[A-List] UK military: troops gagged
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Tue Mar 2 04:22:15 MST 2004
Troops 'gagged' over anthrax jab concerns
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent
The Herald, March 02 2004
SOLDIERS calling for an inquiry into the possible effects of Iraq war
anthrax vaccinations on the health of their unborn children have accused the
Ministry of Defence of attempting to gag them.
The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association claims that the military
authorities are trying to suppress the outcry over a cluster of infant
deaths at a small base in Hampshire.
Since the end of hostilities last year, 33 Field Hospital, at Gosport, has
recorded two miscarriages, one still birth, a forced termination and three
premature births among army wives and partners.
In each of the seven cases, at least one of the parents had been vaccinated
against the threat of Iraq's suspected anthrax bio-weapons.
Shaun Rusling, chairman of the veterans' group, said the soldiers had now
been "ordered" not to speak to the press.
He said it was "very worrying indeed for the MoD to resort to these kind of
tactics to stop the truth coming out".
An MoD spokeswoman denied that the ban was an attempt to suppress a
potentially embarrassing story, saying it was "normal procedure" for service
personnel to obtain permission to give interviews to the media.
"The armed forces are 250,00 strong. If every individual went off and gave
their own individual story it would not present an accurate reflection of
the services as a whole. We have to look at it from a more strategic point
of view," she said.
"We expect individuals to obtain clearance for interviews. It's the same in
the police and the NHS. It's not some draconian military measure."
Charles Plumridge, spokesman for the veterans' association, said he had
received a number of telephone calls from expectant service parents who had
been vaccinated against anthrax, concerned that their offspring might suffer
from some kind of defect.
The anthrax vaccination is a diluted version of the disease that is meant to
stimulate the body's natural defences.
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