England

Godstone Farm admits E. coli outbreak liability

Twins Aaron and Todd Mock Image copyright bbc
Image caption Twins Aaron and Todd Mock both suffered kidney damage after contracting E. coli

A Surrey petting farm has admitted liability for an E. coli outbreak in which 93 people were infected, say lawyers for some of those affected.

A total of 76 children under the age of 10 became ill after they contracted the infection at Godstone Farm, Surrey, in the summer of 2009.

Some children suffered kidney failure and spent weeks in hospital. They may need kidney transplants in the future.

Law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse said the farm was not disputing liability.

Twins Aaron and Todd Furnell, from Paddock Wood, both suffered acute kidney failure after contracting E. coli following a trip to the open farm near Redhill.

Aaron needed a feeding tube for liquids for several months and both children may need kidney transplants in the future.

'Long-term health'

Their mother, Tracy Mock, said: "I am very pleased that we have been successful in this case.

"As a family we have suffered significant pain and distress and may still not know for many years to come the long-term consequences for the twins' health.

"In the light of the farm's decision, we can take comfort in the fact that Todd, Aaron and the other children affected by this will have the financial support they need to deal with their current health problems and any that arise later in their lives."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Godstone Farm shut on 12 September 2009, four weeks after the first case of E. coli was reported

Field Fisher Waterhouse personal injury lawyer Jill Greenfield said: "Godstone Farm's confirmation that they will not contest the claim is a welcome decision for all families involved in the outbreak.

"To have toddlers seriously ill on dialysis, as many parents did, is simply horrific. Many of the children now have compromised kidney functioning.

"We will only know the long-term implications when the children get older. Only then will it become apparent whether or not their kidneys can continue to cope as they grow."

Godstone Farm shut on 12 September 2009, four weeks after the first case of E. coli was reported.

In a statement, Jackie Flaherty, owner of the farm, said: "All issues surrounding the E. coli outbreak in 2009 are being handled by the farm's insurers, so I am afraid I cannot comment further on the legal aspects.

"However, in the last 15 months the children involved have never been far from our thoughts and prayers, particularly those who spent time in hospital.

"We sincerely hope that all the children have made a full recovery."

She added: "We would like to thank the families and schools who have visited the farm in the past year for their fantastic support and encouragement."

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