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The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"So far 70 people have died of new variant CJD"
 real 56k

Sunday, 22 October, 2000, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
CJD victims welcome payout reports
CJD infected brain
CJD causes the brain to become spongy
Relatives of people who have died from the human form of mad cow disease are welcoming reports that the government has approved a compensation package costing millions.

Details are due to be announced on Thursday after the long awaited publication of the report from the BSE inquiry headed by Lord Phillips.

More than 70 people have died so far from new variant CJD and their families were expected to launch legal action for compensation this week

Lord Phillips
Lord Phillips has chaired the BSE inquiry since 1998
But ministers have decided it would be "morally impossible" not to set up a 'no-fault' compensation package, according to the Observer newspaper.

The Department of Health will not confirm or deny the claim.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost programme that BSE/CJD was "a terrible problem that we inherited".

He declined to comment specifically on the reported compensation package, and said a government statement would be made on Thursday.

"We must wait until then," he added.

Government liability

David Body, a solicitor representing variant CJD victims, said even with the extent of infection in the population unknown ministers would not be making a liability for themselves by approving a compensation package.

"I don't think it creates a difficult precedent for them," he said.

"It does have the problem that it doesn't know how many cases there will eventually be.

"But I think what it does recognise is that those cases will be over the next 15, 20 years so the government isn't creating an enormous liability for itself this minute."

David Body
David Body says the package would have to last at least 10 years
David Body told BBC News 24 that he gave news of a compensation package "a cautious welcome".

He said: "I want to see what the deal is in black and white."

He said there had been inconsistencies across the UK in care for CJD victims and that centralising such care would eliminate such problems being repeated.

Mr Body said he welcomed an opportunity to discuss a compensation package with the government.

He added that any financial deal would have to be large enough "for us to rely on it, not just for this year or next but for the next 10 or 15 years."

The BBC's Daniel Sandford says it is not yet clear whether ministers will respond to another key demand of the families.

Terry Bishop
Terry Bishop wants victim care co-ordinated
Terry Bishop, whose wife Jane died of variant CJD, is hoping to be compensated but is also calling for a central body to co-ordinate the health and social care of any future victims of the disease.

"It's ridiculous to think that we are still five, six years down the line batting in the dark.

"Somebody or a collective body of people must get together now and formulate a team that can go round and help the families immediately."

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See also:

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