We'll keep on fighting against phone masts

Jan 24 2006

By Campbell Docherty

A couple who faced losing their home for a second time following a two-year battle with a mobile phone company last night pledged to continue their fight against phone masts.

Agnes Ingvarsdottir, aged 61, and her 63-year-old husband Eirikur Petursson, from Worcester, yesterday agreed to pay Hutchison 3G legal costs incurred during their unsuccessful court battle against the company.

They had launched a legal bid to have a mast removed from the top of a pub neighbouring their Grade II-listed home in Worcester after claiming to have experienced a range of health problems, including nausea and headaches.

The couple, who spent £300,000 fighting the case, said they were forced to sell their home in August 2005, two years after the mast became operational, for £220,000 - at least £50,000 below market value.

In September last year they were ordered to pay the mobile phone giant - better known as 3 - £407,398 in legal fees.

They disputed the amount and the cost was later dropped to £109,000.

At Birmingham County Court yesterday, a confidential final settlement - understood to be under £100,000 - was agreed.

Mr Petursson, who now lives with his wife in Malvern, told The Birmingham Post: "We would have lost our new home too if we had to pay the first amount we were ordered to. We have lost our business because of all the time and energy we have spent on this.

"Agnes is too ill to work now and I have become an employee of someone else. Even then it has been difficult because of the amount of time we have spent on the case."

Mrs Ingvarsdottir runs a website - http://www.mast-victims.org - dedicated to fighting the erection of phone masts in residential areas. It features case studies from across the globe.

She said: "I will continue fighting masts until the bitter end. I am not against mobile phones, I can see the plus points in them. But putting up masts where people live is the most indecent thing you can do.

"Really, the worst people in all this are those neighbours who agree to let the companies put them up in the first place."

After losing the case against 3, Mrs Ingvarsdottir was pessimistic about the chances of private individuals bringing successful actions against mobile phone companies.

"I don't think this will be won in the courts, I think it will be won through scientific research now.

"In the past it has been easy to disregard scientific evidence because it has not been duplicated but now studies are being done to verify previous work.

"But I think our experience has put off individual people taking court cases because they can now see these companies do not want to be messed with."

Mrs Ingvarsdottir added there was a worldwide groundswell of people questioning the health impacts of mobile phone masts.

"Little by little, we are becoming a big international group. The website has 56 stories from people from places like Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, Canada, the USA and Australia.

"I have more waiting to be put up there because I haven't had the time recently.

"Since the site started, there have been 27,000 visitors logging on to look at it."

The couple and their 42-year-old son Neils Erickson, who all moved to England from Denmark in 1999 to run a business designing and making air filtering systems, said they began to suffer from ill health when the mast became operational on the roof of the Little Sauce Factory pub.

But their attempt to prove the mast caused the symptoms was thrown out by the High Court and they were instructed to pay the company's legal costs.

No one from Hutchison 3G was available for comment last night.

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