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  • Writer's pictureMichael Stewart

Unmasking the Truth: Government's Hidden Biowarfare Tests Revealed

Growing up in England in the 1960s and 70s I can’t say I gave a lot of thought to politicians if I’m honest. On my parent’s small black and white TV, I occasionally saw the various prime ministers from those two iconic decades (always male, usually elderly), leaving No.10 with a jaunty wave to the flashing camera bulbs as they slipped into the back seat of a large black Jaguar, off no doubt to deal with some highly important matter of state, or to attend an international conference on something or other.

It may simply be through the rose-tinted spectacles of youth (before I became old and cynical), but those decades always seemed to me to be a much simpler time when black was black, and white was white. We were always the goodies (of course), and most other people in the world were baddies, or at least people to be suspicious of, especially those from the Caribbean, Asia and particularly Russia. We were free, other people were not. We could be trusted, other people, not so much. Our leaders protected and cared for us, whilst most of the rest of the world lived under tyrannical despotic dictators.

How little I understood back then. I suspect most of the population were just as innocent and naïve as I was. People were taught to respect their elders, their betters, and to respect authority, which included the police, the newspapers, and the government. And most did. There was a general feeling that after the nightmarish wars and depravation of the first half of the 20th Century, our leaders were all looking out for us and working hard to improve life for everyone and keep us safe.

But looking back, whilst I was focussed on my Action Men and Matchbox Cars in the 1960s, and real cars and girls in the 1970s, I can only guess at the seedy and nefarious ‘goings on’ at that time within the hallowed halls of Westminster.

I suspect there are very probably all too many ‘nefarious goings on’ to chose from but let me give you one specific example that has got me worked up lately.

I wonder if you were aware that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) turned large parts of the British countryside into a giant laboratory to conduct secret germ warfare tests on the unsuspecting public between 1940 and 1979?

Or that those tests included the spraying of live bacteria onto members of the public travelling on a regular commuter train on the Salisbury-Exeter line whilst travelling through a railway tunnel to monitor how far and wide the illness would spread across the population.

Or how between 1955 and 1963 RAF aeroplanes flew from north-east England to the tip of Cornwall along the south and west coasts, dropping huge amounts of zinc cadmium sulphide onto the general population, including the city of Salisbury. The chemical drifted miles inland, and as intended, its fluorescence allowed the spread across the population to be easily monitored.

In another trial using zinc cadmium sulphide, a generator was towed along a road near Frome in Somerset where it spewed out the carcinogenic chemical for over an hour (whilst the UK government has since insisted the chemical is safe, cadmium has long been recognised as a cause of lung cancer).

Or how between 1961 and 1975 millions of UK residents along the south coast of England, from Torquay to the New Forest, were exposed to massive aerosols of live bacteria including E.coli and bacillus globigii , which mimics anthrax. These releases came from a military ship, the Icewhale, anchored off the Dorset coast, which sprayed the micro-organisms in a five to 10-mile radius (the Lyme Bay Trials).

Had you heard of the ‘DICE’ trials carried out between 1971 and 1975? These involved US and UK military scientists spraying massive quantities of serratia marcescens bacteria, with an anthrax simulant and phenol into the air over the population of South Dorset.

A similar bacteria was released in ‘The Sabotage Trials’ between 1952 and 1964. These were tests to determine the vulnerability of large government buildings and public transport to a foreign attack. In 1956 bacteria were released on the London Underground at lunchtime along the Northern Line between Colliers Wood and Tooting Broadway. The subsequent results showed that the organism dispersed about 10 miles. Similar tests were conducted in tunnels running under government buildings in Whitehall.

Over the years, successive UK governments have tried to keep these details of the above germ warfare tests secret. While reports of a number of these trials emerged over the years through the Public Records Office, it wasn’t until an official UK government report released in the early 2000s to the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, that a comprehensive official history of Britain’s biological weapons trials on its own people became public. The report covers in some detail how scientists from the government’s secret Porten Down facility based five miles outside Salisbury, in Wiltshire, released potentially dangerous chemicals and micro-organisms over vast swaths of the UK population, without the public being told. The report also confirms the use of anthrax and other deadly germs on tests aboard ships in the Caribbean and off the Scottish coast during the 1950s.

The UK government’s ’Porten Down facility is highly secretive, under constant armed guard and is very hard to get into…and for good reason. The laboratories there are where some of the country's top scientists carry out research into the world's most dangerous pathogens - diseases that can kill us. Ebola, plague, anthrax, and who knows what else are potentially among the life-threatening diseases under study at this secluded government establishment.

The UK government tells us that the tests, carried out by their scientists at Porton Down during the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s were designed to help the MoD assess Britain’s vulnerability if the Russians had released clouds of deadly germs over the country. They also state that in most cases, the trials did not use biological weapons, but similar alternatives which scientists believed would mimic germ warfare and which the MoD claimed were harmless.

The two scientists who the MoD commissioned to review the safety of the tests and compile the official report in the late 1990s as a result of public pressure, reported that there was no risk to public health during the tests, although one suggested the elderly or people suffering from breathing illnesses may have been seriously harmed if they inhaled sufficient quantities of the micro-organisms. One of the scientists, Professor Brian Spratt FRS, who in 1999 was commissioned to conduct a specific independent review of the Lyme Bay Trials (renamed in 1997 by Porton Down as the ‘Dorset Defence Trials’) discovered that the MoD had in fact kept the existence of both the 1968 military demonstration experiments, and the 19 75 joint UK/USA germ warfare detection experiments (the DICE Trials) hidden from his investigation.

So, as usual the official government investigation into the biological weapon trials on the British public is the usual ‘nothing to see here’ whitewash, whilst the many families in areas which bore the brunt of the secret tests remain convinced the experiments led to their children suffering serious birth defects over subsequent years (including death, physical handicaps and learning difficulties).

One such example is David Orman, an army officer from Bournemouth. His wife, Janette, was born in East Lulworth in Dorset, close to where many of the trials took place. She had a miscarriage, then gave birth to a son with cerebral palsy. Janette’s three sisters, also born in the village while the tests were carried out, likewise gave birth to children with unexplained problems, as have a number of their neighbours. The local health authority has denied there is a cluster of birth defects, but Orman believes otherwise. He said: ‘I am convinced something terrible has happened. The village was a close-knit community and to have so many birth defects over such a short space of time has to be more than coincidence.’

If you weren’t aware of these secret biological tests, I wonder how you feel about our government conducting such tests on us without our knowledge, and then successive government’s working hard to cover it up over many decades? You might say well, that was over 50 years ago now, our present government wouldn’t do such a thing.

Wouldn’t they…can you be so sure?

Indeed, when the report came out in the early 2000s, a spokesperson from Porten Down when asked whether such tests are still being carried out, replied, ‘It is not our policy to discuss ongoing research,’ and admitted that UK Government Ministers had refused to rule out conducting larger scale public area experiments in the future.

Do you trust your government?




My thanks to the original Guardian article by Antony Barnett coving the release of the government report into the Porten Down tests on the British Public. Link below.

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