Cerebral palsy man wins action

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The Independent Online
A MAN whose intelligence has been locked inside his useless body since his birth 25 years ago won a High Court negligence action against a health authority today.

Daniel Leech, of Badgeworth, Cheltenham, cannot speak, is wheelchair- bound and has no useful movements of his arms because of the cerebral palsy that developed after he was born at Cheltenham maternity hospital. His only means of communication is by a foot-operated computer and speech synthesiser.

But Mr Leech's high intelligence remains in tact, his QC John Grace told Mr Justice Buckley in London.

The judge, ruling on liability, found that a breach of duty by Gloucestershire Health Authority was to blame for Mr Leech's plight. Severe oxygen starvation, which arose 15-20 minutes before Mr Leech's birth by Caesarean section, was caused by an "ill-advised" attempt at delivery by forceps after a labour that had run for too long.

Afterwards, a smiling Mr Leech, accompanied by his parents, Ian, 56, and Janet, 52, issued a statement saying that the three-and-a-half years of litigation had been a great strain.

"Hopefully, I can now live the rest of my life in as normal a way as possible," he said.