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From: TSS ()
Subject: Row revealed over vCJD compensation scheme
Date: February 10, 2006 at 5:11 pm PST

Row revealed over vCJD compensation scheme

∑ Documents tell of official concern over legal fees
∑ Lawyers blame DoH for complexity of scheme

David Leigh and James Meikle
Saturday February 11, 2006
The Guardian

The Department of Health has written to a leading City law firm accusing it of misleading the families of victims of CJD over £3m in legal fees it has charged for running the government's compensation scheme.
Commercial lawyers Charles Russell told families in 2004 that the DoH had not expressed any concern about fees, but documents obtained by the Guardian reveal the department then accused the firm of sending "highly misleading" letters to families of human victims of the disease. "Contrary to what is said in your own letter to the families, the department has most definitely expressed concern about the high level of costs ... Your treatment of all these matters ... seems highly misleading," officials wrote.

The vCJD trust fund was set up in 2001 after a long campaign by families, with up to £67m available to distribute. It was hoped the scheme would sidestep the need for lawyers, and to be more generous than the courts in awarding cash for the psychiatric distress of relatives.

High court judge Sir Robert Owen chaired a board of trustees, which gave Charles Russell the job of administering payments. Rather than fixed awards, the families wanted to make awards "on merit".

One source close to the trust yesterday blamed health department lawyers for the outcome: "We were handed down a document which was incredibly difficult to work with. It was filled with legal gobbledygook."

Before the trust was set up, almost £13m was paid out in interim awards. Since Charles Russell began to administer the full scheme, a further £18m has been paid out. The accounts show that overall legal and administrative costs are running at about 27%. Around half of this is payments to families' own lawyers, leaving 16% as Charles Russell's share.

When BBC Newsnight ran an item last year airing criticisms, Charles Russell circulated a letter to all the families saying: "The substantial legal costs [are] caused by the complexity of the scheme." This provoked health department lawyers to protest: "This is most certainly not a view shared by the department." They had discussed concerns about the "very high administration costs" on several occasions but had never made them public "to avoid any possible wider loss of confidence". Yesterday, Richard Vallance, senior partner at Charles Russell, said: "When we took on the secretariat we didn't think it was going to involve such a great deal of work." He said the health department lawyers who wrote criticising them were responsible for setting up the complex scheme.

According to documents obtained by the Guardian, at one point the then health secretary, John Reid, was briefed to, in his words, "bollock lawyers for delay and fees". But he changed his mind after listening to the trustees, who complained the problem arose from his officials setting up an "over-complicated" trust fund.

Mr Reid then shifted his position, appearing in the transcript to suggest recriminations were the fault of victims' families making too many claims. He said the discretionary nature of the fund was "encouraging an endless number of victims".

He said: "170 claimants all with relatives, all told that they will get extra and of course you get everyone claiming for this. Lawyers are encouraging them. Whoever drew up the scheme no doubt had legal expertise but little common sense."

Yesterday families reacted with anger to Mr Reid's remarks. Annie McVey, whose daughter Claire died, aged 15, in 2000, said: "This is worse than Yes, Minister and not as funny. It is an appalling state of affairs. Is confirms what we know - that there is contempt for the families and we are a nuisance. We were given compensation to make the Conservatives look bad and them to look good. Now we have outlived our usefulness."

Janet Gibbs, chair of the Human BSE Foundation, to which many families belong, said Mr Reid's remarks were "insulting".


Stephen Churchill, 19, was the first to die from "human BSE" in May 1995, more than 11 years after the first known BSE case in cattle. Scientists established a probable link between the cattle and human diseases via food in March 1996, by which time 10 people had died. Tony Blair announced an official inquiry which in 2000 censured a "team failure" to recognise the risk from variant CJD. Twenty-eight people died in Britain in 2000, but deaths gradually declined. Last year there were five and in 2006 there has been one. In all, 154 people in Britain have died.,,1707507,00.html

the buck stopped there, that's for sure, they said this will go nooooooooooooo further.

no more payout. what did they say many many moons ago;

3. Prof. A. Robertson gave a brief account of BSE. The US approach
was to accord it a _very low profile indeed_. Dr. A Thiermann showed
the picture in the ''Independent'' with cattle being incinerated and thought
this was a fanatical incident to be _avoided_ in the US _at all costs_...


and the rest is history ;

but, science has eventually caught up ;

HUMAN and ANIMAL TSE Classifications i.e. mad cow disease and the UKBSEnvCJD only theory - TSS 1/29/06 (0)


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