A group of disabled youths in Great Britain has won a landmark legal battle against a council they say caused their conditions by exposing their pregnant mothers to dangerous toxic waste.

The 18 young people — all with deformed hands and feet — claimed the birth defects were due to Corby Borough Council allowing their mothers to be exposed to an "atmospheric soup of toxic materials."

The council — which was responsible for a former steelworks that transported the dangerous chemicals — was found liable at London's High Court today.

But Justice Akenhead said his ruling on liability did not cover the two youngest claimants. The Northamptonshire council had denied that it was negligent during dismantling works at Corby's former British Steel plant between 1985 and 1999, and that there was a link between the removal of waste to a quarry north of the site and deformities affecting hands and feet.

Lawyers for the children said that it was the first time that, following the negligent release of toxic material into the atmosphere, a court has found that this material can be inhaled and ingested by pregnant women and is capable of causing serious birth defects to their children.

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