Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nuclear test veterans launch case

Nuclear test veterans launch case

Veterans involved in British nuclear tests in the South Pacific are to launch a legal bid against the government at the High Court later.

Ex-servicemen want compensation for illnesses they claim are the result of exposure to radiation in the 1950s.

But MoD lawyers will try to derail their claims before a full hearing, by arguing the tests happened too long ago for compensation to be considered.

The MoD says it recognises the troops' "vital role" in British nuclear tests.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, Britain carried out a series of nuclear weapons tests in mainland Australia, the Montebello islands off the west Australian coast and on Christmas Island, in the South Pacific.

Veterans who served in the Army, Royal Navy and Air Force, as well as personnel from New Zealand and Fiji, were involved in the tests.

We are the frontline heroes from the Cold War

Douglas Hern, British Nuclear Test Veterans' Association

They say there were not properly protected from the blasts and did not know the possible consequences.

Many blame ill health, including cancers, skin defects, fertility problems and reduced life expectancy, on radiation exposure.

The High Court hearing to assess whether the claims are barred by the Limitation Act 1980 begins on Wednesday and may take two weeks.

Solicitors representing the veterans say if a compensation hearing can go ahead, the MoD could face claims from up to 1,000 individuals, potentially costing millions of pounds.

Douglas Hern, of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, said the serving troops had been "part of an experiment".

"We were human guinea pigs. We are the frontline heroes from the Cold War. There was no-one closer to it than us," he said.

He blames radiation exposure for causing his diabetes. He also believes that the death of his daughter from cancer at the age of 13 had a hereditary link to what he calls the "genetic confusion" in his own body.

An MoD spokesman said: "The UK government recognises the vital contribution service personnel played in the UK's nuclear tests during the 1950s and understands its obligation to veterans.

"When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation.

"Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid. There is a case ongoing and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further."


There is so much wrong with this the United States has even compensated the veterans used in the nuclear experiments, but they also have the same arguments about the genetic changes and the cancers their children suffer from. They are having enormous problems trying to establish those links.

Sphere: Related Content