A Surrey petting farm has been found wholly liable for an E. coli outbreak which made 93 people ill, most of them children.

A total of 76 children under the age of 10 became ill after they contracted E. coli at Godstone Farm in 2009.

The farm claimed the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and Tandridge District Council should share responsibility.

But now the High Court has ruled that the farm had ultimate responsibility.  "This is quite an important decision for farms around the country," said victims' lawyer Jill Greenfield.
"The High Court made it very clear that the farm have ultimate responsibility - they can't try and pass this on to other authorities."

Some of the children suffered acute kidney failure after contracting E. coli following a trip to Godstone Farm when they were two.  Other toddlers were also seriously ill on dialysis, and many of the children affected now have compromised kidney functioning.

The Health Protection Agency linked the farm to the disease on 27 August 2009, but it remained open until 11 September 2009. At the time, farm owner Richard Oatway said he had followed HPA advice on cutting the risk of the disease, but did not receive instruction that he had to close.