Nerve gas death was 'unlawful'

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by tebagagap, Nov 15, 2004.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Nerve gas death was 'unlawful'

    Ronald Maddison died after an experiment at Porton Down

    The inquest into a young airman who died 51 years ago in secret nerve gas tests has ruled that his death was unlawful.

    Ronald Maddison, 20, from County Durham, died after being exposed to sarin at Porton Down in Wiltshire.

    The original inquest in 1953 ruled that Leading Aircraftman Maddison's death was caused by misadventure.

    In 2002, the High Court quashed that verdict and ordered that a new inquest should be held.

    The jury concluded that the cause of Mr Maddison's death was "application of a nerve agent in a non-therapeutic experiment".

    'Russian Roulette'

    An MoD spokesman said: "The Ministry of Defence notes the jury's findings and will now take some time to reflect on these.

    "We will be seeking legal advice on whether we wish to consider a judicial review.

    "We don't believe the verdict today has implications for other volunteers. However, we will consider the implications."

    The original inquest was held behind closed doors "for reasons of national security".

    Volunteer Terry Alderson said outside the court: "It was Russian Roulette, Ronald Maddison was just the first."

    "Reading between the lines they have got away with murder.

    "Our health was never monitored afterwards and nobody knows how many died."

    Prosecution lawyer Alan Kerr said: "We would now join with the Porton Down veterans in calling for a public inquiry.

    Operation Antler

    Mr Maddison's family has claimed that he was tricked into taking part and was told he was helping to find a cure for the common cold.

    Mr Maddison was exposed to 200 milligrammes of sarin which was dropped on to a piece of uniform material which was wrapped around his arm.

    The second inquiry was prompted after ex-serviceman Gordon Bell complained to Wiltshire Police that he had been duped into similar tests.

    The constabulary then launched Operation Antler which looked at experiments which used chemical and biological agents at government research centre Porton Down between 1939 and 1989.

    The operation found that the coroner at the original inquest was "not apparently provided with all the potentially available material".

    The outcome could lead to legal action by the veterans of Porton Down - They claim they were duped into taking part in similar dangerous trials.

    The hearing, at Trowbridge Magistrates' Court, lasted six months.
  2. This is landmark! I am so please with this outcome, it is justice.
    The implications are across the board and WILL be rippling for many years and into many corners....
    A message has been sent and coupled with the FOI will mean no file will be off limits...
    Time to take stock of who suffered what, when and why...
    Do I hear a death knell or is that just me?


  3. I'm not so sure. All the people to take part in experiments at Porton Down were volunteers. All were paid extra for their services and all were given the option to take part or otherwise before every experiment. They did it out of curiosity, the money or to get away from the boredom of the day to day humdrum of life serving in the cold war.

    I'm sure over the years much was learnt that has helped servicemen and women live and fight in an NBC environment (even if it never happened for real), I'm damn sure that nobody believed the stories of "finding a cure for the common cold" (I know nobody I knew when requests for volunteers appeared on orders did) and I'm sure that sometimes things went wrong.... they were after all experiments.

    But they were volunteers. If someone decides to play on a railway track do you blame the driver when they are killed? If you are killed or injured in action as a soldier do you blame movements for getting you there?

    It's part of the culture that we live in today that thinks everything has to be 100% safe, and in an ideal world that may be the case. But to try and portion blame on a system that had to live outside the 100% safe world, in a time when things were on the edge of the third war (more than once), is just not being realistic.

    A tradgic death, but there were many many more soldiers killed on FTXs in Germany because the training had to be realistic, training for the war that never came. Many of those didn't volunteer.

    Time to wake up an smell the coffee
  4. BBC, the death at Porton Down was in the early 1950s when NBC was still an area that needed a lot of testing and experiments. The servicmen involved in the experiments between 1939 and 1989 were all volunteers, paid extra per experiment and allowed to refuse to take part in any experiment they weren't happy with. I saw enough requests for volunteers on orders throughout the 1980s.

    The evidence you have thown back at me is about the first Gulf War and a different matter entirly.

    Stop sniffing your nail varnish remover and try and think before posting :?
  5. If I was told the experiment was for the common cold, volunteered then I found that the people who carried out those experiments and those who set them up knew that they where actually for chemical and biological experimentation would I be fair in my assumption I had been lied to regardless of the payment I received or the fact I was a volunteer?

    Can I then assume that I was, in fact, illegally experimented on?

    PS the link was of a comparative, a modern day situation where we have found ourselves with unanswered questions as to the ethical decisions to inject vast numbers of military personnel with a cocktail of drugs. Then to deny the responsibility even after evidence has been introduced to indicate there was no sound bases of research into the reactions of individuals, given their medical history or other factors. When more rigorous checks if carried out may have shown a contrary indication to the administration of the said drugs or that may have highlighted the need for an alternative combination and caused less damage.

    PPS glue, never nail varnish.
  6. [quote="blessed baby cakes
    If I was told the experiment was for the common cold, volunteered then I found that the people who carried out those experiments and those who set them up knew that they where actually for chemical and biological experimentation would I be fair in my assumption I had been lied to regardless of the payment I received or the fact I was a volunteer?Can I then assume that I was, in fact, illegally experimented on?quote]

    Right on, BBC. The answer's an emphatic "yes". It doesn't matter if volunteers guessed they weren't guinea-pigs for cold cures. They were lied to. End of story, start of justified legal action.
  7. It's never right to risk soldiers' lives unnecessarily. Use animals if there has to be a potentially lethal test.
  8. Like I said before there were a lot of soldiers who died on exercise on the big FTXs in Gerany. Right? Maybe not. But to send a soldier in to a war without him being able to train realisticaly? Criminal.

    My question was, why should you make all the fuss over an airman who volunteered when a lot more died when they didn't? Doesn't seem very logical to me.
  9. He didn't volunteer; he wasn't given the facts.
    PP there is no argument here.
    These men where not in full possession of the facts.
    If they had been and died then that would have been different.
    If you want to make a comparative make it to something related,
    Try the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, another groups of men lied to...
    If it had been in Britain would you be saying it was justified.
    Show me justification for these men being lied to!
  10. Or failing that, a few MP's spring to mind
  11. Its difficult to judge what happened then by our eyes 50 years later. WW2 was over but we were faced with communist domination. Learning how to fight and survive on an atomic battlefield was important. Only much later did people know these tests cost them their health. The government paid compensation of $50,000 - $75,000 to each person involved. My father told me how he was disappointed in not being selected to view one of these tests. Now he counts his lucky stars at 85 while those that did attend arent around today. Is it right ? Maybe not but the information derived from the various experiments was helpful. It would be nice if the government would fully disclose the risks that test subjects face but sometimes the full range of risks are not known until later, many years later. Fifty years after the fact
    we can be judgemental but at a time when the atomic age was new, risks to our nation's were immense sometimes you have to err on the side of whats best for the common good. Is it worth losing 1000 men in a test that might save a million ? Ten million ? A hundred million ? Those types of decisions are made at the top and the risks are weighed against the gain. Roosevelt
    authorized the Manhatten Project. Truman had to decide whether to use the weapon that the project produced. He weighed the loss of life to both Japan and allied forces that would have to invade the islands. I for one am glad he made the decision because my father's division had been transferred from germany to the pacific and would have been involved in the invasion of the home islands. By the time they reached Japan they became the occupation force. Tough decisions made by our elected leaders. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong.
  12. Nearly every war this country has fought in has been surrounded by misrepresentation, so by your chain of thought no soldier signs up voluntarily, as they are not in full possession of the facts?

    I think the ruling is right, however the men who ordered his, to put it bluntly, death had to play devils advocate. I like to think his life was not in vain, but in fact potentially saved thousands of lives, doesn't make it any lesser of a tragedy, but many a thing that protects this country aren't glamorous, or right.