LSD troop tests `had secret agenda'

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The Independent Online
CHRISTOPHER BELLAMY

Defence Correspondent

Parliament was seriously misled over the purpose and extent of secret experiments on British troops with the drug LSD in the 1950s and 1960s, claims a Channel 4 documentary to be shown tonight .

The experiments took place at the top-secret chemical and biological warfare establishment at Porton Down. The programme includes newly released film, formerly secret, of servicemen given LSD without their knowledge. LSD was also used on about 50,000 civilian psychiatric patients during this period until it was classified as a dangerous, class A drug in 1966.

On 21 November 1994, in reply to a question from Dr David Clark, the Labour defence spokesman, Parliament was told of experiments on 72 service volunteers between 1962 and 1968. These experiments were to evaluate the effect of LSD as a psycho-chemical in order to develop countermeasures.

The documentary claims none of the Government answers is true. An earlier series of experiments with LSD - lysergic acid diethylamide - began in 1954. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency now accepts that about 144 servicemen were involved in all the tests. The servicemen volunteered but had no idea what the experiments involved.

The claim that the experiments were defensive in nature is also challenged by a secretdocument from 1959 which says the aim was to find a psycho- chemical which could be "recommended as a military agent". The 1950s tests appear to have been carried out in parallel with tests by the CIA and the US army.

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