Who? Philippa Dolan (pictured), family law partner at West Country and London firm Ashfords.
Why is she in the news? Acted in the High Court for a mother whose two daughters, aged 15 and 11, did not want to have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
The mother and father of the girls, now divorced, decided not to vaccinate them because of the supposed link between MMR, and autism and bowel disease. That link has since been discredited and, following recent measles outbreaks, the father changed his mind in the interests of the girls’ health.
He wrote to the mother, but she remains adamant that the girls should not be vaccinated. The father responded by taking the mother to court.
Mrs Justice Theis ruled that vaccination was in the best interests of the children.
Thoughts on the case: ‘It took less than four months from the first application to trial, which anyone familiar with the family courts will know is very fast. The case may have been fast-tracked because of the public policy implications of MMR safety. The girls had taken an interest in MMR and were assured that they would be listened to. Vaccinations are not 100% harmless, as the government knows. Its Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme paid out £3.5m to victims between 1997 and 2005.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘It’s a brilliant job, being able to understand the law and protect yourself and others.’
Career high: ‘I acted for one of the councillors in the Westminster “homes for votes” case. It was all about politics and we won.’
Career low: ‘I was nearly hit in court by the solicitor on the other side [in another case]. Counsel had to intervene.’