Veteran Damage Claims on Hold

Article excerpt

DAMAGE claims against the Ministry of Defence over Britain's atomic bomb testing have been put on hold.

The Ministry was given the go-ahead yesterday to appeal against a court ruling which allowed Britain's atomic test veterans to claim damages.

They include Frank Gray from Billingham who was on duty at the first British atomic bomb test in the Monte Bello Islands, off Australia.

His wife Sheila has been part of the campaign for justice for years.

Mr Justice Foskett said that while his decision would doubtless come as a disappointment to the servicemen, the grant of permission was ''almost inevitable'', given the case was of significant public interest.

Whichever party lost would, in his view, have been entitled to ask the Court of Appeal to review the decision.

However, this was not intended as any encouragement to appeal.

''The encouragement I gave to the parties to try to resolve this litigation without recourse to further - very costly - proceedings remains in place," he said.

The judge revealed that the overall costs of the litigation to date stood at over pounds 14m, - pounds 11.8m for the claimants and pounds 2. …