Back to top

British soldier killed in Army WMD test

6 May 1953: Airman Ronald Maddison died less than hour after sarin gas was deliberately dripped onto his arm as part of an experiment at a chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, Wiltshire. Fifty-one years later, a fresh inquest has decided that Maddison was unlawfully killed. His relatives intend seeking compensation from the Ministry of Defence, and more than 500 claims from exservicemen who were involved unwittingly in the WMD tests (and survived) could be forthcoming.

The Guardian has a report today. BBC Online has a series of articles about the inquest, and the background to this amazing story. Best way to navigate is to start at the verdict and follow the related links back.

The Black Vault has some astonishing material regarding more than ninety trial biological warfare "attacks" conducted by the Porton Down facility between 1963 and 1975. (The Black Vault is a quite remarkable reference on government - mainly US - documentation.)

The Porton Down Veterans Support Group has a website (albeit tarnished by some gratuitous DHTML). The UK Medical Research Council has also published its findings of an epidemiological study of twenty thousand veterans who took part in the Porton Down research between the 1940s and the 1980s.

An article at UK Indymedia entitled UK Porton Down WMD Expert dies in Air Crash is worth reading as well.