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Human guinea pig to sue the MoD

Ex Royal Navy man to sue the MoD


Ex Royal Navy man claims he was used as a human guinea pig in chemical warfare experiments, after being told he was helping to find a cure for the common cold.

Now former sailor Sam Smith, who is not represented by Irwin Mitchell, is to claim compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for health problems which he believes stem from his exposure to nerve gas at the MoD's chemical research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

The 71-year-old from Strensall, York, says he has suffered from chest problems and watering eyes ever since he volunteered to spend a week in the 1950s at Porton Down.

Mr Smith is one of about 350 servicemen involved in a group action to sue the MoD.

Mr Smith who had been serving in the Royal Navy on the Ark Royal when a request was made for volunteers to come forward to take part in research.

"We were sleeping in hammocks. It was quite overcrowded, and we were eating powdered egg, powdered milk. We thought it was a jolly. We thought we would get away for the week in cushy barracks, and maybe get some decent steak for dinner. We were given a weekend at home as well.

"They told us about it in Daily Orders. They said volunteers were required, they didn't say what for. Then we were led to believe it was to take part in research into the common cold. We didn't know what we were letting ourselves in for. I had never heard of Porton Down."

"We were bribed," he claimed. "We were conned. I think it's disgraceful.

"We were there for a week. They put mustard gas on our skin with an eye dropper. There was a large object like a glass beehive with an air lock and they exposed us to nerve gas. We had to inject ourselves with an antidote through army serge into our legs."

Andrew Buckham, a former member of the armed forces and a lawyer with Irwin Mitchell, which has a dedicated team that specialises in claims on behalf of injured service personnel similar to the one being taken by Mr Smith to sue the MoD, said The case raises concerns about the planning and conduct of such experiments and potentially highlights serious departures from the ethical standards and responsibilities that one would have expected to have been observed at the time

If you or someone you know has been effected by a similar issue, our MoD specialists can help with legal action. Visit our MoD claims section.