Lariam: Commons Defence Committee’s damning criticism of MoD’s duty of care


I am delighted that the Commons Defence Committee has recommended a near-total ban on the use of Lariam (Mefloquine) in the UK armed forces. This is excellent news for our clients, and shows that the Committee is again showing itself willing to hold the MoD to account for its treatment of our service men and women. Only a month ago they took the brave step of recommending that the MoD should lose its immunity from prosecution for corporate manslaughter in the report on training injuries called “Beyond Endurance?”

We have been contacted by more than 40 veterans and serving members of the forces who have taken Lariam and feel that they have been harmed by the drug.

Very few if any of those have had the advice, warnings and screening for pre-existing mental health problems that the medical authorities have required in relation to this risky drug for nearly 20 years. Even fewer had been offered a choice of medication.

Such failures represent a breach of the MoD’s duty of care. There are no two ways about it, and because of everything I have seen I in the course of my work on behalf of my military clients I have been pressing for an end to the use of Lariam.

I submitted evidence to the Inquiry to alert the Committee to the legal position in relation to the MoD’s duty of care. It was, I felt, necessary that the Committee should be fully aware that the MoD’s duty as healthcare provider and employer was the same as the one we rightly expect from our doctors or employers in the civilian world. There are no excuses, but from my long experience of representing service men and women who have been injured by MoD negligence I know that it is often breached.

The Committee has taken note, and strongly condemned the MoD. It talks of a “lamentable weakness in the MoD’s Duty of Care towards service personnel”. I can only agree.

Philippa Tuckman, Partner, Hilary Meredith Solicitors.

Philippa provided evidence to the Defence Committee Inquiry in to the use of Lariam in the armed forces. She also provided evidence at the “Beyond Endurance?” Inquiry which recommended that the MoD should lose its immunity from prosecution for corporate manslaughter.

Hilary Meredith Solicitors is representing members of the services who have been injured by Lariam. If you have been affected and would like to discuss a claim, please contact us through our website.

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