Fight is ‘not over’ for nuclear test veterans

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A NUCLEAR test veteran from Moulton says the fight is not over for his fellow servicemen, despite them losing an appeal in the Supreme Court to seek compensation.

Douglas Hern (75), of Bell Lane, says he is disappointed but still determined after the decision by the panel of seven judges last week.

Mr Hern and fellow members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association claim they have been left with varying health problems, including rare cancers and skin defects, after being exposed to nuclear bomb testing on Christmas Island in the 1950s.

It took the group of 1,011 veterans more than two years to reach this stage in the proceedings.

However, the court ruled on Wednesday that too much time has elapsed since the health problems came to light for the compensation claims to be made against the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Mr Hern said: “I am very disappointed because whether they are out of time or not, the illnesses that manifest are still the problem.

“It is still something the MOD will persistently say that we were in no harm, no danger and the radiation did not cause our illnesses.”

Mr Hern witnessed five detonations while serving with the Navy. He believes the death of his daughter Jill, who died aged 13 from Cushings Syndrome, may be linked to this exposure. He says the children of other ex-servicemen also suffer from varying illnesses.

Mr Hern says the veterans will now speak to their legal team and wait to see how they would like to proceed.

Although Mr Hern said he will fight for as long as it takes, he added: “It is difficult because you do not see this as justice being used to serve justice.

“It’s being used to protect the MOD and it’s sinister.”

A spokesman for the MOD said: “The Ministry of Defence recognises the debt of gratitude we have to the servicemen who took part in the nuclear tests.

“They were important tests that helped to keep this nation secure at a difficult time in terms of nuclear technology.

“The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the MOD that the claims brought by nuclear test veterans were time barred and declined to allow the claims to proceed under the statutory discretion.”