- A British Telecom engineer is planning
to sue his former employers, claiming protracted use of mobile phones has
caused him brain damage.
- Thirty-nine-year-old Stephen Corney says
he suffers from severe short-term memory loss as a result of using mobile
phones for long periods.
- He left BT last year, after going on
sick leave in 1996. He worked for the company for 10 years.
- Mr Corney's lawyers have issued a protective
writ which means they have three months to compile scientific and medical
evidence to back their case.
- If they decide to go forward with the
case - which would be the first of its kind in the UK - BT will be issued
with a writ and could face a compensation claim of over £100,000.
- Digital phones
- Mr Corney, whose job involved installing
telecom equipment and testing mobile phone coverage, claims his problems
began after BT switched from analogue to digital phones.
- He told a press conference at TUC headquarters
on Sunday that using digital phones made him feel as if a "steel band"
was tightening around his head.
- He said his head would become hot and
that he would often feel "punch drunk" after he finished using
- He often spent up to 90 minutes on a
mobile at a time.
- Mr Corney, who lives in Bedfordshire,
explained how losing his short-term memory had affected his life.
- "When I was first off work, I would
go shopping and I would have to have everything on a list.
- "I would then put the shopping in
the boot of the car, get into the car and see the list and not realise
I had already done it and so I would go back and do the shopping again,"
- His partner, Lisa Hutchings, said his
condition had improved since he stopped work, but he still found it difficult
to perform the simplest of tasks.
- 'No convincing evidence'
- Tom Jones, Mr Corney's lawyer, said he
was confident that the medical and scientific evidence would be found to
back the claim.
- "I have every belief that Stephen
has gone through something which has been caused by mobile phones,"
- But a BT spokesman said there was "no
convincing scientific evidence that mobile phones pose any health threat".
- However, he added that BT would continue
to support research into mobile phones and their effect on health.
- A spokesman for the National Radiological
Protection Board, an independent body which advises on issues such as mobile
phone use, said: "There is no firm evidence of any serious health
effects from mobile phones."
- But he added: "We do support the
need for research in this area."
- In recent years, there have been various
health scares linked to mobile phones, including concerns that exposure
to radiation caused cancer.
- The spokesman said the NRPB was "as
certain as we can be" that there is no evidence of mobiles causing
- "But the brain is a very complex
organ and it could be that prolonged use of mobiles could have an effect
on brain function," he said.
- The NRPB is publishing a report on research
on animals exposed to mobile phones later this year and the European Commission
has just secured industry funding for a major research project into the