24/02/2006

Former servicemen receive payouts for LSD tests

Three ex-servicemen have received payouts from M16 after they were given LSD without their consent during tests in the 1950s.

The men had volunteered to take part in tests at the Porton Down research base, believing that the tests were an attempt to find a cure for the common cold.

Instead, the men were given the powerful hallucinogen during the tests and suffered terrifying hallucinations.

It is understood that the tests, conducted at the height of the Cold War, were carried out by the Secret Intelligence Service amid fears that the Soviet Union was developing a "truth drug" to be used against its enemies.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the compensation payments had been made. The actual sum has not been made public, but the amount is thought to be under £10,000 each for each of the three men, according to reports.

Thousands of servicemen and women have volunteered for tests of defences against chemical and biological attacks at the Porton Down centre over the years.

In 2004, an inquest ruled that a serviceman who died at Porton Down following tests of the nerve gas sarin had been unlawfully killed.

Ronald Maddison collapsed and died shortly after the liquid nerve gas was dropped onto his arms during experiments at the facility in 1953.

Last October, the government was also found guilty of breaching the human rights of ex-soldier Thomas Roche, who participated in tests of mustard gas and nerve agents in the early 1960s. Mr Roche was discharged from the army in 1968 and stopped work twenty years later, due to ill health. He blamed the experiments for causing health problems, such as hypertension, bronchitis and asthma.

(KMcA/GB)




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