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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 16:40 GMT
Jabs linked to Gulf War Syndrome
Soldiers in the Gulf
The existence of Gulf War syndrome is disputed
A Ministry of Defence doctor has said a cocktail of vaccines may be to blame for a range of debilitating illnesses known as Gulf War syndrome.

The MoD has strongly denied jabs given to soldiers about to serve in the 1990 conflict compromised their health.

But Lieutenant Colonel Graham Howe, clinical director of psychiatry with the British Forces Health Service in Germany, has questioned this view.

Independent research has failed to find conclusive proof of a link.

Col Howe was asked by the War Pensions Agency to examine the case of former Lance-Corporal Alex Izett, from Cumbernauld in Lanarkshire, who suffered from osteoporosis, which in turn led to depression.

Col Howe wrote in his report that the former Royal Engineer had inoculations prior to the conflict, which were not recorded on his medical documents because they had officially been classified as "secret".

Alex Izett
Alex Izett suffered depression
The Times newspaper report that he concluded: "It seems most likely certain that Mr Izett did in fact receive classified `secret' injections prior to his expected deployment and that in turn these have most probably led to the development of autoimmune-induced osteoporosis."

No other cause

Mr Izett never went to Iraq and was not exposed to any other form of toxins - leaving no other possible cause for his illness.

The report also highlighted a "high incidence" of osteoporosis in Gulf war veterans and that the "common denominator that links him to GW vets are the vaccinations he received prior to deployment".

Mr Izett, 33, who now lives in Bersenbruck, near Bremen in Germany, was inoculated like other troops against anthrax, botulism and other biological agents.

He said he went public with the confidential report, dated September 22, 2001, so that other soldiers vaccinated with the same "secret" injections could claim compensation for the physical and mental illness they may have suffered as a result.

Last year a war pensions appeals tribunal awarded Mr Izett a 50% disability pension, based on the findings of Col Howe's report.

The existence of Gulf War Syndrome and its possible causes has been hotly debated.

It has been linked variously to the inoculations the veterans received, pesticides they handled, smoke from oil-burning fires, stress and organophosphates - chemicals that have been shown to affect the human nervous system.

US and British veterans of the conflict have complained of symptoms such as respiratory and digestive problems, nerve damage, fatigue, pain, numbness and memory and psychological problems.

MoD response

In a statement, the MoD said it had accepted some veterans of the 1990 conflict had become ill, and that many believe their ill health was unusual and related to their service in the Gulf.

It said it had funded an 8.5 million research programme into the claims.

"The overwhelming consensus of the scientific and medical community is that there are too many different symptoms reported for this ill health to be characterised as a 'syndrome'.

"In their report published on 2nd May 2003, the independent Medical research Council came to the same conclusion.

"Mr Izett receives a war pension based on his physical disabilities and no on whether or not 'Gulf War Syndrome' exists or not.

"The MoD can only appeal on a point of law not on the decision itself. Not doing so should not, therefore, be taken as a tacit concession that 'Gulf War Syndrome' exists."

"Gulf veterans illnesses remain a high priority and the government will continue to address Gulf Veteran's concerns openly and honestly."


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