H-bomb tests 'were bigger than Britain claims'


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The Independent Online

A former RAF navigator has claimed the size of a nuclear bomb detonated during tests in the 1950s could have been three times bigger than the Government officially stated, in evidence which could prove crucial for service veterans suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Flight Lieutenant Joseph Pasquini, who served in the RAF's 76 Squadron, took measurements during the UK's biggest nuclear test blast at Christmas Island in the Pacific on 28 April 1958 – known as Grapple Y.

Mr Pasquini, who is not one of those suing the MoD, claims he was told the size of the bomb was "in the 10 megaton range", not the 3.2 megatons the MoD has officially stated.

Breaking a 50-year silence because of his anger at the way the veterans have been treated, he added that official records showing how much radiation aircrews were exposed to had been altered.

Today a four-day hearing begins at the Supreme Court in which nine test cases out of a total 1,011 claimants could win the right to sue the MoD. The veterans claim that during the 1950s and 1960s they were exposed to unsafe levels of radiation in tests, leading to cancers and other medical problems.