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Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Porton Down death inquiry widened
Chemical test
Fluids were dropped onto the men's skin
A police investigation into the death of a former serviceman who took part in chemical warfare trials at Porton Down, Wiltshire, is examining at least 45 other deaths.

Last August police launched a criminal inquiry into the death of Ronald Maddison, who died in May 1953 after the deadly nerve agent Sarin B was dripped onto his arm.

Ronald Maddison
Ronald Maddison died after allegedly testing Sarin nerve gas in 1953
Relatives of other dead men have contacted detectives following the publicity surrounding the Maddison case.

Wiltshire police sources said their inquiry may eventually take in 70 cases.

In all, 300 ex-servicemen claim to have disabilities ranging from breathing difficulties to kidney complaints as a result of the tests.

The investigation is sensitive because it could lead to the prosecution of former Ministry of Defence staff and compensation claims by victims' families.

Hefty bill

Wiltshire police have asked the Home Office for help in meeting the bill for the inquiry, which is believed to stand at 40,000 a month.

On Tuesday five new officers seconded from the army, navy and air force's own police services joined the team.

As part of the inquiry, detectives have travelled to the United States, where the Pentagon agreed to pay compensation to members of its armed forces whose health was affected by similar experiments carried out there.

The nerve gas Sarin was used in the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo Supreme Truth sect in which 12 people died and 4,000 were left sick.

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