Nuclear veterans denied claim for compensation

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The Independent Online

Nuclear test veterans who believe they developed cancers and other illnesses after being forced to witness atomic bomb experiments in the 1950s have lost their claim for compensation.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that nine former servicemen who failed to bring their legal cases within the statutory time limit could not sue the Ministry of Defence, overturning a previous ruling in their favour.

The servicemen blame their ill-health, including cancer, skin defects and fertility problems, on involvement in Britain's nuclear tests on the Australian mainland, Monte Bello islands and Christmas Island between 1952 and 1958. Despite payouts to former servicemen in the US, France and China, Britain has said there is no case for compensation, and that there is no scientific justification for a full investigation into birth defects suffered by the veterans' children and grandchildren.

The MoD, while acknowledging its "debt of gratitude", denies negligence.

Nevertheless, 1,000 other cases which were brought within the time limit will be heard by the court.

Yesterday, Lady Justice Smith, Lord Justice Leveson and Sir Mark Waller ruled that nine out of the 10 cases were statute-barred, while the tenth, that of the late Bert Sinfield, would proceed.

Solicitor Neil Sampson, for the veterans, said after the hearing that he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

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