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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 03:30 GMT 04:30 UK
Bishops call for Gulf War payouts
The Rt Reverend Graham James
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, organised the letter
Six bishops are calling on the government to compensate thousands of servicemen and women who became seriously ill after the 1991 Gulf War.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Reverend Graham James, organised a letter to Tony Blair urging him officially to recognise the plight of victims.

Last year a former law lord called on the government to recognise the existence of a "Gulf War syndrome".

The churchmen say failure to recognise it adds to sufferers' distress.

Former law lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, called on the government in an independent report to accept the existence of the syndrome - something it has consistently refused to do.

Signatories to the letter
Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Kenneth Stevenson
The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev William Ind
the Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Michael Evans
Chair of the East Anglia Methodist District, the Rev Graham Thompson

In their letter, the churchmen said: "It seems to us that Lord Lloyd's inquiry has demonstrated that the illnesses which have resulted from the Gulf War are not some figment of anyone's imagination but have a terrifying reality - one that should be recognised by the Government so that adequate compensation can be given to the victims and families affected."

They added: "The failure to recognise their condition officially adds to their distress. We ask Her Majesty's Government to take urgent action to bring this unhappy state of affairs to a satisfactory conclusion."

Their intervention was welcomed by the Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester - the parliamentary adviser to the Royal British Legion and a long-time campaigner on behalf of the Gulf veterans.

He said: "This new and important initiative merits an urgent and positive response.

"Meanwhile it will hearten the over 6,000 British veterans of the Gulf War who are now in broken health and the widows of those afflicted who have since died," he said.


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