1 Jul 2009

Press Release: Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridation Authority sued - $1 m legal costs
Wednesday, 1 July 2009, 2:45 pm
Press Release: Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridation Authority sued - $1 m legal costs

The UK South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is facing a legal challenge over its recent decision to fluoridate areas of Southampton against the overwhelming weight of public opinion, and the vote of 6 out of 7 local Councils. The SHA has allowed £400,000 (about $NZ 1 million) for legal costs to defend the law suit.

“The legal challenge itself is not about the pros and cons of the fluoridation, it’s about the fact that they have messed up how they have gone about the process,” said Sean Humber, of Leigh Day and Co, the solicitors handling the claimant’s case.

UK law was changed in 2002 to allow SHAs, rather than water companies, to decide on fluoridation. But they have to establish public support first. The challenge is based on the fact that public opinion was against fluoridation, and the claim that evidence from opponents was not properly considered.

Consultation attracted more than 10,000 submissions. Of those from people in the affected area, 72 per cent were against. In a separate phone poll of 2,000 residents, 38 per cent opposed fluoridation, with 32 per cent for.

The SHA also commissioned a report form a private company – a report (supporting fluoridation) kept secret, and not made available for consultation.

The SHA said it believes it fulfilled and exceeded its legal requirements during the consultation.

“The SHAs are like District Health Boards in New Zealand” points out Mark Atkin, Fluoride Action Network’s representative on the Fluoridation-free NZ Coalition. “They were given the power to make fluoridation decisions for one reason only – to force it on the people of the UK whether they wanted it or not, just like our own DHBs would like to do. The water companies would not fluoridate because they were concerned they would be sued for harm caused by fluoridation” adds Mr Atkin, a trained lawyer. Such law suits are currently being prepared in Australia and the USA.

“In NZ, DHBs conduct phone surveys that invariably are claimed to show majority support for fluoridation. But when it comes to an actual vote, it is 2:1 against. We saw this in Onehunga in 2001 and Greymouth in 2006“ points out Mr Atkin, adding “this shows how important proper consultation procedures are – and why fluoridation promoters try so hard to avoid them, as evident recently in Waitaki, Southland, and Central Otago.”

“The UK legal requirement for ascertaining public support through consultation is an essential safeguard against the dictatorial attitude of these Authorities, who have a political commitment to fluoridation that flies in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, just like our DHBs. The SHA’s consultation process was internationally recognised as a sham from the start. It really shows how weak the case is for fluoridation when it has to be forced on people in this most appalling way” he concludes.


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