Gulf War contract controversy reignites

THE legal team from Cambridgeshire firm Dawbarns which is handling the Gulf War syndrome multi-party action has moved to a larger firm, reigniting controversy surrounding the way the contract to run the case was originally awarded.

The four-person team, led by Richard Barr, announced last week that it was joining top London legal aid firm Hodge Jones & Allen in April because its workload was becoming too big. The team is also handling two other multi-party actions.

It has since emerged that Manchester personal injury firm Donns, which unsuccessfully bid for the Gulf War contract in 1995, made what the Legal Aid Board (LAB) describes as “formal representations” to it over Barr and his team's move.

And, although a special LAB committee approved the move, it is understood Donns believes it reinforces its own long-held claims that it should have won the contract.

After Dawbarns won the contract, Donns, which acts for over 1,000 alleged Gulf War syndrome victims, successfully had the decision quashed in the High Court. However, when the work was re-tendered, Dawbarns won back the work.

Donns declined to comment.

However, LAB policy adviser Anne Grosskurth said: “We have no regrets about awarding the contract to Barr's team as its understanding of scientific cases is excellent.”