Inquiry: Gulf War Syndrome does exist
AN independent inquiry into Gulf War illnesses today called on the Ministry of Defence finally to accept that thousands of veterans had suffered ill health as a result of the 1991 conflict.
The inquiry headed by the former law lord Lord Lloyd of Berwick said there was "every reason" to accept the existence of a "Gulf War syndrome".
It said the MoD - which has consistently denied the existence of a distinct syndrome affecting veterans - should now set up a special fund to pay compensation to veterans who suffered as a result of their service in the war to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein.
Gulf war veterans today said the findings of the Lloyd Inquiry were better than even they had hoped for and called on the MoD to accept its findings without delay.
The report said all the scientific studies agreed Gulf veterans were twice as likely to suffer from ill health than if they had been deployed elsewhere.
It accepted the illnesses suffered by the veterans were likely to be due to a combination of causes - including multiple injections of vaccines, the use of organophosphate pesticides to spray tents, low-level exposure to nerve gas and the inhalation of depleted uranium dust.
While it said further research was needed, the inquiry said that was no reason for the MoD not to accept now that the illnesses were a result of service in the Gulf.
"Since the Gulf veterans were twice as likely to become ill as if they had stayed in the UK, the Government ought now, in fairness, and not before time, to accept that the illnesses of those who were deployed to the Gulf were caused by their deployment," the report said.
"May their illnesses be described as a syndrome? Yes. The symptoms are not unique. What is unusual is the extent and intensity of the symptoms. There is therefore every reason to call the illnesses by the label ‘Gulf War syndrome’."
The inquiry was set up at the request of Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester, the parliamentary adviser to the Royal British Legion, after the MoD refused an official inquiry.
It took evidence from former personnel including the commander of the British forces in the Gulf, General Sir Peter de la Billiere, scientific experts and some 35 veterans or their families.
Lord Lloyd condemned the MoD’s failure to co-operate fully with his investigation.
"The MoD thus lost a valuable opportunity to start the process of reconciliation with the ill veterans, an opportunity which would have cost them nothing," he said.
About 6000 veterans, including former personnel from Lothian, are believed to be suffering from ill health.
Their problems have included cancers, motor neurone disease, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, traumatic stress and aching joints.
Tony Flint, of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, said the report conclusions justified what the veterans had been saying about Gulf War syndrome for years.
He said it was now time for the MoD to take heed of Lord Lloyd’s proposals and compensate the veterans for the illnesses they have suffered.
"The report was a lot better than I thought it was going to be," said Mr Flint. "And to have Gulf war syndrome recognised means a hell of a lot to us."
An MoD spokeswoman said: "Once we have had the opportunity to fully assess Lord Lloyd’s findings and recommendations, we will consider our response."
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