolk, the High Court has decided.

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The judge rejected the claim that the trust's tree inspectors failed to exercise reasonable care in their task.

"I regretfully conclude that I cannot find that the defendant was negligent or in breach of its duty in respect of this tragedy."

Lawyers argued that the tragedy would have been averted had inspectors spotted a defect in the ancient beech tree and "tagged" it for remedial action.

Cruellest coincidence

Mr Justice Mackay said the decision that no action was needed in the event proved "wrong and disastrous consequences followed".

Ruling in favour of the National Trust, the judge said it was "the cruellest coincidence" that the branch just happened to fall just as the school party passed beneath it.

Even the most careful risk assessment can "by its very nature be proved wrong by events", the judge said.