The Scottish Daily Express (May 24, 00)

By Tom Crainey & Allison Coggan

Excerpted from the Scottish Daily Express Landmark ruling in favour of campaigners opens way for multi-million pound compensation claims.

The Scottish Daily Express (May 24, 00) By Tom Crainey & Allison Coggan

Women left seriously ill by silicone implants have won a landmark ruling that could lead to multi-million pound payouts across Europe. The European Commission is to introduce new health, and safety regulations governing the use of breast implants after victims staged a lengthy battle to prove their case. Glasgow-based Silicone Support UK has spent five years fighting to prove a link between leaking implants, and debilitating illnesses in women. After years of being ignored, dismissed and ridiculed, the group - which has more than 1,000 Scottish members - has finally won recognition. Scottish MEP Bill Miller, who has championed the women's cause, said in Brussels last night: "I am delighted beyond words." "Despite every setback you could imagine these women won through. It is a privilege to be associated with them." The ruling is a personal victory for Margo Cameron, 46 who founded the support group. At the age of 36, she noticed a rapid deterioration in her health after having silicone injected into her lips as a pre-wedding present from her fiance. Within six months, her hair started to fall out, she was covered in a rash, and she had developed 15 other symptoms. The stress became so much that she cancelled her wedding plans and went to stay with relatives in America. There, she saw a specialist who told her the silicone had spread through her body. However when she returned to the UK, she was horrified to discover British doctors refused to accept the existence of silicone poisoning. Miss Cameron, who now suffers from multiple sclerosis, formed the Silicone Support UK group, and helped promote similar support groups throughout Europe, to persuade the British Government to ban the product. The injections she had are now illegal and she has retired from the campaign because of her declining health. The group put pressure on the last Consevative Government without any success, and the present Government set up an inquiry which did not support the women's claims. Undaunted, and with the backing of Mr Miller, it raised a petition throughout the EC which was presented to the Parliament. However, two years ago, their battle appeared to have ended in failure when the Commission turned down their claims flat. Mr Miller said last night: "To the great credit of the Parliament committee, they ordered their own limited inquiry which was carried out by a clinic in Madrid. It was their report which caused the Commission to hold up its hands and admit it was wrong." It is estimated there are seveal thousand victims of silicone poisoning in Scotland and 500,000 in the European Community. A recent study in the US found that 69 percent of silicone breast implants, now banned in America, Japan, Canada and France, rupture within 10 years. Health experts and campaigners also warned that they could become hard, and obscure cancerous tumours. Last night, grandmother Winnie Black, who had implants after her breast was removed because of cancer, welcomed the EC ruling. She said: "It's too late for me because my health will never be the same again but maybe it will help other women." Mrs Black, who had the silicone implants removed after they started to leak. She went to her doctor but was told she did not have silicone poisoning: "They told me there was no such thing. but I knew something was terribly wrong, because I was having such pain and was tired all the time". The Commission yesterday ordered a further study, expected to report within six months, to give effect to the new measures, which will be mandatory in all European Community countries. Bill Miller confirmed last night that the way is now open to examine the case for massive compensatin for victims, many of whom had implants after mastectomies.