Legal Highs: Ban At Reading Leeds Festival

Frazer Maude, North of England Correspondent
Legal Highs: Ban At Reading Leeds Festival

The parents of a man who died after taking a "legal high" drug have welcomed a decision by the organisers of a music festival to ban the products from their sites.

Christopher Scott, 23, from Swindon, died at the Great Western Hospital in July after taking the chemical marketed as AMT (alpha-Methyltryptamine).

His father Michael says the family are "so pleased" that promoters of the Leeds and Reading Festivals have banned the sale or use of legal highs at the events this weekend.

"Everybody knows illegal drugs - there's a big risk behind them - but as soon as you start saying 'oh it's a legal high' you get the misconception that it's okay," said Michael.

"They think it's not dangerous, it's legal, so it must be fine. And then they get the impression they can take as many as they want."

Christopher was a father of three and only after his death did his family find out that his partner was pregnant with his fourth child.

The Government finds it hard to legislate against the drugs, as whenever one is banned the manufacturers only have to make slight changes to the chemical formula in order for the new compound to be legal again.

Former legal highs Mexxy and Black Mamba are now classified as Class B drugs, and are therefore illegal.

Sky News bought a number of the legal highs from a shop in the North of England, including AMT which Mr Scott took.

They are also freely available on the internet.

The websites, sales staff and the packaging of the chemicals all warn that these items are not for human consumption, but are for research purposes.

Melvin Benn, organiser of the Leeds and Reading Festivals, said: "We were happy to fall in line with the Home Office request and not allow these legal highs to be sold on site.

"No one really knows what effects these things have, and of course people are still going to take them. But they won't be buying them from retailers at any of my festivals."

Mr Scott and his family used to make annual visits to the Reading Festival.

Although delighted that the festival has banned the drugs, Mr Scott's father believes more needs to be done.

"The Government needs to really seriously rethink what it's doing with this concept of legal highs. Just the word 'legal' is making everyone think it's ok to do it, that it's fine. It's not," he said.

"I'm never going get my son back. I only had one son and I'm never going to get him back."