A US lawyer who has already collected the scalps of asbestos and tobacco firms has filed suit against a number of mobile phone companies.

Peter Angelos, a Baltimore lawyer who achieved legal fame with victories over asbestos manufacturers and tobacco companies, has filed claims against 25 mobile firms claiming they knew mobile phone use posed potential health risks but failed to tell the public.

US mobile phone makers are already fighting personal injury lawsuits filed by a neurologist claiming his mobile phone caused his brain cancer.

Studies by UK and US government bodies failed to find conclusive proof that mobile phones adversely affect users' health.

Last week Angelos filed class-action lawsuits (in which a group of people sues the same defendant over the same issue) against Motorola, Verizon and 23 other wireless companies in four US states.

The suits do not allege mobile phones directly cause brain cancers. But Angelos claims the handset makers knew there were health risks, including the possibility of brain tumours, and failed to warn users or to address those risks by providing earpieces with all phones.

Europe has a great many more mobile phone users than the US and, if the case goes against US handset firms, European manufacturers such as Ericsson and Nokia could also become targets of litigation.