Firms in the UK, the United States, West Germany, the Netherland and France armed Saddam with chemical weapons which he used to target Iran where around 100,000 soldiers directly fell victim to the attacks mainly involving mustard gas agent.
None of the governments raised any human rights concerns nor did they object to the contracts to build the infrastructure and give the know-how to Iraq under Saddam to create its own chemical weapons.
In effect, BBC’s Cyril “Roy” Benford who died at 78 in January 2011 fell victim to the weapons his own government was involved in their development.
An inquest into Benford’s death at Wycombe Law Courts, Buckinghamshire, heard that Benford had died of the effects of mustard gas, which he inhaled back in 1984 on the border between Iran and Iraq just in the middle of an eight-year war the Iraqi side imposed on Iran in 1980.
Benford was on the border area for a report for BBC’s Newsnight program when an Iranian soldier opened a chemical bomb shell that released mustard gas.
The sound recordist was the nearest to the soldier and inhaled the mustard gas from the shell leading to his intoxication, the inquest heard.
Home Office pathologist William Feganearl, told the inquest that he had seen Benford before his death at the age of 78 and found that he had developed lung complications that were consistent with mustard gas intoxication including breathlessness.
“The inhalation of the mustard gas has set up a reaction in the lungs and has resulted in breathing problems and the scarring in the lungs,” he said.
This comes as according to Coroner Richard Hullet, the mustard gas agent could prevail for 20 to 40 years in the body before complications that lead to death begin to appear.
Britain and its western allies have always been vocal in condemnation of human rights abuses around the world but that has been in words rather than in actions.
Cases like that of Benford blow the cover off the crimes against humanity and violations of human rights Britain has helped other regimes commit.
That leads one to say, the British government indirectly killed BBC’s Benford by weapons they could prevent Saddam from attaining.