We Did It! Nuke Veterans' Victory: Now They Can Sue

Sunday Mirror (London, England), June 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

We Did It! Nuke Veterans' Victory: Now They Can Sue


Byline: SUSIE BONIFACE

WAR widow Shirley Denson felt the warm tears of joy slowly trickle down her face as she heard the judge's words...

After all their years of campaigning for justice, Britain's nuclear test veterans had just been handed their first breakthrough victory.

And the tears turned to broad smiles as Shirley joined the veterans and their families on the steps of the High Court to punch the air and delightedly pop open the champagne.

Friday's historic ruling represented a true landmark in the campaign - backed by the Sunday Mirror and its late columnist Richard Stott.

Shirley's husband Eric had been one of 22,000 men forced to witness atomic blasts in the South Pacific more than 50 years ago - an event which has cursed her family and thousands like them.

He and his human guinea pig comrades lined up on beaches, many wearing nothing more than T-shirts and flip-flops, to test the effects of radiation while generals sought protection elsewhere.

Eric died from the effects of the bomb and his children, grandchildren and greatchildren all have birth defects - severe brain, heart, eye and tooth abnormalities.

Yet successive governments have denied any link between the radioactive fallout from the bombs and the illnesses and argued the group seeking compensation had waited too long to lodge a claim.

After the High Court ruling, Shirley said: "This is the beginning of the end. There's some light after years of darkness. I can barely believe it." Mr Justice Foskett had just given approval for a full trial of 1,011 veterans and widows suing the MoD for negligence following the atomic tests between 1952 and 1967. he urged the MoD to settle the claim - which legal sources say could cost pounds 100million in compensation - out of court.

Campaigners' hopes were raised even higher yesterday with the news that Veterans Minister Kevan Jones has called a meeting a clear the MoD might be settle the claims, a senior Government source said last night: "We are keen to avoid lengthy litigation." of senior MoD officials for tomorrow to discuss the case .

Of the 22,000 servicemen who witnessed the blasts, only 3,000 are thought to still be alive. Yet thousands of children and grandchildren have suffered - and still suffer - the aftereffects of fallout. …

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