Mum vows to take MMR case to Europe

‘I’ll fight like fury’ until justice done, says parent

Published: 04/08/2008

An exasperated mother fighting to prove the MMR vaccine triggered her daughter’s health problems has vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Wendy Stephen, of Carron Terrace, Stonehaven, has been battling to prove her theory for around eight years but was refused legal aid to try to take vaccine manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline to court.

Mrs Stephen refuses to be deterred and says she will “fight like fury” until justice is done.

The process started in 1991 when her daughter Katie, now 17, became ill and suffered fever after she was administered an early form of the MMR vaccine as a toddler.

Katie is now deaf in her left ear, a condition her family believe is directly linked to the vaccine which contained the Urabe form of mumps virus.

It was withdrawn in 1992 amid concerns over its long-term effects.

The family joined a group litigation against the drug manufacturer in 2001, but eventually Mrs Stephen lodged a complaint against the solicitors after becoming frustrated at the lack of progress in their case.

Last month the family was awarded compensation after the Law Society in England upheld five of the family’s eight grievances against the solicitors.

Last year it emerged government officials knew of health risks linked to MMR vaccines containing the Urabe strain of mumps, but kept them from the public.

Earlier this year Mrs Stephen discovered vital medical files including thousands of letters, patient notes and internal memos were destroyed by health bosses after she requested access to them under the Freedom of Information act.

Now Mrs Stephen, a former psychiatric nurse, says the European court is the only way to further her case against GlaxoSmithKline even though she was refused legal aid for the action on the grounds not enough children were affected.

She said: “I still believe Katie has a claim against the vaccine manufacturer for negligence and I think it’s a disgrace she was refused legal aid given four eminent practitioners’ support for her case.

“My next step is the European Court of Human Rights, and I will continue to fight like fury for my daughter, even if it means going to Strasbourg.

“I’m not going to let it rest,” she said.

A GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman said that it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases that were subject to legal proceedings.