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Man With CP Wins Right To Fight For Compensation

May 8, 2009

A man with cerebral palsy who won a scholarship to Eton and went on to study at Cambridge has won the right to sue a health authority.

Julius Whiston, 34, argues that his condition was caused by being denied oxygen during birth at London’s Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in 1974.

The London Strategic Health Authority, which denies liability, said the claim fell outside the legal time limit.

The High Court ruling means he can continue his legal fight for damages.

Mr Whiston argued his case should be allowed to proceed as he did not get relevant information about the cause of his condition until he was 31.

His health deteriorated when he was 24 to the point where he has to use a wheelchair and can only communicate with the help of a computer, the court heard.

He said his mother Margaret told him in November 2005 she believed his condition had been caused by medical negligence because a junior doctor had unsuccessfully tried to carry out a forceps delivery for more than 30 minutes.

Until then, he told Mr Justice Eady at London’s High Court, he thought his condition was “just one of those things”.

The authority argued Mr Whiston had become aware before his 18th birthday that his condition had been caused by a brain injury.

Counsel Michael de Navarro QC argued the claim had effectively been manufactured after Mr Whiston’s condition had deteriorated.

The judge ruled Mr Whiston had proved that he was not aware until November 2005 that his disability might have been caused by hospital staff, and said the family was a “remarkably positive household”.

Mr Whiston was a King’s Scholar at Eton before going on to read maths at Pembroke College, Cambridge, also gaining a doctorate.

The judge ruled: “However others may have regarded him – including his parents – the fact remains that he has achieved far more in his life than most able-bodied people.

“Accordingly, it seems to me entirely plausible that he regarded himself as only mildly affected by the disability which had always been with him.

“He did his best to ignore it and concentrate on other matters.

I would just like to say that while I do, of course, wish Mr Whiston luck in his fight for compensation, whether or not he wins, I completely agree with the judge. Mr Whiston’s amazing educational achievements have shown that he is truly DisAbled. Before anything else, his is yet another very successful story of an inclusive education. It is these achievements, and not his current efforts to battle his local health authority, that make him a real inspiration to anyone with any disability.

This post is part of the Inclusion Rules! debate at Same Difference.

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