26 June 1998
MPs seek ban on home use of OPs

MPs urged the Government to ban “amateurs” from using products containing organophosphates (OPs), after an official report confirmed what critics called “a Whitehall shambles”.

They also predicted substantial claims for damages against manufacturers and the Government, based on admissions made in the report from the committee known as the Official Group on OPs.

The report notes the “direct relevance” of at least one successful legal action for compensation in Britain. A shepherd named Robert Shepherd was exposed to the effects of legally required sheep dips in the early 1970s. He claimed fatigue, mood swings, pains and memory loss and won £80,000.

Although OPs are most widely used as insecticides in farming, they are also found in products such as those to kill headlice and shampoos for pets, an all-party group of MPs and peers warned.

Two members of the group, Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, and the Countess of Mar, a Scottish farmer and crossbench peer, claimed that the report implied “maladministration at best and total incompetence at worst in Whitehall”. They predicted a surge of compensation claims.