Sick Gulf veteran who broke silence

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The Independent Online
A seriously ill Gulf veteran said last night that he had been part of a secret unit working for government scientists on chemical and biological experiments.

Sergeant Angus Parker, 37, worked as a technician for the 1st Field Laboratory Unit, reporting to scientists from Porton Down, the Government's secret chemical and biological defence establishment in Wiltshire.

Sgt Parker has broken his silence by writing to the Commons defence select committee, saying that Porton Down is sitting on the evidence which may explain Gulf War illness. Earl Howe, the defence minister, has agreed to meet him next month in London.

Working from laboratories set up inside vehicles, his team analysed airborne particles. Other teams took extensive blood samples from British troops. Findings were fed back to Britain via a data link.

Sgt Parker's unit was part of the biological warfare reconnaissance team which - along with the chemical warfare reconnaissance team and the health survey team, which monitored the effects of vaccinations on the troops - reported to the Porton Down scientists.

Sgt Parker was assigned to the unit as part of the Royal Army Medical Corps, which has suffered a high number of casualties of Gulf War illness.

He said last night: "The MoD would probably not admit to the existence of the unit but I have the photographs to prove it.

"Blood samples were taken in the UK before the vaccinations, then after they were vaccinated and at various times in the Gulf.

"Why has the data collected by the biological and chemical teams not been released? I want them to tell me why I am ill, because they know."

Sgt Parker, a fit man of 31 when he went to war, is now diagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and renal impairment.

He also suffers from a heart problem and has dizzy spells and blackouts. Before the war, he was given 12 vaccinations.

A spokesman for Porton Down said its scientists "may well" have been in the Gulf but could not discuss an operational matter.

A solicitor representing scores of sick Gulf War veterans revealed yesterday how she was gagged by Ministry of Defence officials when she tried to warn John Major, the Prime Minister, about the use of organophosphate (OPs) chemicals in the conflict.

Hilary Meredith, of the Manchester solicitors Donn and Co, wrote to Mr Major in July 1995, after receiving documents which proved that troops had used OPs without protection in the Gulf. She was told to meet MoD officials who demanded that she sign an undertaking not to release the information.

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