Between 1952 and 1954, I served in the RAF as a national serviceman. In 1953, when I was 19 years old, I ‘volunteered’ to help find a cure for the common cold and on 4 May 1953, I arrived at The Chemical and Biological Research Station at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Twenty servicemen arrived that week, all from the RAF.

On 6 May 1953, twenty-year-old Ronald Maddison died within 45 minutes of having 200 milligrams of Sarin (GB) nerve agent deliberately dripped on to his skin. Two days earlier, I had received the same amount of Sarin in exactly the same way. The inquest on Ronald Maddison (held behind closed doors) recorded a verdict of misadventure.

It would appear that we were duped into attending this programme, as no common cold research has ever been carried out at the Porton Down base.I have suffered a catalogue of health problems since my visit and I believe my nervous and immune systems have been damaged as a result of the above experiment. The Police investigation into past activities at Porton Down was long overdue and I am pleased to recognize that this vigorous enquiry was a serious attempt to discover the truth.

My concern is that between 1916 and the present day many veterans and their families have lived with the long-term effects of those experiments, and now at this critical stage of the enquiry those most affected have no organised representation. My ambition is to ensure the questions that have disturbed Porton Down veterans and their families for decades will be brought out into the open. This web site will be maintained for the duration of the Police investigation, offering support, guidance to Porton Down veterans and their families. The Porton Down Veterans’ Support Group intends to maintain a liaison with the Ministry of Defence, the Wiltshire Police, the Royal British Legion, the War Pensions Agency, the Medical Research Council, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and Victim Support.

If you took part in the service volunteer programme or are a widowed spouse or family member with information or concerns regarding recurring patterns of ill-health, please go to the “Registration Page” and complete the form or send an email. There is no membership fee, as I will be seeking sponsorship from other sources. However, any donations will be gratefully accepted. Any information you submit will be protected by the PDVSG and will not be released to a third party without your consent.

The Porton Down Veterans’ Support Group has arranged legal representation through Mr. Alan Care of THOMPSON SNELL & PASSMORE, a UK based firm of solicitors. Ken Earl. Founder of the Porton Down Veterans Support Group.


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Mr. Ken Earl
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