VETERANS of Britain’s nuclear tests have lost their final battle.
Hundreds of ex-servicemen who say they were made ill as a result of being exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific in the 1950s have lost their Supreme Court bid to be able to launch damages claims against the Ministry of Defence.
More than 1,000 veterans want compensation and they included a Huddersfield man.
Peter Brook, 75, of Almondbury, was just 19 when he was sent to Christmas Island, where he saw five nuclear tests.
The former Army man later developed bladder cancer – he believes as a result of the radiation explosion.
He said of the court verdict: “It’s disappointing but it all comes down to money and is not unexpected.
“There are very few of us left now and in 10 years time, there may be none. But had they lost, the MOD would have been liable to compensation claims from hundreds of families who have lost people to cancer over the past decades.
“I’m a big supporter of Britain and the British way of life but the bureaucracy of the MOD is a perfect example of how not to run anything.”
The veterans had been battling for permission to launch damages claims for some two years.
Although the judgement blocks most claims, a certain number can still proceed because of an earlier legal ruling.
The veterans took their fight to the Supreme Court – the highest court in the UK – in November after battles in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
The appeal was rejected by Supreme Court justices by a majority of four-to-three.
Veterans blame ill-health – including cancer, skin defects and fertility problems – on their involvement in British nuclear tests in Australia, on Christmas Island and in the Pacific Ocean between 1952 and 1958.
The MoD acknowledges a “debt of gratitude” but denies negligence.
Judges expressed sympathy but concluded that veterans lacked evidence to prove links between illness and proximity to tests and said many claims had been made too late.
Lord Wilson, one of the judges who rejected the appeal, ruled that the actions had “no real prospect of success”.