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My kids got farm E.coli bug hell’

PUBLISHED: 16:02 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 25 August 2010

Ferrari Press Agency   16/9/09 ecoli1

Ferrari Press Agency 16/9/09 ecoli1

THE father of two children hospitalised after catching E.coli from a petting farm is considering legal action

THE father of two children hospitalised after catching E.coli from a petting farm is considering legal action.

Lee Dolby's children Olivia, six, and Harry, three, were both taken to Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup (QMS) after visiting Godstone Farm in Surrey after bosses knew of the E.coli outbreak.

The children, who visited the farm on September 4, were being sick, suffering from diarrhoea and passing blood.

Just days after Harry contracted the lethal bug, his sister Olivia was admitted into hospital.

Little Harry was released on Tuesday after seven days in hospital but Olivia was having tests yesterday (23) to determine when she could go home.

Telephone engineer Mr Dolby, 30, from Sidcup, said: "They really have been through it and the whole thing was avoidable. It was through incompetence and failing to keep hygiene levels to a high enough standard.

"I am feeling a lot of anger, frustration and distress as a result."

He added: "A lot of people have taken legal action quite early.

"We were just concentrating on the children getting better.

"Now things are looking better we can consider it. I have a meeting with my solicitor from one of the largest firms in the country. They approached us.

"With something as serious as that, you should close it. I work in an industry where we work to strict health and safety guidelines. If we think something is wrong with equipment then we close the site down."

The family have been through turmoil since June after Harry choked and was admitted to hospital to be on a ventilator.

But days later he contracted swine flu only to contract e.coli once he recovered.

Mr Dolby added: "My children have suffered extra pain and a lot of stress and distress. They have been through a lot.

"They are extremely close to each other. It is really lovely to see them together. They idolise each other.

"Olivia has made some progress in the last 24 to 48 hours. I am hoping she will come out tomorrow (Thursday). She has had exactly the same symptoms as Harry - sickness, diarrhoea, passing of blood. Everything he had, two or three days later she had.

"They did not have any kidney failure. We got them to hospital early enough because of all the publicity the other parents did."

Another victim, Sidcup dance and fitness coach Claire Zahara (cor) also started legal proceedings against the farm on Tuesday (22).

The 24-year-old suffered debilitating stomach cramps and diarrhoea and began to pass blood five days after her visit with a group of friends and family.

She said: "I've been going to Godstone Farm since I was a child and never expected anything like this to happen. The group I was with included children aged three, 12 months and only four-months-old, so it is terrifying to think what would have happened if one of them had contracted E.coli.

"As a self-employed person, becoming ill brought my life to a standstill and I do not think the farm acted quickly enough to protect the public."

Her solicitor Richard Geraghty, a partner from Russell Jones & Walker is also representing three-year-old Alfie Weaver from Redhill, who had kidney failure after his visit.

Mr Geraghty said: "E.Coli is a very serious bacterial infection and can be fatal if not treated appropriately. The number of cases now confirmed would suggest that Godstone Farm did not take the appropriate action to protect the public.

"In particular, it would appear that there are some doubts over whether they moved quickly enough in closing their doors to the public and whether they were given the right advice by the Health Protection Agency.

"The owners of Godstone Farm had a duty to ensure their premises were safe for the public and if it is found that they have failed in this duty of care, it is likely a number of claims will be made which could amount to a payout total in excess of hundreds and thousands pounds. Individual cases in the past have recovered damages in excess of £2 million."

A spokesperson for Godstone Farm refused to comment on potential law suits.

A statement on their website read: "All the staff at the farm are very upset about the E-coli outbreak, and we hope that all the children make a full and speedy recovery.

"We have taken the decision to close the farm until the authorities have finished their investigations. These have been very thorough and are still ongoing.

"We have cooperated fully with all the authorities from the very beginning and will of course continue to do so."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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