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Gulf War Syndrome

Volume 407: debated on Friday 20 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of the appeal in the case of Mr. Shaun Rusling, and its implications for other Service personnel suffering illnesses due to mobilisation for or action in the 1991 Gulf War. [120495]

The High Court judgment of 13 June 2003 against the Ministry of Defence, as appellant, rested on a number of considerations. A key consideration was that the Pensions Appeal Tribunal was entitled to find, in Mr. Rusling's case, that the Ministry of Defence had failed to show beyond reasonable doubt that disablement due to 'Gulf War Syndrome', which he claimed in 1994, was neither attributable nor aggravated by his Service in the armed forces. The High Court made it clear that it was not in a position to express any views on whether, according to current medical research, 'Gulf War Syndrome' was or was not a 'single disease entity', and the judge confirmed that the court had not expressed any such view in its judgment. The court confirmed that all other cases would have to be decided on their own facts.We would not expect the level of Mr. Rusling's war pension to be affected by this judgment as the disablement that he describes as 'Gulf War Syndrome' is already being fully compensated for in his war pension award, using the World Health Organisation's International Classification of diseases, 10th edition, (ICD10) category, "Signs, Symptoms and Ill-Defined Conditions".Of those veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict who have already claimed for conditions they attribute to their Service in the armed forces, many have already received a war pension. These awards have been based on consideration on whether there was evidence of disablement and whether this was attributable to Service. Where these have been satisfied, an award has been made. Similarly, therefore, the eligibility for an award and its level has not been affected by the issue of whether or not there was a single disease entity, 'Gulf War Syndrome'.