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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK
Lawyers 'not to view victims' scars'
The scene of the Omagh bomb
The Omagh bomb left 29 people dead
Justice Minister Des Browne has ordered that lawyers representing the Compensation Agency should not look at victims' scars while a review of the practice is being conducted.

The review, which will be carried out by a law professor, was triggered by complaints from two women injured during the Omagh bombing.

They said they had been distressed at being asked to expose their scars in front of a number of lawyers.

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured when the Real IRA detonated a car bomb in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998.

Victims' Minister Des Browne
Des Browne: "I shared that concern"
Mr Browne said he shared the widespread concern about the practice, which is why he ordered the review.

The only exceptions to the temporary ban on viewing scars will be where injuries are easily visible and a victim's full consent has been obtained in advance.

Mr Browne has appointed Professor Desmond Greer from Queen's University's law faculty to undertake the review.

"There was widespread public concern following the revelation that two women victims of the Omagh bombing were greatly distressed at being asked to expose their scars in front of a number of lawyers," said Mr Browne.

"I shared that concern and promised a thorough investigation.

"Accordingly, I have asked Professor Greer to look at all the circumstances that caused the two women concerned such distress."

High Court

Last week, another woman injured in the Omagh bombing said she felt humiliated while being examined by lawyers in her compensation claim.

Mary Ellis was injured in her shoulder and leg and her eardrums were perforated.

She said she had to appear before a group of lawyers in her underwear, adding that one moved her bra strap for a better look at her shoulder.

Because of the experience at the High Court in Belfast, Mrs Ellis said she did not want any compensation but later accepted the first offer she was made.

Four years after the Real IRA attack she still suffers pain.

Her comments came a day after another Omagh bombing victim described a similar ordeal.

Rosemary Ingram, 53, had to strip in front of a group of six lawyers.

Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

27 Aug 02 | N Ireland
23 Aug 02 | N Ireland
26 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Jul 02 | N Ireland
20 Feb 02 | N Ireland
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