Who? Hilary Meredith, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, Cheshire.
Why is she in the news? Her firm was approached by more than 1,000 British troops prescribed controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam. They suffered from mental health issues and neuropsychiatric side-effects.
The government last week released its response to a House of Commons Defence Committee report which recommended ending the use of Lariam for armed forces except in restricted cases. The MoD announced that Lariam will now only be prescribed to service personnel after a face-to-face check-up, but it refused to take on board the recommendation that Lariam should be a ‘drug of last resort’.
Thoughts on the case: ‘I am disappointed. As well as refusing to commit to using Lariam only as a drug of last resort, the MoD neither acknowledges the failings of the past nor reassures about the future. The defence committee made very strong criticisms of the unsafe ways in which Lariam has been administered in the past but the MoD has simply not addressed those criticisms.’
Dealing with the media: ‘There have been reports about the side-effects of Lariam for many years. The issue became mainstream last month when former Army chief Lord Dannatt gave a BBC interview in which he admitted that he refused to take Lariam despite it being offered to his troops. Lord Dannatt also said his son Bertie had suffered from mental health problems after taking Lariam and apologised to troops under his command for allowing them to take it.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted to teach sport but an accident ended that. So I took time out to consider my options and came up with law as a desire to help others and push the boundaries.’
Career high: ‘I gave evidence at the Parliamentary Inquiry ‘Beyond Endurance’ after three fatalities in military training on the Brecon Beacons. I suggested that the MoD’s immunity from health and safety prosecution be removed. The inquiry agreed with me and recommended the law be changed.’
Career low: ‘Finding out that two of my clients are to be prosecuted by the Iraq Historic Allegations team for an incident they were cleared of 10 years ago.’