High Court is asked to rule on Lindane

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

IN A CASE that could have major implications for the chemical and pesticide industry, the High Court will be asked today to decide whether a man's rare blood condition was caused by exposure to Lindane, which is found in wood preservatives.

William Gaskill, a student, is suing Rentokil, alleging that the aplastic anaemia - a potentially fatal blood disease, similar to leukaemia - from which he suffered was caused by his exposure to the chemical as a baby when his parents' house was treated. Rentokil is contesting the case, denying there is any link between exposure and the disease.

The start of the case co-incides with the launch of a campaign for the setting up of a no-fault compensation scheme - similar to that for workers exposed to radiation - for alleged victims of chemical and pesticide poisoning.

The scheme would be funded by the chemical manufacturing industry and the Government, which regulates the use of pesticides.

The campaign is supported by MPs, academics and lawyers because of the difficulties facing potential victims in proving that a particular chemical caused a disease; and that the company using the chemical was aware of any risk and was negligent - particularly when research may be scant.

Scientific reports and articles may indicate a possible link but this does not establish the necessary causation to scientific standards that is necessary for a court.