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THE VULTURE; EXCLUSIVE Exposed.. hospital porter who tried to sell pictures of the drug trial victims.

Byline: By GREIG BOX and KRISSY STORRAR

A HOSPITAL porter yesterday tried to cash in on the misery of the drug trial victims.

Callous Ayman Shalash offered to take secret photographs of the stricken patients in their beds for EUR3,000.

He told our reporter: "I can get in the intensive care units no problem because I'm staff.

"I'll get the sack but I don't care. I'll get you a picture of the one that looks like the Elephant Man. But I want cash. I want more for that. He'll make a good picture."

His vile move came as six men remained in intensive care last night, two of them in critical condition.

It is possible they may not fully recover, but four of them yesterday gave relatives hope by communicating with sign language.

Shalash - a part-time worker at the Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, West London, where the horror happened - approached our reporter outside the main entrance.

Describing his plan, he said: "I can take plenty of pictures. I'll hide the phone under my arm and then just do it. Click, click.

"It'll be easy. I can get pictures of the ward with the victims."

Shalash, a student in his mid 20s from Cricklewood, North London, darted behind a tree after spotting his boss drive past.

He exclaimed: "I don't care if I lose my job, it's s**t anyway. If you pay me a couple of grand it's worth it, I'll just get another job. This is too good an opportunity to miss."

While investigations into what went wrong intensified last night, a solicitor acting for the 29-year-old victim with the severely swollen head said there was confusion over whether the drug had been successfully tested on animals. The company later stated tests had been successful.

Chief scientific officer of TeGenero - the German firm which makes the TGN1412 drug - dismissed claims animals had died in earlier tests. Thomas Hanke said: "We saw no drug-related adverse events in the animals and there were no drug-related deaths."

The devastated family of the Irish victim Ryan Wilson Flanagan, 21, - whose head has swollen to three times its normal size - yesterday spoke of their grief.

From the family home in Dublin his distraught aunt Dolores Flanagan said: "We are all grieving. We are in a terrible state. Ryan is lying there and there is nothing we can do to help him." His mother Marion is understood to be near her son's bedside.

Meanwhile, an Irish Medical Board spokesman said yesterday: "The IMB are aware of the clinical trial in the UK, however this trial was not being conducted in Ireland."

Experts around the world have united in the desperate search for a cure. TeGenero has flown in 20 doctors to help the medical team.

mirrornews@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

SHAMED: Shalash demands EUR3,000 for the photos yesterday' SICK: Ryan Wilson' BEDSIDE VIGIL: Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, West London Picture: CHRIS GRIEVE
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2006
Words:492
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