Gulf war veterans were ‘guinea pigs’ says Sheffield airman

gulfram'Tony Merrygold - pictures from the Gulf War
gulfram'Tony Merrygold - pictures from the Gulf War
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A SHEFFIELD airman who is among former Gulf War veterans to suffer unexplained ill-health has tracked down old paperwork showing tablets given to him and other troops were handed out on a ‘field trial’ and had not been tested before.

Tony Merrygold, from Arbourthorne, who served as a gunner with the RAF Regiment during the conflict 21 years ago, suffers chronic nerve pain and regular loss of use of his hands.

The 42-year-old believes his condition, which doctors have been unable to treat and requires six types of medication to keep under control, is due to the side-effects of drugs he and other troops were given to protect them from biological and chemical weapons.

Mr Merrygold and other veterans from around the country have formed a support group on Facebook, called The Forgotten, to campaign for proper diagnosis.

One member of the group made a request to the Ministry of Defence under the Freedom of Information Act for documents and received a copy of a report from after the conflict ended.

It details analysis of the effects of some of the drugs given to counteract plague and anthrax – describing the situation under which the troops received the tablets as ‘field trial conditions’.

Mr Merrygold, who cannot work due to his condition and is on disability benefits, said: “To say we were given the tablets as a field trial suggests we were guinea pigs for use of medication which had not been tested before. It’s very worrying that we were treated in that way. All I am after is proper treatment for what I am suffering and I am not interested in compensation.”

Mr Merrygold added that publicity about the campaign by him and other veterans has led to the group increasing membership five-fold.

Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn has raised his concerns with Defence Welfare Minister, Andrew Robathan.

He replied: “The Government recognises that some Gulf veterans are ill and that in some cases this may be due, in part, to their time in the Gulf. In such cases, compensation is available in the form of a war pension.”

Mr Robathan added that ‘appropriate treatment’ will be available on the NHS.

n Star Opinion: P6