Actress in Court Challenge over Herbal Remedy Ban
Actress Jenny Seagrove strongly resented a countrywide ban which prevents her from using an ancient herbal remedy to cope with the problem of sleeplessness, the High Court was told today.
A judge heard the Malaysian-born leading lady was upset over the states interference with her freedom to choose to take kava-kava, known for its anti-stress and soothing properties.
Ms Seagrove joined the National Association for Health Stores (NAHS) in a challenge to the legality of Government decisions which have made it an offence to import or sell the product since January 13 .
The UK market for kava-kava products was estimated to have been worth up to 7.5 million a year before the ban.
Rhodri Thompson QC, appearing for both Ms Seagrove and the association, said it was imposed following unproved reports linking kava-kava to people who had suffered liver damage.
He argued the decision was substantially flawed and unlawful.
He told Mr Justice Crane, sitting at the High Court in London, it had been taken on the basis of incomplete and unsatisfactory data.
Tobacco products caused thousands of deaths yet remained on the market, whilst kava-kava had been banned because there was a handful of suspect cases.
Evidence before the Department of Health suggested that, world wide, there had been six liver transplants and three-four deaths over the past 10-15 years, and these were most probably not caused by kava-kava at all, said Mr Thompson.
He said of the ban: Both my clients strongly resent this interference with their freedom of choice and freedom to trade.
Ms Seagrove speaks on behalf of all those individuals who have found kava-kava to be a valuable product without side effects.
The product was used to relieve pain and anxiety, and in Ms Seagroves case, sleeplessness.
He said the NAHS represented some 426 health stores and the wider commercial interests who wished to continue trading in kava-kava products, including those who produced it in the relatively undeveloped Pacific region.
Mr Thompson described how Kava had been used by Pacific islanders for over a thousand years as a relaxing and stress relieving drink, and was the national drink of Fiji and Tonga.