MoD loses appeal over Gulf War syndrome

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War veterans fighting to establish that they suffer from Gulf War syndrome won a landmark victory at the High Court yesterday.

The judge dismissed an appeal by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) seeking to overturn a pensions tribunal decision that a medical condition suffered by Shaun Rusling, a former Parachute Regiment sergeant, could be attributable to Gulf War syndrome. The tribunal ruling was seen as a breakthrough for former servicemen claiming to have a common illness.

The Government's legal defeat means that thousands of veterans are likely to claim military pensions. It also opens the way for possible future claims for damages against the MoD. Mr Justice Newman declared that there was no legal basis in the MoD claim against the pensions tribunal decision. But he stressed that his ruling was not an automatic endorsement that Gulf War syndrome existed.

Mr Rusling, aged 44, the chairman of the Gulf War Veterans and Families Association, said: "I am elated. This is a total vindication of all war veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome."

His solicitors, Linder Myers, said: "Today's decision will not just affect Shaun and those veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War conflict but potentially the whole of the UK veteran population."