Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: High Court challenge to fluoridation plans rejected

Source: Daily Echo | Education Reporter
Posted on February 11th, 2011
Location: United Kingdom, England

THE legal challenge against the South Central Strategic Health Authority plan to add fluoride to Southampton’s water has failed.

It has now been ruled that the decision to fluoridate the water supply was lawful and the strategic health authority was justified to take the action it has.

The judge decided against upholding the challenge by Southampton mum Gerri Milner.

Mr Justice Edward Holman, said: “I refuse this claim for judicial review. I appreciate that that will disappoint Ms Milner and the many objectors in the affected area, who whose position, I am sympathetic.

“However it is important to stress that our democratic parliament decided long ago that water can in certain circumstances be fluoridated.

“As I have endeavoured to show and contrary perhaps to the belief of Ms Milner and others it is not the law that fluoridation can only occur when a majority of the local population agree.

“Parliament has firmly entrusted area specific decision making to the relevant SHA.

“This SHA have not acted unlawfully and no court can interfere with their decision.”

In a statement released after the judgement, the SHA welcomed the judge’s decision. It said: “The SHA board remains satisfied that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to improve dental health and will now be considering its next steps.”

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Gerri Milner’s solicitor Sean Humber said she is now considering her next move.

He said: “She is disappointed by the decision and in her words it is a grim day for the justice of the people of Southampton.

“She is urgently considering an appeal with her legal team. It is really important to understand that the judgement is not a decision on the pros and cons of the merits of fluoridation.

“The judge went out of his way to express his sympathy for Geraldine’s position and on any analysis it could not be said there was a majority public supports for fluoridation in Southampton and that was accepted by the SHA.”

Justice Holman heard two days of arguments after the legal challenge was lodged by Southampton mum-of-three Gerri Milner.

Her lawyers believe South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) should not have ignored public opposition to the plans to fluoridate two-thirds of the city, as well as parts of Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.

During a public consultation on the scheme, 72 per cent of respondents living in the affected areas said they were against fluoridation, but the SHA board unanimously gave it the green light, saying they were convinced by the health benefits.

A second string of Ms Milner’s case was that the SHA also failed to properly evaluate some of the arguments lodged against the plans.

Barristers for the SHA, which set aside £400,000 to fight the judicial review, and the Government told the Royal Courts of Justice the decision was legally correct.

Mr Justice Edward Holman has now agreed with the SHA, rejecting the arguments put forward by Ms Milner.