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Birth Defect Victims Win 'Toxic Soup' Case
Sky News
July 29,2009

A group who blame their disabilities on their mothers' exposure to toxic materials have won their case against the council they hold accountable.

Corby Borough Council has been found liable of releasing toxic materials from its British Steel Plant which could have contributed to 18 children's disabilities.

Mr Justice Akenhead told the court that it was possible that toxic dust released from the plant between 1983 and 1997 could have got into private homes in Corby.

He noted that the chemicals could have been inhaled by pregnant women and caused birth defects.

He said: "Corby Borough Council is liable in public nuisance, negligence and breach of statutory duty, obviously subject to it being established in later proceedings by individual claimants that their particular conditions were actually caused by the defaults identified in this judgment."

The London High Court ruling is the first time that a court has judged that the plant's materials could have caused the serious birth defects.

Speaking after the decision, the children's lawyer Des Collins said: "Prior to the trial, the council maintained that a thorough investigation had led it to the conclusion that there was no link between the reclamation work and the children's birth defects.

"It also maintained that, had any convincing evidence been shown that the children had good claims, then the council would have wanted to compensate them appropriately without going to trial.

"Today that link has been established and the evidence provided.

"The children now call upon the council to fulfil their pre-trial promises without delay."

Corby Borough Council said it was disappointed with the result but would now consider its position carefully.

Corby Council: 'We Still See No Link'

Chief executive Chris Mallender said: "Our position has always been that there was no link between the reclamation work that was carried out in Corby in past decades and these children's birth defects. That is still our position."

He said the council recognised mistakes were made and accepted some of the criticism.

Mr Justice Akenhead said that his ruling on liability did not cover the two youngest claimants.

The question of causation will be decided at a later date.