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Files go missing in child vaccine inquiry

Howlin can't remember probe or its findings

By Patricia McDonagh, Irish Independent, 21st August 2010

THE deputy chairman of the Dail was last night at the centre of a new controversy over child vaccine trials.

As Labour Health Minister in 1993, Brendan Howlin assured victims that an inquiry had found they suffered no ill effects from the experimental medical tests.

But last night mystery surrounded the whereabouts of the files relating to the inquiry -- and Mr Howlin admitted he did not remember the probe or its findings.

The Department of Health said it was searching department archives in a bid to locate the documents. "Until all the files are retrieved, the department cannot say if the results of the inquiry exist," a spokesman said.

The claims follow yesterday's revelations in the Irish Independent that some victims of the trials are preparing a class action against the drugs giant responsible for the trials.

New documents reveal Mr Howlin's private secretary told victims the minister was "satisfied" there was no risk to the children subjected to the trials in the 1960s and 1970s. This was based on an inquiry supposedly carried out by the Department of Health.

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