Veterans take case to Supreme Court

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LOCAL ex-service veterans used as ‘human guinea pigs’ for nerve gas tests in the 1950s will see their case taken to the Supreme Court in London.

It is the latest step in their long fight to get recognition of the illnesses and difficulties they now suffer which they believe is as a result of the tests.

One of them, Terry Alderson from Danby, volunteered in 1949 when he was 19 and a National Service soldier to take part in experiments he was told were aimed at finding a cure for the common cold.

The British and American Governments at the time believed the then Soviet Union had developed an efficient nerve gas and they were desperate to find one as good and carried out experiments at Porton Down, a highly secret Ministry of Defence establishment in Wiltshire.

Volunteers were recruited from the armed services but weren’t told the true nature of the experiments.

One airman died within an hour of being given the nerve gas sarin, used by the Nazis in their death camps.

Mr Anderson was not given sarin but liquid mustard gas was dropped onto the skin of his upper arm. For the rest of his service he suffered attacks of vomiting, sweating and headaches and at times he collapsed in the street.

It wasn’t until after Ronald Maddison’s inquest other servicemen realised they were suffering the same symptoms and they formed the Porton Down Veterans Support Group.

They were given £8,330 compensation each but Terry maintains their fight is about getting the Ministry of Defence to admit their health problems, including the cancer, are a result of the experiments.

Mr Anderson said: “If the Government goes on dragging its feet long enough we’ll all be dead and the problem will be solved.

“It’s true we volunteered for the tests but if we’d known what they would lead to we would never have done it.”

Denis Shaw from Grosmont worked on Christmas Island in the 1950s clearing up after earlier nuclear tests.

He wore no protective clothing and has since suffered from skin cancer and deafness and claims children he had with his former wife before Christmas Island had no serious health problems but a daughter born since then had an aorta bypass and spinal problems and a grandson was born with two sets of lower teeth.

The Ministry of Defence has always maintained that no causal link can be proved.