Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Soldiers have a right to life

One of the more disturbing and amoral qualities, exhibited by the 'Rolls Royce' institutions that we were expected to admire, was their belief that soldiers (volunteers or conscripts) were property of the state. Property can be experimented upon, with unfortunate consequences.

Maddison, an RAF engineer from County Durham, had been used as a human guinea pig by MoD scientists experimenting on the lethal nerve gas sarin. Like hundreds of others from the armed forces, Maddison had volunteered for the trials, believing he was going to Porton Down to take part in some 'mild' experiments to find a cure for the common cold. Instead, by dropping sarin onto Maddison's skin, they used him to help determine the dosage of the lethal nerve agents.

His death was very painful.

'I had never seen anyone die before and what that lad went through was absolutely horrific... it was awful,' he said. 'It was like he was being electrocuted, his whole body was convulsing. I have seen somebody suffer an epileptic fit, but you have never seen anything like what happened to that lad... the skin was vibrating and there was all this terrible stuff coming out of his mouth... it looked like frogspawn or tapioca.'

The government, understandably, transformed the episode into an Official Secret but the inquest has now been reopened. This is another good reason for abolishing a standing army - fewer victims for the state.

(My thanks to Simon Abusch for the link)


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