Lib Dem fury over withdrawal of legal aid in epilepsy drug case

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has criticised the decision to withdraw legal aid from families suing an anti-epilepsy drug manufacturer.

Around 80 families had planned to begin legal proceedings against the makers of sodium valproate as they claim it caused birth defects in their children.

However, the Legal Service Commission (LSC) has decided against funding the case as it claims the claimants have little chance of success.

In a letter to the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, Sir Campbell claimed that the LSC had itself determined whether the drug was responsible for causing the children's conditions, reports the Guardian.

"By this decision, the LSC seems to be making itself 'judge and jury' in this claim, without allowing manufacturers to be called publicly to account," he wrote.

The case against drug manufacturer Sanofi-aventis began around six years ago, with legal costs already reaching around £3 million. 

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