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Daily Echo High Court challenge to fluoridation plans for Southampton rejected
High Court challenge to fluoridation plans for Southampton rejected
2:30pm Friday 11th February 2011
By Jon Reeve
THE legal challenge against the South Central Strategic Health Authority plan to add fluoride to Southampton's water has failed.
It has now been ruled that the decision to fluoridate the water supply was lawful and the strategic health authority was justified to take the action it has.
The judge decided against upholding the challenge by Southampton mum Gerri Milner.
Mr Justice Edward Holman, said: "I refuse this claim for judicial review. I appreciate that that will disappoint Ms Milner and the many objectors in the affected area, who whose position, I am sympathetic.
"However it is important to stress that our democratic parliament decided long ago that water can in certain circumstances be fluoridated.
"As I have endeavoured to show and contrary perhaps to the belief of Ms Milner and others it is not the law that fluoridation can only occur when a majority of the local population agree.
"Parliament has firmly entrusted area specific decision making to the relevant SHA.
"This SHA have not acted unlawfully and no court can interfere with their decision."
In a statement released after the judgement, the SHA welcomed the judge's decision. It said: "The SHA board remains satisfied that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to improve dental health and will now be considering its next steps."
Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Gerri Milner's solicitor Sean Humber said she is now considering her next move.
He said: "She is disappointed by the decision and in her words it is a grim day for the justice of the people of Southampton.
"She is urgently considering an appeal with her legal team. It is really important to understand that the judgement is not a decision on the pros and cons of the merits of fluoridation.
"The judge went out of his way to express his sympathy for Geraldine's position and on any analysis it could not be said there was a majority public supports for fluoridation in Southampton and that was accepted by the SHA."
Justice Holman heard two days of arguments after the legal challenge was lodged by Southampton mum-of-three Gerri Milner.
Her lawyers believe South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) should not have ignored public opposition to the plans to fluoridate two-thirds of the city, as well as parts of Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.
During a public consultation on the scheme, 72 per cent of respondents living in the affected areas said they were against fluoridation, but the SHA board unanimously gave it the green light, saying they were convinced by the health benefits.
A second string of Ms Milner’s case was that the SHA also failed to properly evaluate some of the arguments lodged against the plans.
Barristers for the SHA, which set aside £400,000 to fight the judicial review, and the Government told the Royal Courts of Justice the decision was legally correct.
Mr Justice Edward Holman has now agreed with the SHA, rejecting the arguments put forward by Ms Milner.
At bottom of page you will find the November pdf file Newsletter attached
CAMPAIGNERS have won the right to challenge in court an NHS plan that would add fluoride
to the drinking Wilier of 8,000 Totton residents.
A Judicial review launched by :'Southampton resident Geraldine Mllner has been given the go ahead to scrutinise the legality of the decision which will affect overall 190,000 people in and around the city if it goes ahead as planned next year.
Southampton Primary Care Trust's scheme was approved in February by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) despite protests, a 15,000-name petition, and a Mori poll showing 38% opposed against 32% in support.
It was billed as key to reducing above average child tooth decay in Southampton, and supporters said there was no evidence behind claims it was harmful, beyond occasional mottling of teeth.
Mrs Milner's lawyers argue fluoridation should not have been approved because it was at odds with pronouncements from members of the government that such schemes should only be allowed if most of the local population were in favour.
Sean Humber, from solicitors Leigh Day and Co, told the 'A&T" that although the laws created in 2003 and 2005 were "silent" about public opinion, ministers' comments had shown the way.
He said: "Government minister after government minister stood up when the Act was being passed in parliament and said it should only go ahead if the local population was in favour — but that was not in the actual legislation."
The case could see the Department for Health being called on to explain its rules, and the SHA having to pay costs if Mr Justice Hitting finds against it. Mr Humber said: "I think we have a good case and they are in a bit of a hole."
The new laws gave the NHS powers to order water companies to add fluoride. The SHA claimed it could go ahead, even if the public opinion was against it, as it had followed due process and was convinced of the health benefits.
Mrs Milner also said opponents' arguments were not properly considered but the judge hearing the case decided that only the legality of the decision would be investigated.
The SHA said in a statement: "South Central Strategic Health Authority is pleased with the ruling and the judge's view that 'in all other respects the decision-making process was unimpeachable'.
"The SHA remains confident that the decision that has been made by the SHA board was carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation laid down by parliament and is in the best interests of the health of local people."
Mrs Milner's lawyers have challenged the judge's ruling against the second half of her case, which is scheduled to be heard on October 23rd. Depending on the result, the judicial review could be heard as early as next year with a decision in the spring.
Totton councillor David Harrison said: "Hopefully, the court case will expose matters, forcing government to concede that they cannot interfere with our water supply without our consent."
The issue was discussed last week by a meeting of New Forest district councillors where Coun. Maureen Holding said: "Our input and the
wishes of the majority were totally ignored — the outcome is unfair and they need to be taken to task over it."
Retired dentist Coun. Tony Swaine told the employment, health and well being review panel: "This is being imposed upon people because of a small minority who appeared not to be able to look after their teeth properly."
Coun. Miranda Whitehead said alternatives to fluoride should be considered: "We are talking about medicating the many to protect the few who are unable to protect themselves.
"Having worked in casualty I've been truly shocked by the state of children's teeth and it really does represent a socio-economic divide." A joint complaint to the ombudsman by New Forest East MP Julian Lewis and Coun. Harrison alleging the consultation was one-sided and ignored residents' opposition will be put on hold until after the court challenge.
The impact of the judicial review has already been felt by the NHS in the north-west where the SHA there has delayed investigating fluoridation until the case concludes.
Welcome to the new Hampshire Against Fluoridation websit. First published on the 1st November 2008.
Below is a film of Professor Paul Connett giving his views on the consultation document produced by the Strategic Health Authority in their attempt to convince Southampton people that fluoridation is effective and safe.
First film is a presentation given by Stephen Peckham, BSc., MA(Econ).This was filmed in the Polygon area at one of our organised "drop ins."
|HAF July 2010 Newsletter.pdf||343.64 KB|