Family sues over alleged MMR link to autism

Tue 24 Jan 2006

A SCOTS family will launch a multi-million-pound lawsuit at the High Court
in London today, claiming the MMR vaccine was responsible for causing
autism in their child.

The test case, which could open the floodgates to hundreds of similar
actions, is set to reignite the fierce debate over the safety of the mumps,
measles and rubella jab.

The family, from Glasgow, is among nine suing the government in a joint
action. They cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Legal experts said that if the challenge is successful, each child could
receive 5 million in compensation.

The parents are seeking a judicial review at the Court of Appeal over a
decision by the Legal Services Commission to withdraw legal aid. Denied
financial assistance, they have been forced to bring the case to court

Arguments over the triple vaccine have divided families and even elements
of the medical fraternity, both at home and abroad.

Dr Andrew Wakefield first spoke of the possible link between autism and MMR
back in 1998, but since then several studies have concluded that the jab is
not linked to such disorders.

Jackie Fletcher, the founder of JABS, a "support group for vaccine-damaged
children", has campaigned for more than a decade on behalf of hundreds of
families affected by autism.

She said today's case was a final attempt to access justice for children in
the UK courts. If unsuccessful, the parents will go to the European Court
of Human Rights, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health insisted MMR was safe and urged
parents to have their children vaccinated.

Related topics
 * MMR vaccine 
* Autism

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Last updated: 24-Jan-06 00:31 GMT