Donns set to launch Gulf War action in New Year

Manchester law firm Donns is preparing to launch legal action against the Government over 'Gulf War Syndrome' in the New Year.

Donns partner Hilary Meredith, who represents more than 1,000 veterans, has written to ask firms Dawbarns and Gill Akaster, which have been awarded the generic legal aid contract to sue the Government, asking them to join her in the proceedings.

Donns had been locked in a long-running battle with the two firms over the awarding of a Legal Aid Board (LAB) contract into generic research.

Donns lost out on the LAB contract in April, but Meredith said the Manchester firm should have amassed enough medical evidence by Christmas to issue proceedings in the New Year. “We now feel we are almost ready to proceed,” she said.

Richard Barr, based at the Dawbarns' Wisbech office, said the matter was complex and sensitive and he was unable to comment in depth about Meredith's letter.

The proposed joint legal action comes as three separate research projects investigating the effects of chemicals which Gulf soldiers came into contact with are carried out by Donns, the Ministry of Defence and Dawbarns, which is working with Plymouth firm Gill Akaster.

Peter Bright of Gill Akaster said his and Dawbarns' medical research, involving 30 veterans and 30 “controls”, was being scheduled to be carried out in January 1997.

One aspect of the research will be an examination of the effect of the vaccinations given to the soldiers, as some of those who never left England are now suffering from the so-called 'Gulf War syndrome'.

Around 60 UK law firms have Gulf War veteran clients.