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Leading Lawyer calls on British Nuclear Fuels to explain to family's full extent of organ retention

Latest on the Sellafield organ retention case



Leading lawyer Sallie Booth, a Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell has said that the inquiry into the removal of body parts from former workers at the Sellafield Nuclear Plant needs to answer all the questions from the families of the deceased.

Ms Booth, who represented a number of families in the nationwide organ retention litigation which took place in 2004/05 and which involved hospitals and coroners from all over the country said "If body parts have been removed without consent, or even without the knowledge of the family, then, as we have seen in the cases from Alder Hey Hospital and the Bristol Royal Infirmary, to find out years later can be devastating for the bereaved relatives."

Information about the process of post mortem should have been explained to the families and they ought to have been given the opportunity to make an informed decision. If organs removed from deceased workers were then used for research purposes without the consent of families, it is very difficult indeed to see how this can possibly be justified. There remain many unanswered questions and we hope that the Inquiry will provide the answers which the families seek.

Alastair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary announced on the 18th April that an inquiry is to be launched to investigate claims that body parts were removed from dead former Sellafield workers.

The Inquiry will be lead by Michael Redfearn QC who conducted the inquiries into the claims that tissue and organs from children were removed and retained without their parents knowledge or consent at the Alder Hey Hospital and Bristol Royal Infirmary. Subsequent investigations revealed that this was a widespread practice throughout the UK.


Organs removed from deceased workers without consent of families

The GMB union claim that organs were removed from deceased radiation workers from the 1960s until the early 1990s without the knowledge or consent of their families.

The issue came to light when a research institute was asked to re-examine historic research data. The request was considered by a medical committee which realised that there appeared to be no evidence of the families having consented.

British Nuclear Fuels (which owns Sellafield) have responded in a statement that autopsy material had been used for legally correct purposes such as inquests.


Solicitor comments on body parts case

Ms. Booth said: If BNFL are right, then the Inquiry should be able to demonstrate this to the families as quickly as possible. If they are not, then the Inquiry will no doubt be able to explain to the families affected exactly what was done, when and why. They deserve to know all the facts, particularly whether body parts were used in studies, what those studies were for and what the results were. They deserve no less.

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