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DU - Gulf War veterans

November 3, 1999


ORDEAL: Paul Connolly today

Stricken hero who feels his country has abandoned him


WHEN Paul Connolly looks at his Gulf War service medal he is filled with pride for having done his duty for his country.

It shows remarkable loyalty considering he feels abandoned by the Government that employed him and then failed by those people he thought were protecting him.

Today he suffers a rare kidney condition affecting just one in 500,000 adults, his partner has left him, he has lost his home and his job and, unable to qualify for a war pension, he has to survive on 70 a week.

Six weeks ago he began the dialysis treatment which is vital to maintaining his health. The 37-year-old engineer was sent to the Gulf to maintain the filtration and cooling systems to keep the Army operating in the desert.

"I often had to blow the dust out of the filters with my mouth. I used to finish the day covered in sand which really ground into the skin," he said at his home in Woking, Surrey, yesterday.

"Within three months of returning to the UK in 1991, I had given up the job I had done for eight years. I had always done intense manual work but now I was too tired to do anything." In 1993, he was diagnosed as suffering from nephritic syndrome, a rare kidney complaint which causes the organ to leak proteins. MAP tests in 1994 said that apart from a slight renal problem and mild post-traumatic stress disorder, he was fine. But in April this year, he returned to his consultant, Dr Mike Bending at St Helliers Hospital, Carshalton, and was told his illness could have been caused by heavy metal poisoning including DU exposure.

He said: "I had been reading about war veterans suffering kidney damage and DU poisoning but I had never really connected my illness with my service. I sought, with the help of my brothers Ivor and Kevin, a meeting with Professor Lee.

"He agreed to do the test and we walked out of there delighted because we were at last going to get to the truth. I had to spend 24 hours at St Thomas' Hospital in London and my urine was collected before being sent for analysis. Within a month I had the results from Imperial College stating I had not been exposed to DU.

"But when we sent the data from those results to three of the most eminent radiation scientists, they said it looked as if I had. We were astonished and began trying to find out what techniques Imperial College had used."

Ivor spoke to Dr Richard Benzing, manager of the department where the tests were conducted.

He said he was staggered by the written reply he received from Dr Benzing which stated "we estimate we will not be able to reach the sensitivity required for the determination of uranium in urine with the ICP-MS we have in our laboratory."

Ivor said: "We couldn't believe it. We had requested from MAP a DU test, we had correspondence from MAP confirming a DU test would be done and yet the machinery was not even up to it."

In September, Ivor and Kevin again met Professor Lee on their brother's behalf and took with them radiation scientist Professor Hari Sharma. It was at that meeting that Professor Lee admitted for the first time that Paul had not been tested for DU exposure.

Ivor said: "We were furious. We had asked for, and been assured we would get, a DU test. Now we were being told that had not happened and we had to tell our brother that the results giving him the all-clear were not accurate."Paul Connolly is now paying to have his own tests carried out at a British lab.

Express Newspapers, 1999

This was murder, says family of volunteer killed in secret experiment


AN airman who died from nerve gas experiments at the top-secret Porton Down chemical warfare base was murdered, relatives claimed yesterday.

The family of human guinea pig Ronald Maddison spoke out for the first time after new revelations of the ordeal he and other volunteers suffered in the l950s.

Mr Maddison's sister, Lilias Craik, who called for a public inquiry, said: "If he had died in the war, then I could understand it.

"But to die over some stupid stuff they put on his arm, which you shouldn't do to anybody, then I am sorry, I think they murdered him."

Mr Maddison, 20, of Consett, County Durham, died after a nerve chemical was dripped on to uniform material taped to his arm at the Ministry of Defence research centre 46 years ago. It is claimed he and many more servicemen were duped into the trials by being asked to volunteer for research into the common cold.

His cousin, Ella Forster, 79, yesterday joined the growing campaign for all the facts behind the experiments to be disclosed.

She said: "I think now that it has been brought into the open again it should be thoroughly thrashed out. I just want the truth."

Mr Maddison's death is being investigated by Wiltshire police, who have been authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service to examine a possible case of corporate manslaughter. Mike Cox, who was based at RAF Calshot in Hampshire, said he was tested alongside Mr Maddison, who collapsed and died after being exposed to the agent, believed to be the deadly Sarin used in the l995 Tokyo subway attack.

He claimed scientists at Porton Down knew that a relatively small amount of the gas, also used by Saddam Hussein in attacks on Kurdish villages, could kill.

Mr Cox, of Southampton, speaking in a BBC documentary screened last night, said: "We had no idea what was expected of us, but we were thrown the carrot of extra money, plus several days' extra leave.

"It was a very uncomfortable experience. We sat there and played noughts and crosses to while away the time.

"Part of the way through the test, Maddison, who was sitting next to me, slumped over.

"Two people came and sort of half-carried him out of the door. At that stage, we assumed he'd fainted. After the test was finished, we left the chamber and we assumed Ronnie had gone off to the sick bay.

"It was not until I read a piece in the paper that I knew Ronnie had died." Mr Maddison was serving at RAF Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, when he volunteered to go to Porton Down.

His death certificate says he died from asphyxia, but the inquest was held in camera and details are still secret. His coffin was made of steel and bolted shut when it was delivered to the family home for the funeral.

The official report into Mr Maddison's death says he was given 20 drops of Sarin and was "particularly susceptible" to the agent.

But Alastair Hay, a toxicologist at Leeds University, who examined documents from Porton Down, said it was clear volunteers had been given highly dangerous doses.

"They were playing with fire," he said. "They were exposing people to concentrations which in the event only killed one man but were not far off, perhaps, killing a number of others."The row over Mr Maddison's death follows allegations by another serviceman, Gordon Bell, 61, who says he was also used as a guinea pig at the centre in l953 and has since suffered unexplained skin problems.

Express Newspapers, 1999


Some personal observations following on from the newspaper stories I posted to this list earlier today.

There was a meeting of the Select Defence Committee (SDC) planned for this year, veterans were invited for the first time to give evidence regarding GWS. That meeting has now been postponed. because of the embarrassment surrounding the lies told by previous Armed Forces Ministers, on the subjects of depleted uranium and their alleged openness with relevant MOD documentation. The system by which Members of Parliament police the activities of other Members of Parliament permits such evasive luxuries. Such is the downside of democracy.

Regardless of the advice of the spin-doctors, this issue will not subside with time. As today's stories show, the MOD have again attempted to deceive and mislead worried veterans and their doctors, by offering total uranium and not depleted uranium measurements at the Medical Assessment Programme. They did this to save political face in the wake of media coverage and parliamentary questions.

The MOD (and DOD) claim that levels of uranium currently being found in veterans after 8 years, is well below the accepted safe limit and there are no associated health risks. Insisting that those levels are consistent with normal background exposure from environmental sources.

The ratio of uranium isotopes found in veterans of the Gulf War is NOT consistent with environmental exposures. We have a large percentage of depleted uranium, which after 8 years has been excreted, diluted and added to by environmental natural uranium. Thus complicating the ratio for the analysts. But the fact it is in us is inescapable, and it should not be there. For detectable levels of DU to be present in our urine after such a long time, the initial exposure must have been very high indeed.

As time goes by for the surviving gulf veterans and those who have escaped the really serious carcinogenic and mutagenic consequences. It would seem that the body loading of DU is falling and so are the health risks. However, the surviving veterans are the lucky ones. Can any of us honestly say that we do not know of any brother or sister in arms who has died of cancer OR leukaemia OR had children with birth defects?

(Just yesterday another 32 year old British Gulf Veteran was discovered to have a slow growing inoperable tumour.)

The MOD/DOD have been well aware of the dangers and hazards of DU since the 1980's SISC report. Yet failed to implement the necessary safety measures that would be expected of any employer. The MOD and I assume the DOD, have knowingly and wilfully failed to make public the results of isotope ratio determinations that were conducted several years ago in secret. On specimens provided by unknowing veterans at the MOD Medical Assessment Programme. Evidence of this research and monitoring was secured from the MAP when several documents came into the possession of veterans.

Veteran associations and their legal representatives have a difficult decision to make regarding their former members and clients. The families of those veterans who have died of diseases that may have been depleted uranium induced, must now ask the obvious questions and seek justice. Ignorance on the part of the MOD/DOD is no longer a feasible excuse.

Regardless of the other aspects of GWS, failure of the associations and solicitors to address this matter can and WILL be regarded as negligent.

Angus Parker

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. ***

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