HOLYROOD’S child abuse inquiry will hear claims that British military scientists conducted drug tests on orphans in Scottish mental hospitals.
Published: 00:20, Sun, December 21, 2014
By BEN BORLAND
The allegations centre on at least four institutions where thousands of children are said to have been experimented upon in conditions described as “like something out of Auschwitz”.
It is alleged that Porton Down, the top secret military facility in Wiltshire, was involved in trialling drugs for use in the Cold War on youngsters who were regarded as “feeble-minded”.
One survivor told this newspaper he has obtained written and video evidence that he will pass to the public inquiry into historical abuse of children in care when it begins next year.
The man, now in his 50s, has been advised by lawyers to conceal his identity for his own safety until his full submission can be lodged at the inquiry announced by Scottish Education Secretary Angela Constance.
However, he was willing to divulge some of his intended testimony about the treatment he and others suffered.
He said: “Six and seven year olds were tied to racks and given electric shocks.
"I was incarcerated with orderlies armed with rubber coshes.
"We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it.
“I was there, I saw it with my own eyes.
We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it
"I was classed as a misfit, a mental oddity, made a ward of court.
"My mother was killed and I became an orphan, so they took it upon themselves to have me experimented upon.”
Lennox Castle Hospital, near Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, is one of four Scottish institutions alleged to have been involved.
The witness believes there may have been as many as 3,500 children who were involved in the Porton Down testing programme over the years.
He said: “They were using orphans to experiment with drugs for the Cold War.
"The drug programme ran from 1948 to 1982.
"I believe this happened throughout the UK but I’m referring to Scotland.
“I have this evidence, on paper and on film, and I will hand it to the public inquiry.
"It was like something out of Auschwitz and people will be full of revulsion when they learn the state allowed this to happen.”
Lennox Castle Hospital, which closed in 2002 and is now the site of Celtic FC’s training ground, was home to children and adults with learning difficulties or conditions such as Down’s syndrome, as well as truants, unmarried mothers and wayward teenagers.
Some patients were sent there as children, often for the most trivial reasons, and ended up spending decades locked up.
Conditions improved after a series of damning reports and investigations, including a 1986 World in Action TV documentary which led to questions in the House of Commons.
Last night, Professor Ulf Schmidt of the University of Kent, Britain’s leading expert on human experimentation at Porton Down, said he had never heard of a drug trial programme involving orphans.
He added: “That is not to say these experiments didn’t happen, but I would be very cautious in dealing with these allegations.
"Some stories have appeared and reappeared over the past 50 years, including a similar one about drug testing and euthanasia involving elderly people that was eventually shown to be false.”
Six years ago hundreds of veterans who ‘volunteered’ to take part in tests at Porton Down were offered £3million in compensation.
They were exposed to nerve agents, such as sarin gas, and hallucinogens, such as LSD.
In the most infamous case, from 1953, Ronald Maddison took part in a trial of what he believed was a cold remedy, but died within an hour of having sarin dabbed on his arm.
Other Porton Down experiments included spraying bacteria over the south coast of England and dropping cancer-causing particles from planes.
And Gruinard Island in Wester Ross had to be sealed off for almost 50 years after it was contaminated with anthrax during the Second World War.
Porton Down is the home of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, an agency of the Ministry of Defence.
A spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of any tests involving children at Portown Down and have seen absolutely no evidence to back up these claims.”