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Leigh Day concludes Porton Down litigation

All former servicemen clients represented by Leigh Day have now received compensation

Group of Porton Down clients

6 January 2011

 Gene Matthews, solicitor and partner in the international and group claims department at Leigh Day & Co, has been involved with the Porton Down cases for a number of years.  The firm has now successfully concluded all the cases where it has acted for almost 400 British former servicemen, with the last payment being received in December 2010.

The servicemen received compensation for experiments that were carried out on them by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at the Chemical Defence establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire from the 1940s-1980s.

The veterans alleged that they were not informed about the nature of the chemical agents to which they were subjected before participating in the experiments, nor the risks associated with them.   Many believed they were assisting in the quest to find a cure for the common cold.  It has only been over the last decade that the veterans have learned of the chemical agents to which they have been exposed. The Official Secrets Act prevented veterans from disclosing the adverse effects of exposure. Many veterans only recently became aware of the chemicals to which they had actually been subjected to, these included nerve agents, such as Sarin gas, and hallucinogens, such as LSD.

On 31 January 2008, in conjunction with Kent firm Thomson Snell & Passmore, Leigh Day & Co obtained a settlement of £3 million which was split between 359 veterans in the first tranche of this litigation. In addition, an apology was issued to all servicemen involved in these experiments by the Secretary of State for Defence in the House of Commons.   The final payments made in December 2010 means that approximately 300 additional veterans received compensation in the second tranche of this litigation.

Gene Matthews said on the conclusion of the case:

"The unethical testing conducted by the Ministry of Defence on unsuspecting servicemen remains a sorry chapter in our nation’s history.  In concluding this litigation, we are delighted that we were able to assist so many injured servicemen to obtain both compensation and an apology from the British Government.  We hope that lessons have been learnt by the Ministry of Defence and that our clients are now able to move on with their lives".

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.


Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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