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It's Not Our Call
December 29, 2000
Phone giant rules out huge claim from tumour victims.
Mobile phone giant Vodafone yesterday dismissed reports that it could face multi-million pound compensation claims from brain tumour victims.
A billion dollar string of lawsuits linking mobiles to tumours is set to be launched against manufacturers and network providers in the USA. That could lead to an avalanche of claims in Britain, where two thirds of people have mobiles.
British firm Vodafone co-owns Verizon Wireless, America's biggest mobile phone company with 26 million customers, which is said to be named in nearly all the lawsuits. They will be filed by lawyer Peter Angelos, who recently helped to win pounds 3billion damages for smokers from the tobacco industry.
But Vodafone insisted that despite holding a 45 per cent stake in Verizon it would not be liable to foot the bill even if damages were won.
A spokesman said they did not trade in the states where the cases have been launched - California, Kentucky and Maryland.
He added: "There is no way we can stop him bringing cases if he wants to but they will be vigorously defended."
Vodafone shares slipped on the London Stock Exchange as the City digested the news.
By lunchtime they had fallen 4p to 233p.
Scientists cannot yet decide whether radiation from the phones is a health risk.
And, so far, companies have successfully defended themselves against claims that they could be a hazard.
This year the Stewart report, the most comprehensive inquiry into mobile phones in Britain, said it could find no evidence of a risk.
But the report could not confirm that they were absolutely safe.
And this month the Department of Health announced that all handsets are to carry warnings about the dangers of excessive use, particularly for children.
More than one million leaflets will be distributed and a taskforce funded by the Government and industry will look at potential risks.