A DISABLED boy who was starved of oxygen at birth was yesterday awarded nearly £3m in damages against a hospital.

Luke Walker, now 15, has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair because of the error at the former Hartlepool General Hospital in September 1986.

His parents, Diane and John Walker, were praised by a High Court judge yesterday for their "selfless" care of their son.

Five years ago, the family were forced to emigrate to Hungary so Luke could receive the best specialist medical treatment he needed for his condition.

Luke's barrister, James Watson, told the hearing in Middlesbrough that Mr and Mrs Walker had insisted none of the damages award, which amounts to £2.9m, should go to them.

Tees Health Authority admitted negligence and apologised to Luke's parents.

Paul Ross, representing the authority, said: "He is a tremendously cheerful and positive young man with a lively character, and his parents can be justifiably proud of what he has done.

"This award will provide security for Luke in the future and maximise his quality of life. The health authority offer a full and unresolved apology. They are truly sorry."

Judge Michael Taylor ordered an interim award of £500 be handed to his barrister so Luke could buy a treat to mark the occasion.

The judge added: "His parents deserve the most tremendous praise. They have sacrificed their lives for the benefit of their son. He will go far in life."

A spokeswoman for Tees Health Authority said last night: "The authority endorses the praise given by the judge to Mr and Mrs Walker for their dedication in their care and support of their son, and hopes that this award will provide financial security for Luke."