Nuclear bomb test vets take compensation case to the Supreme Court

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VETERANS who are fighting for compensation for radiation exposure during atomic bomb tests have begun a legal battle with the Ministry of Defence in the Supreme Court.

Members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association are attempting to sue the MoD for ill-health they say was caused during their service at British nuclear weapon sites on Christmas Island, Australia, and in the Pacific Ocean between 1952 and 1958.

Among them is David Riley, 72, of Locksway Road, Milton, who has undergone a number of operations for complications, including kidney failure, which he claims was caused by the order to turn his back towards the atomic flash when a nuclear bomb was set off.

He said: ‘All we want is justice. I and many of my comrades have suffered from many health problems.’

Veterans blame ill-health – including cancer, skin defects and fertility problems – on their involvement in the British nuclear tests.

The MoD acknowledges a ‘debt of gratitude’ to the veterans but denies negligence.

James Dingemans QC, for the veterans, yesterday told Supreme Court judges that the MoD’s stance was ‘hopeless’.

The latest court battle comes after the MoD won an appeal against a High Court ruling that 10 nuclear test veterans deserve compensation.

The veterans fought back in July and have been allowed to take their case to the Supreme Court, which sat yesterday.

If the vets succeed, around 1,000 more claims are likely to be brought against the MoD.

The Supreme Court hearing is due to last three days but the panel of seven top judges may choose to reserve its final judgment to a later date.