Porton Down - New National Geographic documentary talks to victims
Friday March 14, 2008 01:09 by Tony Gosling
Ken Earle, RAF Senior Aircraftman describes being duped into participating in a life threatening experiment
Servicemen were deliberately subjected to lethal doses of poison in secret tests at Porton Down.
Ken Earle, RAF Senior Aircraftman describes being duped into participating in a life threatening experiment at Porton Down in Wiltshire
Chemical warfare: Inside Britain's toxic house of horrors
Lethal doses of poison were tested on troops, says report into top secret Porton Down
Servicemen were deliberately subjected to lethal doses of poison in secret tests at Porton Down, an official report will admit this week.
The Ministry of Defence is now braced for a flood of compensation claims from volunteers used in trials at its chemical weapons research centre.
The long-delayed "historical survey" of Porton Down finds that at least five sets of trials "may not have met the ethical standards required," The Independent on Sunday has learnt. They include one trial in which drops of a poison were placed on the skin of volunteers at a dosage level believed at the time to be fatal.
Another test saw six soldiers severely injured after their genitals were exposed to mustard gas to test prototype protective underwear.
The trial, in which an RAF serviceman, Ronald Maddison, died in agony after being given sarin, is also condemned in a list of cases in which scientists were acting "at the edge of their knowledge".
Ministers commissioned the report into Porton Down six years ago, under pressure from volunteers who were convinced that they had suffered long-term health damage.
Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, a world authority on ethics, was asked to review hundreds of secret tests carried out on servicemen between 1939 and 1989. Although most were properly carried out according to the standards of the day, scientists sometimes placed volunteers in "uncontrollable danger", according to his conclusion to the report.
On one occasion during the Second World War, urgent tests were needed on an unknown substance found in some captured German shells. The poison, which turned out to be a nerve agent, was given to both men and rabbits simultaneously. It was only when one of the rabbits died that the test was hurriedly brought to an end.
Thousands of servicemen were encouraged to volunteer to become guinea pigs in Porton Down, induced by offers of extra pay. The true nature of what they had signed up for was often concealed from them - many believed, for example, that they were taking part in research on the common cold...........
The War on Drugs has become the longest and most costly war in American history, the question has become, how much more can the country endure? Inspired by the death of four family members from "legal drugs" Texas filmmaker Kevin Booth sets out to discover why the Drug War has become such a big failure. Three and a half years in the making the film follows gang members, former DEA agents, CIA officers, narcotics officers, judges, politicians, prisoners and celebrities. Most notably the film befriends Freeway Ricky Ross; the man many accuse for starting the Crack epidemic, who after being arrested discovered that his cocaine source had been working for the CIA.
AMERICAN DRUG WAR shows how money, power and greed have corrupted not just dope fiends but an entire government. More importantly, it shows what can be done about it. This is not some 'pro-drug' stoner film, but a collection of expert testimonials from the ground troops on the front lines of the drug war, the ones who are fighting it and the ones who are living it.