A VETERAN exposed to radiation from nuclear bomb testing has won the latest stage of his battle for compensation.
Almondbury man Peter Brook was one of more than 1,000 ex-servicemen who formed part of the appeal at the Supreme Court yesterday.
Mr Brook, 74, witnessed five nuclear weapon tests on Christmas Island. He later developed bladder cancer – he believes as a result of the radiation explosion.
He welcomed the court’s ruling and said: “The Ministry of Defence want me to prove my cancer was caused by nuclear explosion, that is very difficult on the standard of proof needed for a criminal court. But this is a civil claim where it’s judged on the balance of probabilities and I think there is a very good chance we could win.”
Yesterday the UK’s highest court gave veterans permission to further argue their right to seek damages.
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 acknowledged a “debt of gratitude” but denies negligence.
In 1956, Mr Brook was posted to Christmas Island, now known as Kiritimati. He left in 1957 after 12 months, having witnessed two nuclear weapon tests, but returned in 1958 and spent 12 months on Christmas Island witnessing a further three tests.
He is among the 232 British Army officers, 266 RAF, 196 Navy, three British civilians, 189 Fujians, six Fujian civilians and 129 New Zealand servicemen taking on the Government in a claim for compensation.
The USA, Canada, France and China have already agreed to pay compensation to their soldiers involved in nuclear testing.
The Almondbury man was given protective clothing for just one of the four Operation Grapple nuclear tests he witnessed.
It was in 2004 that Mr Brook, husband to Pauline and father to three, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He had the tumour removed then later his bladder was removed.
He added: “I’ve been subjected to five explosions living within two miles of ground zero, which would make it probable that the radiation was the cause of my cancer.
“I believe it should now finally be resolved – there are around 1,000 claimants and that number is depreciating as we all get older.
“If they stall this any longer they won’t have to pay up because we’ll all be gone, but maybe that’s what they want.”
Announcing the decision, Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, said: “The application for permission to appeal is granted, but may I just emphasise that this is only an application for permission to appeal and the court would not wish to raise false optimism in what are obviously very difficult cases.”
The next hearing is expected to be in November.