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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 14:50 GMT
Organ scandal families accept 5m
Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool
Hundreds of families were affected by the scandal
Families of hundreds of children whose organs were retained by a children's hospital have accepted a 5m compensation settlement.

A judge ruled on Friday that the offer of 5,000 for each child caught up in the Alder Hey scandal was a "sensible and fair settlement".

The deal was struck following negotiations between lawyers representing the Liverpool hospital, the University of Liverpool and the bereaved families.

The settlement also includes letters of apology to parents, a memorial to the victims, a donation to charity and a meeting with parents to discuss changes at the hospital.

I very much hope that these parties can adopt a closure in what has been a very distressing and serious event

Mr Justice Gage

A total of 13 of the 1,154 claimants have either rejected or have not responded to the offer.

The money will be paid by the National Health Service Litigation Authority.

Any left over from the 5m will be given to families who have suffered greater hardship as a result of the hospital procedures, Ian Cohen, solicitor for the Royal Liverpool Children's Litigation Group said.

Mr Justice Gage at Nottingham Crown Court said that he hoped the families could now begin to move on.

He added: "I am quite certain that that represents a sensible and fair settlement so far as they are concerned and I very much hope that these parties can adopt a closure in what has been a very distressing and serious event."

'Step forward'

The judge also ruled that a national litigation group, pursuing claims following other organ scandals, should be opened up to claimants in Liverpool who had rejected or not responded to the offer.

A court hearing in respect of this group, which includes victims of the Bristol baby heart scandal, is to be held.

Janet Valentine, 43, whose daughter, Kayleigh, was affected by the Alder Hey scandal, said: "It's not about the money.

"Our fight is to get the law changed and we want to see an apology, not only from the hospital but from the Government.

"It is a step forward and not backward.

"Anything that prevents this happening again is a step forward but it is so vital that the law gets changed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Chris Hogg
"The legal challenge was about ensuring this kind of scandal wouldn't happen again"

Click here to go to Liverpool
See also:

06 Nov 02 | England
13 May 02 | England
17 Jun 02 | England
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