High Court Judges Overturn Pesticide Ruling

Georgina DownsAn environmental campaigner’s victory against crop-spraying policies has been overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Georgina Downs, from West Sussex, had argued illnesses she suffered were caused by crop-spraying near her home.

In backing her case, the High Court told the government to reconsider spraying policies.

But Ms Downs now faces a huge legal bill after three judges at the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the Environment Secretary.

The judges ruled the government was following guidance that gave priority to human health.

They made no order for costs in the case, which means each side has to pay its own legal bills.

Ms Downs, 35, who lives on the edge of fields near Chichester, estimated her campaign had cost her more than £100,000.

However before the court battle started she agreed with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that each side would bear its own costs and she had already paid her lawyers.

House of Lords

She launched her independent UK Pesticides Campaign in 2001 after being exposed to pesticide spraying from the age of 11. She said she had suffered flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat, as well as blistering and other problems.

After the Appeal Court judgment, she said: “I am upset but not as upset as if the ruling had gone against me on my own evidence.”

She said the appeal judges ignored her evidence and used official reports to reach their findings.

She now plans to petition the House of Lords for a hearing.


This may go down in history as the most bizarre and inaccurate judgment to have ever come out of the Court of Appeal
Georgina Downs
pesticides campaigner

“I think this may well go down in history as being the most bizarre and inaccurate judgment to have ever come out of the Court of Appeal,” she said.

“The Government could not have wished for a better result than if it wrote the judgment itself.”

In the Appeal Court ruling, Lord Justice Sullivan said that Ms Downs “genuinely believes that her own, and her family’s health problems have been caused by the exposure to pesticide spraying”.

He said that although Ms Downs was “a most effective campaigner” she had no formal scientific or medical qualifications.

He said the regulatory framework for pesticides required that a balance was struck between the interests of the individual and the community as a whole.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was entitled to conclude that it had achieved that balance by compliance with the terms of a directive which ensured priority is given to the protection of human health, the court found.

The Crop Protection Association said the judgment was a victory for common sense.

“Crop protection products are essential to maintain an adequate supply of high-quality, affordable food,” said chief executive Dominic Dyer.


(source BBC)