MoD to be sued over Porton Down tests

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Indy Politics

Defence ministers face new legal challenges for injuring hundreds of soldiers in secret chemical weapons tests, on the eve of a new inquest into the death of one "human guinea pig" more than 50 years ago.

Defence ministers face new legal challenges for injuring hundreds of soldiers in secret chemical weapons tests, on the eve of a new inquest into the death of one "human guinea pig" more than 50 years ago.

An inquest will be opened on Wednesday into the death of Ronald Maddison, a 20-year-old national serviceman. He died 51 years ago after scientists at Porton Down chemical weapons laboratory in Wiltshire dropped the nerve gas sarin on to his sleeve. The eight-week-long inquiry is expected to lead to a series of fresh legal cases and compensation claims.

Lawyers for hundreds of other veterans who were exposed to similar chemical and nerve agents at the laboratory are poised to take the Ministry of Defence to court, claiming compensation and damages for their injuries after allegedly being duped into volunteering for the tests.

The case against the Government has been significantly boosted after the Canadian government agreed to pay up to C$50m (£20m) to about 2,000 soldiers who were dosed with weapons such as mustard gas, chlorine and nerve agents in the same series of secret tests - initially run by Porton Down scientists, which is a crucial factor for British veterans. Each Canadian veteran will get a one-off payment of C$24,000 for their "sacrifice and service".

Last year, the Crown Prosecution Service said it had insufficient evidence to charge anyone in the 66 cases submitted. "We will need to to see if there is any fresh evidence," a spokesman said.

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