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Boxer fails to win damages

PUBLISHED: 04:23 08 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

AN ARMY boxer from Ipswich whose lawyers argued he should never have been allowed to take part in an inter-company fight that left him brain damaged, failed in an Appeal Court bid to win the right to damages.

AN ARMY boxer from Ipswich whose lawyers argued he should never have been allowed to take part in an inter-company fight that left him brain damaged, failed in an Appeal Court bid to win the right to damages.

Private Adrian Fox, 32, of Geneva Road, was medically retired from the 1st Battalion of The Royal Anglian Regiment after suffering permanent brain damage in the bout arranged to boost morale during a tour of duty in Bosnia in September 1995.

Mr Fox, who joined the army at the age of 20, claimed he was "pressed" to go out for the third round of the featherweight contest while suffering from a high temperature, possibly due to a 24-hour bug.

He sued the Ministry of Defence for substantial damages, but his claim he was coerced into fighting was dismissed by Deputy High Court Judge, John Leighton Williams QC, in June last year.

Yesterday Kieran May QC, for Mr Fox, asked the Court of Appeal to reconsider his case, claiming he should have been prevented from fighting by the doctor who examined him before the bout.

Mr May argued his client should have been prevented from boxing because he was running a temperature and was in no position to properly defend himself so as a result had been more "susceptible to brain injury" from a direct blow to the head.

But Mr Fox's appeal was dismissed by Lord Justice Kennedy, sitting with Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Neuberger.

The judge said Mr Fox had suffered concussion in a boxing bout in 1989 and headaches after a motorcycle crash in 1993, which he had not mentioned to the "caring and thorough doctor" who examined him before the fight.

"The doctor didn't have access to the full army medical records and all Mr Fox told the doctor was of boxing uneventfully in November 1994.

"Whether Mr Fox's withholding of information was deliberate or not is irrelevant, because the taking of the history by the doctor was plainly entirely compatible with all that was required of him."

The judge added that Mr Fox's temperature of 37.4C before the bout – which the doctor at the time had thought was "at the upper end of normal" – had been seen by a medical expert later as "indicative of infection."

He said the trial judge was entitled to conclude that the doctor who examined Mr Fox before the fight had adopted an approach "in line with other members of the profession."

"He was entitled, it seems to me, to treat Mr Fox as being fit to box. That is conclusive as far as this appeal is concerned," said Lord Justice Kennedy.

"There was no evidence that the temperature of 37.4C while somewhat raised, did in the end have anything to do with the tragedy which overtook him later on. Mr Fox was able to box well for two rounds. There was no evidence of infection.

"In the circumstances, the judge was entitled to take the stance that he did. For these reasons, despite the sympathy that the judge undoubtedly felt, as do I, this appeal must be dismissed."


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