Bristol Evening Post 02/01/2001


MINISTERS have dealt a New Year hammerblow to a St George family in their fight to win compensation after their son was left brain damaged following a routine whooping cough injection as a baby.

Disability minister Hugh Bayley has written to the parents of Matthew Needs telling them his hands are tied and he can't help them in their 25-year battle for justice.

Earlier this year, Mr Bayley agreed to re-open Matthew Needs' case after he was one of just two vaccine "victims" in the country to miss out on a 60 million Government compensation package.

But now Mr Bayley has told them he cannot help as their claim comes too long after Matthew's injuries may have been caused.

Today Ivor Needs vowed to continue his son's fight.

He said: "The minister is saying he can't help us as we are 'out of time' with our claim. But we have been fighting for this compensation for years. There have been some delays over the years, but they have never been our fault.

"At one stage all Matthew's medical records were lost and that brought our case to a standstill. This decision will not stop us in our fight for Matthew. That injection ruined his life before it started and we will not give up now after 25 years."

In a letter to Bristol East MP Jean Corston, who represented the family, MP Hugh Bayley wrote: "In Matthew's case the time limit of six years specified in the legislation for requests to reconsider passed in 1986. The fact that you and others consider wrong decisions were made from when Mr and Mrs Needs first claimed a Vaccine Damage Payment up to 1986 does not mean I can reopen Matthew's case."

Matthew suffered brain damage after he was given the whooping cough vaccine when he was seven months old in 1976. But a medical tribunal in the 1980s ruled that his injuries were not caused by the jab.

The ruling means his parents, Ivor and Enid, were disqualified from this summer's compensation package, under which families of vaccine-damaged children received up to 100,000 each.

Matthew is now 25, but has a mental age of three and suffers from regular fits.  

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