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Poisoned by their own people

Scientists from Porton Down carried out a top-secret experiment 40 years ago. Alarmingly, it was done on a journey through Somerset and into the heart of Bristol.

Until recently details of their experiment remained secret, but Inside Out has discovered the documents which explain what took place.

Porton Down was set up in 1916 at the height of the First World War. It was a top secret chemical weapons centre sited on a 7,000 acre site near Sailsbury.

During World War II, Porton Down began researching biological weapons, but during the Cold War, chemical weapons became the top priority.

Hundreds of ‘volunteers’ were injured or even killed in nerve gas experiments at the Porton Down chemical warfare unit. Now at last they may receive justice.

Wiltshire Police investigation into the use of thousands of human “guinea pigs” at the Porton Down chemical warfare establishment is the largest investigation it has ever conducted.

“Operation Antler” now involves a full-time team of 20 detectives and staff. Jack Straw, the Home Secretary.

The roots of this inquiry can be traced to 6 May 1953, when Leading Airman Ronald Maddison reported to officials at Porton Down, then known as the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, for what he believed to be non-military duties. Twenty drops (200mgs) of sarin GB nerve gas were dripped onto his uniformed arms as part of an experiment to see how much protection fatigues gave against chemicals. The twenty-year-old died as a direct result.


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