30 June 2008
In January 2008, a £3 million settlement was agreed with the Ministry of Defence on behalf of 359 Porton Down veterans including a public apology. Mr Dennis Thomas, a veteran represented by Leigh Day & Co solicitors was relieved that what had happened at Porton Down had finally been recognised. He also welcomed the news that a new deadline of 30th June 2008
would allow other veterans like himself to put forward their case.
Dennis Thomas was 19 years old when he saw a notice in his routine station orders, asking for volunteers to attend Porton Down for physiological experiments. Mr Thomas recalls that he was not told about the true nature of the experiments in which he was to participate.
Records from Porton Down show that Mr Thomas was actually exposed to Sarin GB vapour. Following the exposure he experienced a tight chest, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, a headache and miosis. The skin of his left arm also felt numb, a side effect which lasted for many years.
Mr Thomas stayed at Porton Down for one week, following which he was given a pass and discharged home on the train. He recalls that the journey back home from Salisbury to North Wales was a nightmare. “The trains were crowded and I could barely breathe. On arriving home, my mother was horrified at my condition and immediately tried to call the doctor. I though felt compelled to stop her as I had signed the Official Secrets Act and could not speak to the doctor about what had happened to me.”
In total Mr Thomas was paid £1 for attending Porton Down.
Mr Thomas recalls the moment he received a letter from Porton Down, detailing what he had been exposed to “It was a relief in a way, at least someone was finally recognising what had happened. Prior to this we had received nothing.”
Mr Thomas’ claim, along with 358 others, was settled in January 2008 by law firm Leigh Day & Co. Mr Thomas comments “I was really pleased about the compensation but, for me, the apology from the Ministry of Defence was the most important aspect. Finally they had acknowledged the wrong that had happened to us. I would strongly encourage others who attended Porton Down to come forward with their claims prior to the deadline issued by the Ministry of Defence.”
Approximately 260 veterans have come forward since the previous settlement in January 2008. Other veterans who believe they participated in experiments at Porton Down are urged to come forward before the 30 June 2008
deadline. Further information and a fact sheet can be obtained by contacting Gene Matthews
at Leigh Day & Co solicitors on 020 7650 1236.
Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.