COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Legion pressures for hearing on Gulf War illness debate

The Royal British Legion has scored a major breakthrough in its 10-year battle for a public inquiry into Gulf War-related illnesses.

Five thousand ex-servicemen in the UK believe they are suffering from some form of Gulf War illness, but the Government has resisted calls for a public inquiry.

Last week, the charity used its links with MPs and a US congressional subcommittee to arrange for a high-profile hearing at Westminster, complete with witnesses and medical experts.

The hearing secured blanket media coverage on TV, radio and national newspapers, particularly as one of the witnesses, Samantha Thompson, was widowed earlier this year.

Three US congressmen attended the hearing, the first US congressional committee ever held in Parliament. They were there as part of an ongoing US investigation into Gulf War-related illnesses. The charity hopes the hearing and attendant media coverage will force the Government to agree to an inquiry.

The charity is fighting for compensation for sufferers but first needs the Government to recognise there is a problem, said a spokeswoman.

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