05 June 2009
Ex-servicemen 'given green light' for compensation claim
Servicemen who were involved in the UK's nuclear test programme in the 1950s have won a legal battle which will allow them to seek compensation for the ill health many have suffered as a result.
An estimated 1,000 servicemen - many of whom are terminally ill - could take multi-million pound group action against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Between 1952 and 1958, the men were involved in nuclear bomb testing in the south Pacific, which they say exposed them to radiation that has directly contributed to a range of illnesses, including fertility problems, cancer and skin defects.
According to the BBC, the MoD has argued that too much time has passed between the nuclear tests and the proposed compensation suit.
But as the high court has now ruled that the men can proceed with their claim, the MoD may soon be facing its largest-ever class-action suit.
"All things being equal, a veteran who believes that he has an illness, injury or disability attributable to his presence at the tests [and] whose case is supported by apparently reputable scientific and medical evidence should be entitled to his day in court," said Mr Justice Foskett.
In January, a BBC report said lawyers in the compensation case claimed the UK has lagged behind other governments - including the US - in acknowledging the medical effects of nuclear testing and making appropriate reparations.