'Sorry' for victims of Thalidomide

Two Jewish Thalidomide victims visited Parliament last week to witness the government’s long-awaited apology to those who suffered the consequences of the drug’s use 50 years ago.

Guy Tweedy and Nick Dobrick heard Health Minister Mike O’Brien express “sincere regret and deep sympathy” and confirm a £20 million package, worth around £40,000 each for more than 460 survivors and their families.

Mr O’Brien told the House of Commons the money, to be distributed by the Thalidomide Trust, would be used to meet the health needs of survivors.

“We acknowledge both the physical hardship and the emotional difficulties that have faced the children affected and their families as a result of this drug and the challenges that many continue to endure, often on a daily basis,” he said. He praised Mr Tweedy and Mr Dobrick as having been “robust” in their seven-year campaign. Both men were born with shortened upper limbs as a result of being given the drug.

It is thought at least 1,000 children suffered severe deformities in the 1950s and 1960s.

Their mothers were given Thalidomide as a treatment for morning sickness or insomnia while pregnant.

Mr Tweedy, 47, a member of Harrogate Hebrew Congregation, said: “It was a fantastic moment. During the campaign, sufferers and their parents have died, and they will not benefit from the compensation.”

The campaigners met Mr O’Brien after the announcement. Mr Tweedy added: “I said to him that many MPs had overlooked our case down the years, but he had done the right thing, and for that we thank him very much.”

    Last updated: 3:54pm, January 21 2010