£5.75m payout for birth blunder

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The Independent Online

A boy who was starved of oxygen at birth was awarded £5.75m damages by the High Court yesterday.

The payout to Matthew King, now aged eight, is believed to be the highest award agreed for cerebral palsy.

South Kent Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability for Matthew's injuries in August 1998 but the valuation of his claim was deferred until his seventh birthday so his needs could be properly assessed.

Matthew, who was born at Buckland Hospital, Dover, Kent, in November 1995, had some of the most severe physical disabilities seen in such cases, said the judge, Mrs Justice Cox.

He lives with his parents, Robert and Ruth, in London, and will need supervision in every aspect of his daily life, but is intellectually unimpaired and has a high life expectancy.

Mrs Justice Cox told the family: "Despite his clearly devastating injuries, I was so pleased to read in the reports a description of a very bright and alert little boy who smiled. It goes without saying that so much of his progress and hope for the future is due to your unstinting care, love and support."

Paul Rees QC, for the health authority, said that "an obstetric emergency" occurred at Matthew's birth which was not dealt with properly. "As we all know, nothing I can say can make good what was done wrong on that day. But what he and his parents are entitled to hear in a public forum is for the defendant to say sorry and to give an unreserved public apology and, through me, the defendant does that."

The judge said the damages properly reflected Matthew's especially complex needs. The family's solicitors said the parents were relieved the action was concluded and that their son now had financial security for the rest of his life.