by Mark Townsend / The Observer –
LONDON (November 23, 2003) — Dozens of soldiers who served in Iraq are to sue the Government, claiming they are suffering from a new form of Gulf War syndrome. Multiple vaccinations given in the run-up to the conflict are being blamed for chronic pains, stomach problems, rashes, swelling, fever, depression and anxiety.
Lawyers and medical experts say the symptoms are identical to those that affected thousands of veterans after the 1991 Gulf conflict.
The Observer has learnt that 13 soldiers have launched legal actions against the Ministry of Defence over what is being called Gulf War II syndrome. A similar number of ‘robust’ cases are to be launched in weeks. In addition, a former MoD employee has obtained the medical records of another 40 Iraq veterans also suffering similar symptoms. Each case could cost the Government £1 million in damages.
Mark McGhee of Manchester-based Linda Myers Solicitors, said servicemen were coming forward all the time. ‘Previously healthy servicemen received inoculations and suffered serious reactions. Now their jobs, livelihoods and their families are being affected,’ he said.
Two Wars, Same Symptoms
The allegations come ahead of the inquest tomorrow into the death of Major Ian Hill, former chairman of the National Gulf Veterans’ and Families’ Association. Hill suffered a severe reaction to vaccinations he was given and was sent home from the Gulf. However, Army doctors were unable to determine what was wrong with him.
The father-of-four subsequently suffered from a range of illnesses including Q fever, an infection that stops the brain producing cells quickly enough to replace those that die. The MoD disputed that his illness was a result of service and he was denied a pension until shortly before his death in March 2001 at the age of 54.
At the two-day inquest in Warrington, lawyers will argue his deployment to the Gulf and subsequent illnesses contributed to his early death. More than 550 veterans have died since the first Gulf war.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said 12 servicemen from the latest conflict had signed up to a health assessment program while 7,000 former Gulf veterans are to be screened.