“Societies in decline have no use for visionaries.” ~ Anais Nin
After the Gulf War in 1991, thousands of British soldiers started complaining of illnesses in the years following their return. In America, the problem was far worse with hundreds of thousands of soldiers being effected.
In 2011, 20 years after the Gulf War, statistics showed that over 9,700 British Gulf War Veterans were in receipt of a War Disablement Pension for their service in that theatre of operations. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a mortality data report in 2011 that claimed only 1193 Gulf War Veterans had died. (Overall 53,500 UK service personnel served in the 1991 Gulf War).
I started to choke on my scrambled eggs when I read that one morning in 2011 in a national newspaper. From 1996 to 1997 I was an elected member of the Gulf Veterans Association national committee, and we had over 1,500 recorded Gulf War Veterans deaths in just 5 years since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. And that’s only what we had recorded as not all Gulf War Veterans had registered with us, only approximately 15%.
The MoD were claiming that ONLY 1,193 Gulf War Veterans had died in 20 years. After I stopped choking, I picked up the phone and I attempted to recruit the best humans right lawyer in the country, which took some time to convince, but which I eventually managed to do in 2012. For 3 months during 2012 I worked with a former solicitor of the year who had accumulated numerous prestigious awards to commence legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the 9,700 Gulf War Veterans who were awarded War Pensions, and for all those that had died and their families.
In 1995, whilst I was still serving in the military I observed a monumental cover up which involved MoD medical staff who were visiting Army Medical Centres and they were removing all of the medical notes of Gulf War Veterans who had visited their Doctor complaining of illnesses. I was concerned by this as I had a period of 2 weeks in 1994 where I was urinating black pee which my Army doctor had initially sent me for tests, but then withdrew them. The black pee cleared up within a couple of weeks but I was still slightly concerned so I had tests done in a German medical practice. When the results came back the tests showed that my liver had been severely damaged and further tests were required. (It wasn’t alcohol related as I only drank occasionally). I took the results to the Army medical doctors and they steadfastly refused to carry out any further tests. I complained several times and I was then eventually brought in front of the most senior officer in my unit, the Officer Commanding, where I was bluntly told that if I continued to pursue this, it would effect my career in the military. I was effectively being gagged. I was expected to live with a dodgy liver (and later on some other minor symptoms) without asking any questions. I wondered, why are they preventing me from pursuing this. It was surreal. I managed to keep quiet for a while, but my conscience would not allow me to continue without saying or doing something. The following year I would inevitably become the Gulf War ‘Deep Throat’ as I resorted to secret squirrel negotiations with the British national press.
In 1994 and 1995 national newspapers such as The News of the World were printing regular double page spreads on an illness which was being termed as ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ that was effecting thousands of Gulf War Veterans and that hundreds had died. One of the major concerns was that Gulf War Veterans had been given a vast cocktail of experimental vaccines and this was probably the most likely cause of all the illnesses and deaths. It appeared that almost every Sunday morning when I used to go to the NAAFI to buy a newspaper there was a story about the illnesses effecting Gulf War Veterans. Each week, I got angrier as it was impossible to plan for the future with a liver that I had been told had been severely effected without knowing what the actual prognosis was. If someone, anyone would have told me that the liver regenerates itself every 3 years, I wouldn’t have ever embarked on the path that I did, but it appears destiny had a role for me that I did not expect, or really want, but its kind of turned out to have been a really interesting journey.
Each week with every story I read about Gulf War Veterans dying my angry levels increased until one day whilst on my dinner break at an Army camp in Munster, Germany, I decided to phone the News of the World. I told them about the Ministry of Defence staff who were visiting Army Medical Centres and they were removing medical notes of the illnesses that Gulf War Veterans were reporting. I was interviewed over the phone and the following week a double page spread was published. I must have been slightly petrified back then of putting so much on the line as I didn’t tell anyone what I had done, as I was aware it was a career ending move, and if caught, a lengthy spell in a military prison. At the end of the phone call the journalist asked me to phone back if I came across any more information. This is where my journey as the Gulf War Deep Throat began. ( Deep Throat refers to the Watergate Whistleblower, not the porn movie).
Over the next year any information I came across on the Gulf War Veterans cover up I used my secret squirrel methods (the payphone on the military base) to phone my contact at the News of the World, which on most occasions did produce a published story or was part of an article they were already working on. By 1996, after numerous published articles in the press, my ‘Deep Throat’ days were coming to an end as I had decided to leave the military for a short time to pursue medical treatment, and I hoped to then re-join the Army but in a different corps, the Intelligence Corps, who had accepted my transfer request the previous year.
I left the Army and returned to the UK in February 1996. My first point of call was to register with a GP and pursue a medical prognosis and any possible treatment so I could continue with what plans I had made prior to the dodgy liver episode, and continue with my life. As it turned out, the British medical authorities were exactly the same as the Army. They also refused to pursue any medical testing for Gulf War Veterans. This was due to scientific reports by the Ministry of Defence which was stating that there was nothing wrong with Gulf War Veterans. Not only was there no medical tests available, there was certainly no treatment options. Over the next 2 years the only offer of treatment that was given to me by the NHS was acupuncture.
In March 1996 I had been offered a very well paid job, but I felt I was in the same situation I was in when I was in the Army without a real prognosis. The one NHS consultant I did see had mentioned a liver transplant in the future, which only fanned the flames which were by now at volcanic level, so I decided to turn down the job offer and join the campaign with the thousands of other Gulf War Veterans.
I contacted the Gulf Veterans Association and I was offered various types of work to do for them which eventually led to working full time on the campaign. Within a few months I had been elected onto the national committee. My initial role was a Regional Adviser for North Wales and not long after I was selected to become the national publicist. My time as the Gulf War ‘Deep Throat’ would prove to have done me well……..
My role as the national publicist was to create as much publicity as I could to embarrass the government as the MoD were obviously not providing any adequate medical testing or treatment programs, which was in stark contrast to the Americans who were investing tens of millions of dollars into discovering what was making their troops ill. Millions of dollars were also being spent on various different treatment options. The UK MoD budget for medical testing and treatment was £0.00.
Using my past experience as ‘Deep Throat’ I developed contacts in all of the national newspapers where I initially made good progress in having articles published about Gulf War Veterans illnesses and pouring as much scorn on the Establishment as was necessary, but after a few months the MoD issued a D-Notice against me, the Gulf Veterans Association and the publicity I was creating.
( A D-Notice is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security. In the UK the original D-Notice system was introduced in 1912 and run as a voluntary system by a joint committee headed by an Assistant Secretary of the War Office and a representative of the Press Association. Any D-Notices or DA-notices are only advisory requests, and so are not legally enforceable; hence, news editors can choose not to abide by them. However, they are generally complied with by the media).
I was being gagged, again. As it turned out, it was lucky that I had ever discovered the D-Notice, otherwise I would have never known, as a local journalist I had been working with to develop an article had told me a press release I had submitted to the local newspaper had received a D-Notice from the MoD, which he shouldn’t have told me about. The MoD had stated that the article would compromise national security as it provided details on how the vaccines had made Gulf War Veterans ill. ( I later discovered during a meeting with the Secretary of State for Defence in February 1997 that any subject matter to do with how so many Gulf War Veteran’s had become ill and had died was being regarded as national security).
I was absolutely livid. How could the government give experimental vaccines to tens of thousands of soldiers, knowing that they would cause illnesses (later proved at the Gulf War Veterans Public Inquiry in 2004) and then deny them medical tests and then treatment. It was outrageous, criminal even. Government departments were using national security to not only cover up their crimes, but I was also regarded as a threat to national security. I felt like my future was being ripped away from me by some evil dictatorial psychopaths, so I decided to organise something big, much bigger than I had previously ever dreamed of.
That night I went to bed and I wrote on a notepad, ‘How can I make the government give me and all the other Gulf War Veterans the medical testing and treatment we all so rightly deserved’.
The next morning when I woke up, I had the answer……….
Viva La Revolution
The idea that came to me was to march tens of thousands of Gulf War Veterans to the Houses of Parliament on election day, 1st May 1997. I would also recruit all other ex-military personnel who had a grievance with the government to march and protest with us. If necessary, we would peacefully occupy the Houses of Parliament on election day until the government agreed to the medical tests that Gulf Veterans were demanding that should have been made mandatory from the outset. To me, it was simple. I lived in a democracy, and I will use my democratic rights.
An unlikely revolutionary leader: I purposely gave a low figure of only 2,500 Veterans that would be marching on Parliament as if I had stated 250,000 or more, the consensus was I might get shot or have an unfortunate accident.
The Snakes in Suits
Little did I know, when I announced this publicity campaign in the local and regional press, which also involved a 6 week city to city cycle tour which involved mostly former members of the SAS, the snakes in suits at MI5 Headquarters thought they had a potential revolution on their hands.
With this sole idea, I had obtained the label as a radical revolutionary which would always be associated to me…..
The Cycle Tour
The idea for the cycle tour started after I had a conversation with several ex-members of the Special Forces regiment the SAS. Some of these guys had left the SAS prior to the Gulf War but were then called up to serve as medics, and they too were given the vast cocktail of vaccines. (All of the soldiers who served in the Special Forces Group for the Gulf War 1991 were not given the experimental vaccines. You can imagine the conversation at the MoD, “ If we give the vaccines to the SAS and the SBS and we screw them all up, I think they may hunt us down and it will be off with our heads”. So the SAS, SBS and other Special Forces never had the vaccines).
The idea I developed involved recruiting a 10 man ex-SAS cycle team who would cycle on average 50 miles a day between them, which was 5 miles each, not a herculean task for ex-special forces members you would think, but some of these guys had serious medical issues as a result of the vaccines which later killed several of them. We would cycle from one city to the next starting exactly 6 weeks before the general election on the 1st May 1997. We would start and end the cycle tour from the MoD building in Whitehall, London, to create maximum publicity.
A part of the media strategy I devised was that when we cycled into each city, my publicity team would have arranged radio interviews with all of the main radio stations as well as the local and regional newspapers. (This idea came about after the MoD gagged my articles in the national press, so I decided to use the local and regional press outlets and avoid using information which could be deemed to be of ‘national security’). All of the interviews would have been done by the ex-SAS members who would have been highly critical of the government, and the manner in which the MoD had deserted thousands of troops that were being left to suffer and die without treatment which was due to the MoD’s negligence.
After the Gulf War there was a lot of public furore over the SAS due to their legendary exploits during the 1991 conflict, and the books that were written and published by the likes of ex-SAS members Andy McNab and Chris Ryan. I was going to use the furore surrounding the SAS to create another one, which was the despicable way that Gulf War Veterans were being treated, as it was also happening to ex-SAS members. We knew this strategy would create a huge wave of publicity.
Another aspect of the media strategy was for the ex-SAS members who would be giving the interviews to the media everyday involved giving a shout out to ‘all’ ex-forces who had been mistreated by the government over the last few decades to join us on our protest march on parliament on election day, because enough was enough, and I knew that figure was in the millions. I wanted as many ex-forces to march with us to the Houses of Parliament to make it a complete success, and I knew a shout out from the SAS to all ex-forces would have achieved that.
I had also contacted and spoken to all the ex-military charities across the whole country and I requested that their membership should be notified of the protest plan, to which they all mostly agreed, such was the revulsion most ex-forces organisations and members held against the Ruling Class, as they had been continually mistreating ex-military personnel, mainly from the working classes who had fought there wars for them for decades, if not centuries. I was requesting the assistance of the military charities to march on London, and I had it.
I was also granted funding from service charities as well as obtaining funding from various other sources. I also contacted National Express the coach company and I explained the plans for the cycle tour involving ex-SAS members and they sponsored us immediately. They offered to supply us a coach for the cycling aspect to the tour and a back up vehicle as well as some financial assistance. They also allocated their entire fleet of coaches to transport tens of thousands of ex-military to London for the march on the Houses of Parliament on election day.
Everything was going smoothly like cogs in a well oiled machine up until February 1997, around 5 weeks before the cycle tour was due to start, when strange things started to occur, and the cogs started to come flying off, one by one, very quickly……
I had been under surveillance since I had left the military as I had been asking too many questions in relation to Gulf War illnesses and I had probably already been tagged as a potential ‘trouble maker’. I am not aware that the Security Services MI5 were aware of my ‘Deep Throat’ secret squirrel contacts with the national press whilst I was in the Army, so I assumed it was due to the Gulf War Illnesses cover up that the government was intent on keeping a secret, by misusing national security legislation to cover up their crimes. When I had become the Regional Adviser with the Gulf Veterans Association and I had begun campaigning for Gulf War Veterans it was very obvious that I was under surveillance. Initially, it had been covert, but as I had a habit of pointing them all out, they switched to overt, which is surveillance which you are meant to notice as its supposed to induce stress and anxiety, as who enjoys being followed and monitored 24/7 by a large team of ugly surveillance operatives. Fortunately for me, I kind of enjoyed the attention. I felt like I was in a film, and I was the starring role, writing my own script.
When I announced the march on parliament and the cycle tour in the press the surveillance operatives that appeared on the scene were meaner looking brutes, with a penchant for intimidation and being menacing, and even more uglier than the last crew, which we termed as the Special Branch Psycho Squad.
The first big cog to break off was national express coaches. One of the executive directors phoned me and said that he thought that it was not in the best interests of his company to sponsor us, then abruptly hung up. It was easy to conceive that the Snakes in Suits at MI5 had visited the executives with a few heavies citing national security. Then the funding started to get pulled by the military charities. We had been allocated funding which I had been assured of. Suddenly, without explanation, all the major financial backers of the campaign pulled out. At the same time, all of the lads had family members under surveillance and they were all experiencing harassment and intimidation with the hope that they would pull out of the cycle tour. None did, but several family members of some of the lads were beaten up, including wives and children, which made them seriously consider their involvement. There were break in’s, cars stolen, pets poisoned, all of the usual scare and intimidation tactics to prevent us from proceeding.
Within 4 weeks our campaign had been railroaded. I hate to admit it, but they done it with such ease and efficiency that it was awe inspiring to watch the wheels come off my own campaign. Emotionally, it was devastating. I had invested so much time and effort, and we were so close to achieving the impossible. If they could rip our campaign and protest apart with such ease, we had no hope of achieving medical testing and treatment, and that’s what hit me and the rest of the guys the hardest. I had always believed that good overcame evil, but this time, the evil doers were going to win, and win they did.
Gulf War Syndrome has never been acknowledged by the Ministry of Defence. Thousands have died, the exact number is still not known. Over 9,700 Gulf Veterans receive a War Disablement Pension. There has never been any significant medical testing or treatment.
Six months after the campaign and protest was derailed, I resigned from the national committee of the Gulf Veterans Association. I couldn’t ever envision that Gulf War Veterans would ever receive medical treatment. My liver did eventually regenerate itself with no lasting damage.
The surveillance and intimidation that I had noticed which started after I left the military has continued to this day. My efforts of attempting to initially obtain medical treatment for myself, then other Veterans, has left me with an unfortunate label as a radical revolutionary:
A revolutionary person fearlessly advocates radical change. Revolutionary people and ideas challenge the status quo and might be violent or willing to upset the natural order to achieve their goals.
I have been designated as a threat, blacklisted by the Ruling Class, who funnily enough, do not like working class people upsetting their natural order of wealth and privilege. I have experienced excessive, brutal and savage acts of terrorism from the Police State continuously since I resigned from the Gulf War Veterans campaign.
From 1997 to 2010 I witnessed and observed all of the harassment the Police State could throw at me without reacting to any of it, because I thought that if they could understand that in 1996, all I wanted was medical treatment. I was desperate, and desperate people do desperate things, and that’s how I viewed the campaign I organised. I thought that over time they would realise this, but by 2010, my patience had run thin, so I decided to expose all of the Police State/Special Branch harassment that I was experiencing. ( In 2014 I applied to give evidence against Special Branch at the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing Operations). I also decided to become politically involved in anything I could get my teeth into.
In 2011 I was approached by a group of Gulf War Veterans who had heard of my exploits in 1997 and they requested my assistance to start a fresh legal challenge against the MoD. I was reluctant to get involved because I knew it was not a winnable fight, but I still had an urge in me to have another crack at obtaining justice. I thought that if the Establishment could destroy a campaign and protest with ease, what would they do if I launched a legal challenge.
So in 2012, I had finally managed to recruit the best human rights lawyer in the land and we worked together for 3 months to set up what could eventually have been one of the biggest multiparty legal challenges in the UK, set up on behalf of all the deceased Gulf War Veterans and the 9,700 who were left with illnesses. I could go into all the details, but its rather predictable to guess the outcome. The lawyer was stitched up, he lost his licence to practice law, and his once very successful law firm was closed down, his life in ruins.
I am apparently still a radical revolutionary that must be continuously monitored, surveilled, terrorised and never be allowed in a position where I can inspire other people to use their democratic rights to do something outrageous, such as, storming the Houses Of Parliament, peacefully of course……..
My name is Andy Lewis, I am a Targeted Individual.