British defense officials accused of stealing Gulf War
By ANTONY BARNETT
London Observer Service
August 27, 2000
LONDON - The British Ministry of Defense has been accused of being behind a program to remove body parts from Gulf War veterans illegally and send them for secret research experiments.
Lawyer Mark McGhee has launched legal action for the mother of one soldier, 24-year-old Andrew Mullineux, amid allegations that his brain was removed after he died mysteriously in 1993. It is alleged that the brain and other organs were sent to Porton Down, a military research center in Wiltshire, England.
Margaret Mullineux only found out the fate of her son's organs last February in a letter from a consultant pathologist at the Royal Military Hospital in Gosport. It informed her that her son's brain was removed six years earlier after a post-mortem at Southampton General Hospital.
The letter says parts of her son's brain were sent "to Porton Down because of the potential risk of infection." Tissue samples of the skin, liver, kidney and spleen were also sent.
"I was shattered," Mrs. Mullineux said. "I believed I had buried my son whole and I now have found out his brain was removed without my permission and parts of his body are now in jars at Porton Down. I remember at the time of his funeral, the undertaker advising me to keep the coffin lid closed. At the time I didn't know why, but I do now."
She added: "When he died Andrew was a civilian and died at a civilian hospital. I want to know why a doctor at a military hospital was telling me six years later that his brain was sent to Porton Down."
McGhee, who also represents more than 120 veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome, says he has received inquiries from several families who believe the Ministry of Defense has removed organs and tissues from their relatives without their knowledge.
"The (British) Human Tissues Act requires permission from next of kin before body parts are removed, and it appears in the case of Andrew this hasn't happened," McGhee said. "I believe there are other similar cases and we need to know what went on and why these body tissues were removed and retained."
The veterans believe their illness stems from injections they were given to help protect them against chemical gas attacks, or from radiation poisoning from depleted uranium shells used in the war.
Larry Cammock, chairman of the British Gulf Veterans' Association, said: "We know of a number of cases where body parts have been removed from veterans under mysterious circumstances. What are the MoD trying to hide?"
"There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion we are taking body parts of Gulf War veterans and sending them to Porton Down or anywhere else," a defense ministry spokesman said.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. For more Observer news go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/ .)
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