FIFTY-ONE years ago there was no justice for Ronald Maddison and his family.

His young life was ended while he was serving his country as the result of a chemical warfare experiment.

In return his family was offered a few pounds by the Ministry of Defence to help cover funeral costs. And his death was the subject of an inquest in 1953 behind closed doors, which was a blatant whitewash.

A second inquest, which ended yesterday, represented a thorough and meticulous investigation into the circumstances surrounding Ronald Maddison's death. The jury's verdict of unlawful killing has to be treated with the utmost respect.

The MoD said it would take some time to reflect on the outcome of the inquest. That response treats both the jury's verdict and the memory of Ronald Maddison with contempt. The same contempt it has shown in hiding the full facts of this tragedy from Ronald Maddison's family for half a century.

This inquest was not the clandestine kangaroo court which sat in judgement in 1953. This was a fair hearing which had justice, not concealment, at its heart.

How much more time does the MoD need to admit its failure in duty of care for Ronald Maddison? It has had 51 years to ponder its guilt.

There must be no more prevarication or evasion.

It is time to do the decent thing and apologise to the family of Ronald Maddison for causing his death, and apologise to the many other young servicemen who were duped and had their lives put in jeopardy but were fortunate to survive.