A NUCLEAR test veteran from Moulton spoke of his delight at a “victory for justice” after servicemen won a battle to allow them to continue to seek compensation.
Douglas Hern, of Bell Lane, and fellow members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association are campaigning for the Government to pay them compensation because they say illnesses they and their family have suffered were linked to their exposure to Cold War bomb test sites.
Last year their fight was dealt a big blow after the Court of Appeal ruled many of the veterans’ claims could not be heard because they were being brought too long after the event.
However, veterans took the fight to the UK’s highest court – the Supreme Court – and won the right to appeal that decision.
Mr Hern said: “I am elated. I didn’t really know what to expect.
“After my dealings with the Government eyeball to eyeball I didn’t see a lot of future in it. Evidently our legal team have really done their job.
“It’s good to see justice being used for justice rather than injustice which is what we’ve felt in the past.”
Mr Hern served on Christmas Island where he witnessed the pluming mushroom cloud explosions of the nuclear test. He feels he was poisoned by radiation and feels the death of his daughter Jill when she was 13 to a rare form of cancer, was linked to his service.
Veterans are expected to ask the Supreme Court to let them launch their damages claims at a hearing in November and if they win that they will go on to the High Court.
Speaking outside the court on Thursday veterans’ solicitor Neil Sampson said: “This is a significant step forward in the veterans’ fight for justice, but it’s by no means the end of the road.
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision and hope that we can have a hearing at a very early date.
“Unfortunately it may well be another year before the Supreme Court is able to have a full hearing of this matter.”
Mr Hern met fellow campaigners Trevor Butler and Colin Clark at his home in Moulton ahead of the hearing. He has been interviewed for television and radio in the last week and said he is pleased that their cause is getting wider exposure.
The Supreme Court hearing was also broadcast live on the internet through Sky News as part of a new bid to broadcast some proceedings.
Mr Hern said: “We made history back then and now we’re making history again today.”