By: 9 June 2015
Swine flu vaccine sufferers score victory against DWP

People who developed narcolepsy as a result of the 2009-10 pandemic swine flu vaccine have been told that they can receive compensation of £120,000, following a ruling by the Upper Tribunal in a case brought against the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).

The decision, which was highly critical of the way in which the DWP conducted its case, puts the UK on a level playing field with some other European countries that have already paid compensation to people affected by the vaccination, according to Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors, whose partner, Peter Todd, led the case against the DWP.

It results from the failure of an appeal by the DWP against a First-Tier Tribunal judgment in September 2014 that a test case applicant was entitled to vaccine injury compensation.

The test case was brought by Peter Todd on behalf of a child who has suffered from narcolepsy caused by the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix. The vaccine was manufactured by GSK and made widely available in the UK during the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic. The DWP had admitted that the vaccine had caused the narcolepsy, but argued that the applicant was not entitled to compensation because narcolepsy is not a ‘severe’ disablement.

In September 2013, the UK government’s own study showed that vaccinated children were 14 times more likely to have narcolepsy than unvaccinated controls – a strong signal that the vaccine had caused the injury. The DWP still, however, refused to make a compensation payment under the UK statutory vaccine injury payment, even though legislation specifies that a vaccine damage payment of £120,000 should be made if the applicant suffers severe and permanent disability as a result of certain vaccines.

“When we appealed to the First Tier Tribunal in 2014, I argued that narcolepsy was a severe disability within the meaning of the Act and we produced convincing evidence to prove this,” said Todd.

“The Tribunal agreed with me on that issue and ordered the DWP to pay compensation. We were disappointed that the DWP chose to appeal against that decision. We considered the evidence was clear that narcolepsy was severe.”

Todd explained that the £120,000 statutory award was not full compensation, but said that it would help those struggling as a result of what happened.

“This case is an important precedent for any future case involving vaccine injury and is the first time the issue has been considered by an appellate court, and will be binding on all future first-instance decisions,” Todd said.

Todd is also acting for 75 clients in civil liability claims against GSK, under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 for injury and loss caused by the Pandemrix vaccine.

“From the evidence I have gathered, I consider the court will find the vaccine to be a defective product that entitles the claimants to full compensatory damages,” he added.