A family whose baby suffered brain damage when doctors refused to deliver him by Caesarean section is set to be paid millions of pounds in compensation.

Alison Jones, 46, had asked for the Caesarean for the birth of her fourth child, Ellis, after complications during her previous pregnancies.

She feared a scar on her uterus could rupture and put the baby at risk.

Hospital staff played down her worries and induced labour but the scar burst and Ellis received devastating brain injuries.

Yesterday, lawyers representing Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust at the High Court in London apologised to the family and admitted staff had failed them.

That has paved the way for Ellis, seven, to be handed millions of pounds in compensation from the trust as a result of the injuries he suffered at the Royal Sussex County Hospital on September 3, 1999.

He suffers from severe cerebral palsy, and although as intelligent as other children his age, cannot speak, is reliant on a wheelchair and will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Mrs Jones also suffered serious injuries during the birth and had to battle back from a drink problem after becoming depressed.

The family, from Seaford, hope to use the compensation to fund the purchase of new technology that will allow Ellis to use a computer using just his eyes.

It was the family's case that Mrs Jones's wish for a Caesarean section should have been met and that other problems during the birth were not reacted to quickly enough.

The family's barrister, Dr Tejina Mangat, said that had Ellis been delivered just minutes earlier, he would have been perfectly healthy.

The NHS Trust has already admitted full liability for the injuries suffered by Ellis - who has three brothers and sisters aged between ten and 17 - and for those his mother suffered.

The trust's barrister, Paul Rees QC, told the court: "I can't turn the clock back and no form of wording can put that right. But the family are entitled to hear in a public forum that Ellis and Mrs Jones did not receive the standard of care to which they were entitled and they are entitled to have a full apology."

The exact amount of compensation Ellis will receive has not yet been set because lawyers are waiting for an Appeal Court ruling which will determine whether he gets damages in the form of payments throughout his life or a lump sum.

However, the figure will run into millions of pounds, and in similar cases sums of up to £8 million have been awarded.

After approving the terms of the settlement and adjourning the case until after the Court of Appeal decision - which is expected later this year - Mr Justice Forbes paid tribute to Ellis and his family.

He said: "I find myself full of admiration for Mr and Mrs Jones's love and devotion which they have shown, do show and will no doubt show in the future.

"It is clear Ellis is a remarkable little boy who makes a very important contribution to the lives of all who know him and love him."