HC Deb 18 May 2000 vol 350 c201W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the(a) role of the 1 Field Laboratory Unit that operated a biological warfare agent detection facility during the 1990–91 Gulf conflict and (b) work of that unit in detecting biological warfare agents. [123219]

Mr. Spellar

The 1997 "Gulf Veterans Illnesses: A New Beginning" policy statement set out a number of commitments to help address the health concerns of Gulf Veterans. One of these commitments was to review specific incidents of suggested biological warfare exposures and the activities of 1 Field Laboratory Unit. As part of this commitment I am today publishing a paper entitled, "A Review of the Activities of the 1 Field Laboratory Unit and Suggested Biological Warfare Agency Detections During Operation Granby".

As a result of our review of the available information we assess that UK troops were not subject to attack by or exposed to biological warfare agents during the Gulf conflict. There were alarms on some detectors, many of which were recognised to be false by the system operators at the time. On one occasion, a biological substance was detected and samples returned to the UK for testing. The tests concluded that this was not caused by a biological warfare agent. Our review re-examined this incident and concludes that the evidence suggests that the detection was caused by natural biological material.

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