- Claims that old and
sick people died after scientists
used them as guinea pigs in germ
warfare experiments are to be investigated
by the police.
- NHS patients may have
been "quietly put to death"
in a research programme carried
out between 1968 and 1970 and the details
kept hidden by the Official
Secrets Act, it is alleged.
- Catholic priest Monsignor John Barry first raised the
scandal 30 years ago because he believed unlawful killings may have taken
place. At the time it was denied by the Government, though it now appears
there was no police criminal investigation.
- And in a separate development
unrelated to Monsignor
Barry's allegations, the Daily Express has
uncovered new evidence about
experiments carried out by Porton Down
between 1964 and 1966.
- Scientists from the top secret base tested a
virus known as a biological warfare agent on dying
leukaemia patients in
an NHS hospital, in the hope that it might
alleviate their condition. A
microbiologist, Dolores McMahon, who was a
junior member of the team and
not involved in the decision-making,
denied there was anything irregular
or unethical about the lengthy
experiment with Kyasanur Forest Monkey Disease
on 33 leukaemia patients
at St.Thomas' Hospital, London.
- She said medical ethics had changed over the three
and added: "Of course, you have to remember in those days
with leukaemia died anyway."
- Detectives from Wiltshire
involved in "Operation
Antler", who are currently
investigating a huge catalogue of "illegal"
nerve gas, mustard gas and LSD on servicemen at Porton
Down, will study
the new evidence concerning Monsignor Barry.
- Wiltshire Police responded when
the Daily Express handed
over three letters containing the allegation
that old people apparently
suffering from dementia and without families
to protect them were used
- Former Liberal Leader David
Steel and Dennis Healey,
the then Labour Defence Secretary, were told
of the Monsignor's claims
in 1970 but both have no recollection of the
case was dismissed at the time by Prime Minister
Harold Wilson who said
it had been investigated, but didn't say exactly
who had investigated
the allegations which should have been handed to the
police as a
- Operation Antler detectives could now approach both
and the Ministry of Defence, requesting access to the
at the heart of the allegations and any information
they might have in
- Labour MP Tam Dalyell said:
"There is a terrible
picture emerging thanks to the Daily Express
of experiments on servicemen
at Porton Down, research by Porton Down
scientists on NHS patients, and
allegations that caused the deaths of
vulnerable elderly people. If just
half of this is true we are talking
about Dr Mengele experiments.
- "I will be raising these matters in the House in
detail and demanding answers. This must be cleared up. The British people
have an absolute right to know just what was done in their name and who
it was done to by Defence Ministry scientists."
- The separate allegations about
old people killed in experiments
goes back 30 years and originated from
"official documents" handed
to Monsignor Barry in Scotland in
1970 by conscience-stricken members of
- In a speech to the
Edinburgh Business Club in January
1970 he said: "I have seen
evidence which I think is genuine, that
there is a certain section of
the Ministry of Defence which uses elderly
people as guinea pigs for
experiments and quietly puts them to death afterwards.
It is carefully
hidden by the Official Secrets Act."
- The documents were handed by
the priest to then Liberal
Party leader Steel. He in turn was reported
to have met the Defence Secretary
at the time, Healey, and handed them
on to him.
- It was a short lived scandal with little publicity and
with a statement from Prime Minister Wilson to the Commons which
said the matter had been fully investigated. Wilson did not reveal
which authority had investigated, or give details of what had been
When the scandal of wide-spread experiments with nerve gas,
and LSD on thousands of servicemen at Porton Down emerged,
Sigmund told the Daily Express about her fears that the
case may have been covered up.
- She gave us two letters sent to
her from the Monsignor
in which he says "I believed and still
believe the reports I received",
but says he will not reveal the
sources of his information to protect them
- A third letter, from Steel's assistant, promises to look
for his copy of the document.
- Monsignor Barry is still alive but unwell after an
three weeks ago and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland
says he is still
too frail to be approached.
- David Steel is now Lord Steel
and Speaker of the Scottish
Parliament. His personal assistant told us:
"He has no recollection
whatsoever of this case and his records do
not go back that far."
- Lord Healey's secretary told us: "He doesn't know
about it. He can't remember it."
- Yesterday, at Ms Sigmund's
request, we handed the originals
of her letters to Operation Antler.
The team is already investigating allegations
concerning the duping of
servicemen into experiments with sarin and tabun
nerve gas, mustard
gas, CS and CR riot gas, LSD and another mind-bending
- Last week we revealed the full extent of the allegations
with complaints from more
than 400 surviving serviceman and some women
covering a period right up
- Meanwhile, Ms Sigmund said: "I had telephone conversations
with Monsignor Barry in the 1970s when he told me documents had been
to him by someone stricken with conscience. He intimated that
might have been suffering from dementia and had no
added: "There was a statement from Harold
Wilson in the House which
virtually dismissed the allegations out of
hand but we live in different
- "We now know that some
20,000 servicemen were duped
ino volunteering for research into the
common cold and then used in the
most horrendous experiments with nerve
gas and all sorts of things.
- "We know that 40 people were injected with the
warfare agent Kyasanur Forest Monkey disease at St Thomas's
1968. That was apparently done to see if it was of
therapeutic value to
leukaemia patients. KFM disease has a 28 per cent
fatality rate and causes
horribly painful encephalitis in
- "Why was Porton Down involved in this search for
leukaemia therapy in an NHS cancer ward? Is it a coincidence that three
years later KFM became a recognised biological warfare agent? Did Porton
Down want to examine the pathology of a biological warfare bug as it acts
on humans?" On the allegations, a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman
said: "These are not things we could respond to quickly because it
would take some time to research records from that period."
twist in history of this base
- AN expert in the treatment of
leukaemia, commenting on
the Porton Down experiments, said yesterday:
"Ethics change over time."
- Professor John Goldman, of
Imperial College School of
Medicine, explained: "We now have lots
of different ways of treating
leukaemia. The one you describe was a
long shot in 1966 and in the year
2000 it would be very
- Evidence that civilians were the subject of experiments
by defence scientists, however, is an even more alarming twist in the
history of the base.
- Dying hospital patients were
deliberately infected with
potentially lethal tropical diseases by the
Porton Down scientists. Medics
examined the impact of two horrific
viruses by injecting terminally-ill
men and women being treated at
leading London hospital St Thomas's.
- The experiments were carried
out at the height of Porton
Down's testing programme for nerve and
biological weapons in the mid-1960s.
- The tests were headed by Gordon
Smith, Porton Down's
director, who has since died. Thirty-three
patients suffering from leukaemia
or carcinoma were injected with
either Kyasanur Forest disease or Langat
virus. Only four showed any
benefit but still died within a matter of months.
- A report of the experiments in
the British Medical Journal
in 1966 claimed that details of what the
tests were all about were explained
to the patients.
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