Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 12:40 GMT


Fresh calls for Gulf War Syndrome inquiry

Four medical inquiries are taking place into Gulf War Syndrome

The British Legion is renewing calls for a public inquiry into so-called Gulf War Syndrome, despite ongoing government medical studies into the issue.

The Legion wants an inquiry to establish why some 3,000 servicemen became ill after the war in 1991 with Iraq, and why so little was done to help them.

But the Ministry of Defence said it was keen to concentrate on four medical investigations into the problems and did not want to be distracted by having to prepare evidence for an inquiry.

[ image: Veterans complain of chronic fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss and sleep disorders]
Veterans complain of chronic fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss and sleep disorders
Ian Townsend, of the Legion, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme an inquiry was needed to gain the confidence of future servicemen and women.

"The immediate concern is for those who are ill, nearly 3,000, and some 30 have died already," he said.

"We are very concerned that the programmes to look at the cause of the illnesses that stem from their service in the Gulf War have not been pursued vigorously."

He said that in the early stages, politicians and officials had not been willing to accept there was a problem, and progress was still too slow.

"Certainly there were denials that there was a problem, there were denials about the use of organophosphates and certainly then, when there was some acceptance that people were falling ill, the tracing of medical records and the details of those records were just non-existent."

'Inquiry won't help'

But Armed Forces Minister John Spellar said a public inquiry was not the priority.

"Four scientific inquiries are working, and also liaising with the Americans on their work to actually get to the bottom of these illnesses," said Mr Spellar.

"What we have got to do is focus on what the actual causes of the illness are. Going back to what breakdown there was in the initial stages might be of interest, but I'm not sure that it really helps the Gulf veterans."

He suggested an inquiry at some point in the future might be more appropriate.

In a separate move an organisation representing hundreds of veterans suffering from so-called Gulf War Syndrome announced it had cut its ties with the MoD after accusing officials of "leaving old soldiers to die".

The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said the decision followed claims that it was not worth testing for the extent of radiation poisoning in veterans.

Meanwhile a Labour MP campaigning against United Nations sanctions has arrived in Iraq at the end of a two-month road trek on a London bus.

George Galloway was greeted at the border with Jordan by a large gathering of Iraqi deputies and trade union leaders.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

20 Oct 99 | UK
MoD cool on Gulf syndrome report

19 Oct 99 | Americas
Drug may have caused Gulf War illness

28 Apr 99 | UK Politics
Boost for Gulf War Syndrome research

07 Apr 99 | Health
Vaccine link to Gulf War Syndrome

02 Feb 99 | Health
Uranium blamed for Gulf War Syndrome

16 Jan 98 | Gulf War Syndrome
The Gulf War syndrome: fact or fantasy?

Internet Links

Ministry of Defence

Gulf War Veterans

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online