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Vets compensation moves to next stage

14/11/11: Veterans who were involved in testing Britain’s nuclear weapons in the 1950’s are starting the latest phase of their compensation battle.

Over 1,000 ex-servicemen are claiming that exposure to radiation has resulted in illnesses such as cancer.
Veterans who are arguing that they have a right to damages from the Ministry of Defence; their cases are now to be heard at the Supreme Court in London.

The MoD denies negligence but has acknowledged a “debt of gratitude” to the veterans.

Counsel for the veterans, James Dingemans, told justices at the Supreme Court that the stance adopted by the MoD was hopeless.

The men who were all involved in the nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean and on Christmas Island in the 1950’s – have been trying to launch their claims for damages for over two years.

Outlining their legal position, Mr Dingemans advised the panel that the MoD has continued to deny, with very few exceptions, that the veterans were exposed to radiation.

He went on to say that there hadn’t been any identification of the risk and that medical knowledge has subsequently developed which has allowed experts to link further cases.

The original group of ten claimants were advised that their claims could proceed in 2009.

The MoD subsequently appealed, and as a result the Court of Appeal blocked 9 of those claims, stating that they had been submitted too late.

The panel declined to exercise discretion, stating that the veterans did not have sufficient evidence relating to the cause of their illnesses.

Permission for the appeals to be heard by the Supreme Court was granted following a further hearing in July.
Legal teams are currently attempting to persuade the justices of the Supreme Court to allow each of the 10 original claims to proceed.