Mum’s plea for ban on laser im­ports

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY CHAR­LOTTE OLIVER

WHEN HER eight-year-old son Jonathan begged her to buy him a laser pen from a school fair, An­gela Mar­shall felt lit­tle cause for con­cern.

But the mother of three was left in shock when, two days later, Jonathan came home com­plain­ing of “black shad­ows and blue spots” in his vi­sion.

An im­me­di­ate rush to Moor­fields Eye Hos­pi­tal in cen­tral Lon­don af­ter the in­ci­dent last month found that he had burnt his retina af­ter shin­ing the laser pen in his eye.

“Be­cause the back of his eye is scarred, they don’t know whether his eye will heal,” Mrs Mar­shall ex­plained.

“The worry is that, as he gets older, his eye will get weaker. He al­ready wears glasses for poor eye­sight.”

Mrs Mar­shall, a fundraiser for Jewish Care, has launched a na­tional cam­paign to pre­vent the im­por­ta­tion of laser point­ers into the UK from Asia.

It is cur­rently il­le­gal to man­u­fac­ture them here, but not im­port them; and al­though the coun­try’s con­sumer safety reg­u­la­tions cover th­ese prod­ucts, in re­al­ity, they of­ten ar­rive unchecked.

“Th­ese prod­ucts are com­ing in from China, and the reg­u­la­tions are not be­ing en­forced,” Mrs Mar­shall said. “We want to see a to­tal ban on them com­ing in and ac­tion be­ing taken against peo­ple who sell them. What are laser pens for any­way? They don’t need to be here as a toy.”

Jonathan Mar­shall was in­jured by the toy pen

The fam­ily, mem­bers of Bushey United Syn­a­gogue, are work­ing with Hertsmere MP Oliver Dow­den to raise aware­ness of the dan­gers of laser toys.

A ques­tion was tabled in Par­lia­ment last week re­gard­ing the regulation of im­ports and, in March, of­fi­cials from the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Skills are due to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Mr Dow­den said: “There ap­pears to be a wor­ry­ing loop­hole which al­lows th­ese dan­ger­ous pens to be im­ported, when it’s il­le­gal to man­u­fac­ture them here. I’ve al­ready taken this up with the Busi­ness Sec­re­tary and will be pur­su­ing it in Par­lia­ment.”

Mrs Mar­shall said: “For me, it is about en­sur­ing that other chil­dren don’t go through this.

“At the mo­ment, Jonathan seems lucky — he only sees shad­ows when he is tired. But imag­ine if it had been a baby whose eyes crossed through the beam.

“The prob­lem is the lack of ac­tion be­ing taken to high­light just how dan­ger­ous th­ese toys are.”

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