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Sarin Death: Ronald Maddison New Inquest Starts

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posted on May, 4 2004 @ 11:52 AM
For those of you around the world who have not heard of this case, Ronald Maddison was a 20 year old National Serviceman serving in the RAF in 1953.
He was involved in a Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment, Porton Down Sarin exposure test.

The test proved fatal.

An inquest was held in secret, and decided his cause of death was misadventure.
After a long campaign by his family and former colleagues and fellow experimentees, the UK Government agreed to a new inquest. This inquest is being held for 8 weeks and starts Wednesday May 5 2004.

This inquest is unique occasion for all experimentees around the world, as Porton Down scientists engaged in human experimentation are being forced to explain their motives and ethics in public.

It should be very interesting.
Read more here§ion=news

Investigative journalist Rob Evans has written a book about the infamous Porton "Volunteer" nerve gas experiments.
It is called "Gassed" ISBN 1 84232 071 8

If you wish to see how badly a Government has treated it's Armed Service Personnel read this book.
It shows why old soldiers have always advised new recruits, "never volunteer".

zero lift

posted on May, 6 2004 @ 01:21 PM
This is a photograph of a different experiment, but from a similar CDEE Porton Down programme.

In this case, the RAF Serviceman is taking part in an experiment which involves him inhaling Sarin gas.

Many of these "volunteers thought they were taking part in experiments which would find a cure for the common cold.
This was not a far-fetched idea. Across the city of Salisbury, 5 miles from the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment, Porton Down, was the Medical Research Council Common Cold Unit. The Unit was based in "Harvard" hospital, an ex military hospital given to the UK by the US during WW2.
It seems that Porton could not get enough servicemen to volunteer to be guinea-pigs, so NCOs were encouraged to foster the belief in their soldiers and aircrew that Porton was doing the Common Cold experiments. Once they were there it was too late to complain!

Any bets that this still goes on in the US/UK/CAN military?

zero lift

posted on Jul, 19 2004 @ 03:26 PM
It has been reported in the past that the coffin of Ronald Maddison was sealed shut by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Recent evidence given at his reopened inquest has probably revealed why the MOD were so reluctant for any outside examination of his body, prior to burial.

Evidence was given that the CDEE Porton Down scientists had harvested a very large amount of his tissue without receiving permission to do so from his relatives. According to a witness to the autopsy the harvest was bigger than any he had ever witness in his long career.

Scientists 'kept body parts of 1953 nerve gas victim'
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 18/07/2004)

Government scientists secretly removed body parts from a national serviceman who died after taking part in nerve gas experiments, a new inquest has been told.

Up to 200 separate samples were taken from 20-year-old Ronald Maddison's brain, spinal cord, heart and skin - without his family's permission - days after he died at Porton Down, Wiltshire, the government top-secret chemical warfare research base, in 1953.

The body parts have since been used in a number of experiments by scientists researching the effects of toxic chemical agents on human tissue.

Details of the removal of organs from the airman's body has emerged during a new inquest into his death which opened in May.

The original inquest, held in secret in 1953, found that Leading Aircraftman Maddison's death was accidental, but the new inquest will examine fresh evidence and decide whether the original verdict still stands.

Mr Maddison, from Consett, Co Durham, was among hundreds of national servicemen who volunteered in the 1950s and 60s to take part in tests at Porton Down in the belief that they were helping scientists find a cure for the common cold.

The airman died less than an hour after 200mg of the highly toxic Sarin nerve agent was placed on layers of cloth on the inside of his arm.

Robert Hogg, the witness who made the body parts disclosure at the inquest in Trowbridge, revealed that parts of Mr Maddison's skin, brain, spinal cord, heart, stomach, lung, duodenum and muscle were removed without the knowledge of his family.

Mr Hogg, who was employed as a laboratory assistant during his national service, also revealed that the body parts could still be in existence.

Mr Hogg, now a retired senior chief scientific officer, told the inquest that in May 1953 he was summoned by his line manager and told that one of the volunteers had died.

He was given orders to drive to Salisbury Infirmary, where the post mortem examination was to take place and to wait in a car.

After 90 minutes, his colleagues appeared with "umpteen" cardboard boxes, containing more body part samples "than I have ever seen at any post mortem in my life". Asked how many, Mr Hogg said: "I would say between 100 and 200."

He said the bottles contained parts of almost every organ and gland in the body, "especially heart, peripheral muscle and brain . . . spinal cord and skin, quite a lot of skin."

Mr Hogg disclosed that his line manager had told him that Mr Maddison had died of a heart attack. He said: "I was told that he had a heart condition and should never have been on the course. That was the excuse given to me."

He added: "These samples could still exist today. In Edinburgh [where Mr Hogg worked during his career] we had sections going back to the 1950s, even before."

Mr Hogg suggested that the samples could be in storerooms at the Royal Army Medical College in Millbank, Westminster. The inquest also heard evidence from Alfred Thornhill, an ambulance driver at Porton Down in 1953 who saw Mr Maddison moments after he began suffering from nerve agent poisoning.

Mr Thornhill said that he was ordered to drive his ambulance to the gas chamber because there had been an accident. When he arrived, he was shocked to see two men holding a third man down on the floor.

"I said to this chap that stood up, 'What is happening here?' He had a very, very peculiar look on his face, as though he had seen somebody who had their head cut off, you know, frightened . . . and he said, 'He took his mask off'."

Mr Thornhill told the jury that one of the scientists had Mr Maddison's head and appeared to be pushing his face into the ground.

Visibly distressed by memories of the event, he said: "I have never seen anything like that, never ever. This lad, his whole body was rippling." Mr Thornhill said that on the way back to the medical centre four people were needed to hold down Mr Maddison because the body convulsions had become so violent.

He told the jury that he was made to sign the Official Secrets Act and warned that he risked jail if he spoke of what he saw. The inquest continues.

zero lift

posted on Aug, 23 2004 @ 08:30 AM
Inquest resumes into 1953 death at Porton Down

Rob Evans and Sandra Laville
Monday August 23, 2004
The Guardian

In an old-fashioned Victorian courtroom, an inquest into one of the most enduring cover-ups of the cold war is to resume today.
The inquest, sitting after a month's break, is examining how a 20-year-old airman died in 1953 after a secret experiment in which military scientists dripped liquid nerve gas on to his arm.

It is the first full public airing of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ronald Maddison at the Porton Down chemical warfare establishment in Wiltshire.

The original inquest, in 1953, was held behind closed doors on government orders, and details of the death remained hushed up for decades. After pressure from Maddison's family and supporters, the lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, ordered a new hearing which opened in May.

It is a test case for hundreds of servicemen who say they were duped into volunteering for experiments at Porton Down, believing they were attempts to find a cure for the common cold. Many claim their health was damaged.

The inquest at Trowbridge, Wiltshire, has heard from more than 30 witnesses.

Robert Lynch, now 80, was a a lab technician, but was not involved in the human testing. "Most of us had the thought that we were going into very dangerous areas," he told the inquest, adding: "We knew that we were pushing it. "There were very large amounts of [sarin nerve gas] being used ... Because they were human experiments, any of us who knew about them could not help feeling nervous."

The jury has heard extracts from the memoirs of a Porton Down scientist, the late Mark Ainsworth, who wrote that he and a colleague had been "a bit unhappy" about the experiments in which sarin was dropped on to the subjects' arms.

Ainsworth wrote that the head of the department responsible for the human experiments, Dr Harry Cullumbine, "continued, but we persuaded him to go carefully".

Under questioning, Mr Lynch agreed Cullumbine had been a "forceful personality".

The jury has also heard that another Porton Down scientist, John Rutland, believed that the levels of sarin used in Maddison's test were "well above the normal limits".

The inquest is scrutinising whether the scientists took enough care when they exposed the airman to nerve gas on May 6 1953. Ten days earlier, another human guinea pig, John Kelly, nearly died after scientists dropped nerve gas on to his arm. A third serviceman, Oliver Slater, also suffered a bad reaction days before that.

Professor Robert Forrest, an expert toxicologist, said the experiments should have immediately been stopped.

Two of the six servicemen who were in the gas chamber with Maddison have given evidence.

One, Mike Cox, said they had been playing noughts and crosses to pass the time when Maddison suddenly fell forward on to the table.

He said two Porton technicians had "half-carried" him out. Within half an hour he died, despite frantic attempts to revive him.

At least 20,000 servicemen have taken part in tests at Porton Down since the first world war. More than 3,000 were exposed to nerve gas.

zero lift

posted on Aug, 23 2004 @ 10:20 AM
The Inquest has just heard that a report from ethics expert Sir Ian Kennedy has just been published. This report concluded that although the Porton scientists knew that the amount of skin fat possessed by sarin experimentees was an important factor in risk assessment of the health effects of the experiments, they ignored the dangers and still proceeded with the tests.
Tests Exposed Man to 'Uncontrollable Danger'

By John Bingham, PA News

An RAF man who died in secret nerve gas tests more that 50 years ago had been exposed to “uncontrollable danger”, according to an unpublished report, an inquest heard today.

The hearing into the death of airman Ronald Maddison in 1950s sarin experiments at Porton Down, Wiltshire was told that a leading ethics expert had raised serious questions over the safety of the trials.

Reopening the long-running inquest after a summer break, the coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon David Masters told the jury that the final chapter of a key report on the Porton Down tests had been released by the Government.

He said that ethics expert Professor Sir Ian Kennedy had concluded that scientists at the time had been aware of the importance of the level of fat in volunteers’ skin.

Maddison, 20, died after being exposed to sarin on his skin during tests in 1953.

The original inquest shortly after his death had been held behind closed doors for reasons of “national security” but was finally reopened in May of this year after campaigning by the Maddison family.

The hearing today was told that Maddison’s skin had a lower than average level of surface fat, which could have affected the way in which the sarin was distributed.

But there was no procedure available at the time for measuring how much fat the volunteers had in their skin, according to Professor Kennedy.

And the coroner told the jury today that Professor Kennedy had concluded that it had not been “safe” to proceed with the tests because of that fact.

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