Belfast Telegraph

£8m for Northern Ireland Marine Eaglesham hit by rare fever picked up in Afghanistan

Judge slams MoD after fever left soldier 'so weak he can barely move'

By Staff Reporter

A former Royal Marine from Northern Ireland left devastated by a rare fever after returning from a combat tour of Afghanistan is in line for up to £8m in compensation.

And a High Court judge slammed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for delays that increased the suffering of 34-year-old Phillip Eaglesham.

He was a corporal in the Green Berets when he contracted Q fever - also known as Helmand Fever - in October 2010, falling ill on his way home.

The virulent illness, which in extreme cases causes irreparable damage to vital organs, is picked up by exposure to bacteria from animals.

He was flown home to the UK via a medical "decompression" base in Cyprus, London's High Court heard.

But the illness took a heavy toll on the soldier after his return to England, resulting in symptoms of complete exhaustion.

Mr Eaglesham, originally from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, described how the ill effects left him so powerless he could scarcely pick up his youngest child. The father-of-three, now living in Plymouth, said he was "so weak he can barely move" - to the point where even brushing his teeth was "shattering".

His barrister Theo Huckle QC told the court his exposure to the disease had led to chronic fatigue syndrome, resulting in "severe depression".

Mr Eaglesham sued the MoD for alleged negligence in his medical treatment, and was yesterday handed outright victory by Mrs Justice Andrews.

In a damning decision, the judge said she was "unimpressed by the litany of excuses" put forward by the MoD for delays that had blighted the case.

The MoD's failure to comply with court orders requiring prompt disclosure of evidence was "substantial and serious".

Although she accepted that the orders had not been "deliberately flouted", she went on to strike out the MoD's defence to the claim.

"The consequence is that judgment will be entered (in Mr Eaglesham's favour) on liability, with damages to be assessed," she ruled.

The judge said Mr Eaglesham had a "poor prognosis", and that his claim had been valued by his lawyers at "in the order of £6-8m".

Mr Huckle earlier claimed the MoD was to blame in failing to treat him with the antibiotic Doxycycline either during his tour of duty or after he fell ill.

The MoD, he said, "failed to be prepared for and prevent Q fever infection of service personnel in Afghanistan".

Belfast Telegraph


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