Northern Ireland professor gives evidence in Gulf War case
Published 11/09/2009 | 04:21
The death of a 39-year-old ex-soldier from cancer was caused by his exposure to depleted uranium during the 1991 Gulf War, an inquest jury has ruled after hearing from an Ulster expert.
In a narrative verdict, the panel found it was more likely than not that Stuart Dyson's death in June last year was “caused or contributed to” by the radioactive material, which is used in military munitions.
The jury heard that Mr Dyson, a Lance Corporal with the Royal Pioneer Corps, cleaned tanks after the first Gulf War during a five-month deployment to the war zone.
His widow Elaine told the day-long hearing that her husband's health had deteriorated after he left the Army in 1992 and that he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread to his liver and spleen, in 2007.
The 41-year-old mother-of-two said her husband, from Brownhills, West Midlands, had been “convinced” before his death that his cancer was linked to his service in the Gulf.
Giving evidence at the inquest at Smethwick Council House, Professor Christopher Busby, an expert on the effects of uranium on health, said Mr Dyson's cancer was “more likely than not” caused by ingestion and inhalation of the substance during his service in the Gulf.
The witness, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, added: “The interesting thing about Mr Dyson's cancer is that he was extremely young — the chances of him acquiring the cancer were something like six per million per year.”
The MoD, which was informed in March that Mr Busby had been called to give evidence, was not represented at the hearing.
However, speaking after the hearing, a spokesman for the MoD said: “We have co-operated fully with the coroner and have provided him with a written report from our technical expert on depleted uranium on the health issues relevant to Mr Dyson's case.”
Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain said he intended to send a report on the death to the Secretary of State for Defence following the verdict.