13 October 1995

Australian OP victim wins case

AN Australian sheep shearer who was poisoned by organophosphorus chemicals has been awarded nearly £130,000 damages.

The case, which is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, has raised the hopes of hundreds of UK victims of OP dip poisoning.

Liberal Democrat MP Paul Tyler, convener of an all-Party group on OPs, welcomed the award as "a substantial step forward in the battle for compensation".

The Supreme Court of New South Wales found that the shearer, Bevan McKenzie, was poisoned while working at two farms in 1993 run by the Allambie Pastoral Company. Mr McKenzie, and three other shearers, including his son Craig, were required to shear sheep which had been treated, or required treatment, for fly strike.

A report in the Wagga Daily Advertiser said the treatment involved "the liberal application of tar which contained diazinon, a highly toxic class 2 organophosphate chemical".

The judge found that the ventilation was poor at one farm and there was significant chemical exposure responsible for poisoning Mr McKenzie. The court heard that the chemical was splashed on Mr McKenzies clothing and skin and he inhaled the vapour.

The judge found the Allambie Pastoral Company was negligent in the use of the chemical and that resulted in damage to Mr McKenzie, said the Wagga report.

Mr McKenzies solicitor, Tim Abbott, is reported as saying his client had suffered various physical and mental symptoms of chemical poisoning since March 1993.

The three other shearers who worked with Mr McKenzie have begun proceedings. Paul Tyler said the parliamentary OP group would be seeking another meeting with the farm minister. &#42

Liz Mason