The second Porton Down Public Area Experiments programme in the ITV West series,Top Secrets Revealed, is to be broadcast on Thursday 25 November at
Thursday November 25
Tonight’s TOP SECRETS REVEALED tells exclusively of secret biological trials in the late 1960’s and mid 70’s, some of which remain classified today.
And we reveal more recent tests simulating deadly anthrax on our postal system and ask, is the UK witnessing a return to cold war paranoia.
In 1968, scientists from the Biological and Chemical Research Establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire, sprayed live bacteria from a ship off the
South Coast. To this day, the people living in the area are unaware these trials even took place – that’s about to change.
Former Top Secret documents obtained by ITV West less than a month ago from the Public Records Office show a series of experiments took place during
1968 to test the demonstration of new biological warfare detection system.
As well as the public being kept in the dark about these secret trials – so too was the man charged with conducting an independent review in 1998,
into the effects on the public from other Porton tests carried out during the Cold War.
Microbiologist, Professor Brian Spratt, based at Imperial College in London was shown these documents for the first time, by programme Producer,
Michelle Maynard. He says, “I’m surprised to hear that and I did try and get hold of all the documents and I think if the MOD is going to go to all
the trouble of having an independent report, they should show me all the documents.”
Professor Spratt’s report covered a series of trials known as the Dorset Defence Trials, aimed at mimicking germ warfare attacks. These took place at
a time of great fear of a biological attack by the Russian’s, either by air or by sea. His findings were published in 1999 and concluded that “the
experimental releases of bacteria may have put a small number of individuals at risk of infection” and that “any infections would probably have been
restricted to individuals who were particularly susceptible to disease.” Following the Dorset Defence Trials, more trials began from the air using a
converted Canberra bomber – this time the affected area was north Dorset where e-coli was mixed with bacteria and sprayed from the plane.
While Professor Spratt was told about another set of trials, known as the Collaborative US/UK biological detection trials in 1971 – he claims not to
have been told of similar trials four years later, known as the DICE trials, where live bacteria was sprayed over land at the South Coast. Under the
30- year rule, details of these trials with the Americans remain secret, but we have seen written evidence from Porton Down that they did take place.
Although the threat from a Russian attack is over - fear of terrorist attacks remain on the minds of everyone, including the security services. Just
three years ago, mock anthrax attacks took place at three of the countries largest postal sorting offices. We talk to Union representing postal
workers - It’s worried the system couldn’t cope in the face of a biological terrorist attack.