Payouts for 10 farm E.coli victims

Romsey Advertiser: Godstone Farm in Surrey was closed after an outbreak of E.coli Godstone Farm in Surrey was closed after an outbreak of E.coli

The 10 children who were worst affected by the Godstone Farm E.coli outbreak have settled their damages claims.

The awards in each case were not revealed at London's High Court today but lawyers Field Fisher Waterhouse said the settlements in respect of the 35 victims they represented - including the 10 - were in excess of £1 million.

The awards, which will be paid by the Surrey farm's insurers, are provisional so the children can return to court for further compensation at any time in the future should their condition deteriorate.

The E.coli 0157 bacteria attacks the kidneys and all 10 youngsters developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), with three of them now having chronic kidney disease.

The judge, Sir Colin Mackay, said all the children, some of whom underwent lengthy dialysis, had endured a "painful and frightening experience", and approved the settlement as sensible and fair.

The children's counsel, Frank Burton QC, told the judge that they were among 50 youngsters who were exposed to the 2009 outbreak - most of whom had only short-lived abdominal cramps.

But each of the 10 suffered a "life-threatening event" and some were left with scarring and a fear of hospitals, doctors and needles.

"However, it is a great tribute to all of them and their parents that they faced these family tragedies with remarkable resilience."

The judge said: "I can't think of anything more ghastly for young children of single-figure age to go through these procedures on a repeated basis. I think the outcome has been remarkable thanks to their courage and that of their parents."

All of the children have a life-long risk - albeit small in some cases - of renal failure in the future, which will require monitoring.

The judge said he hoped it was the end of the road for the families.

"I'm sure it will be but if the worst happens in the future there are things than can be done to help their children."

The outbreak at Godstone, which admitted liability, was the largest as a result of a visit to a petting farm in the UK.

Field Fisher Waterhouse partner Jill Greenfield said later: "The horror of what these children and their families have been through is difficult for anyone to describe. How do you explain to a scared young child why they are having to undergo painful treatments?

"Every parent only ever wants to do the best for their child. I can see that a day out to a farm is for many seen as a chance to get back to nature from the rigours of the city and for children to meet and touch animals. But for a day out to end like this is utterly devastating.

"What angers parents even more is the fact that the farm remained open over the Bank Holiday weekend at a time when there was a level of knowledge that E.coli 0157 was around. How tragic that these young children were allowed to skip into this farm completely oblivious to the danger that awaited."

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