Lab chiefs rule out Iraqi-style chemical thefts

November 28, 1997

Security in Britain's university laboratories is now so tight that the theft of dangerous chemicals as allegedly occurred in the 1980s by Iraqi students would be almost impossible, it is claimed.

Bernard Mallows, secretary of the University Safety Association, says he would be very surprised if students could have access to dangerous chemicals at any British university without having first gone through very stringent controls. He said poisons had to be registered and stored and that university controls were regularly inspected by the Health and Safety Executive.

An Iraqi student, Firial Al-Saedi, undertook research at Birmingham University in the 1980s. It is alleged that she may have tried to obtain dangerous chemicals, such as Bombay bubonic plague. A spokesman for Birmingham University said safety regulations were now far tighter than they were ten years ago and the university no longer kept such substances on the premises.

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