Atomic test veterans win right to sue

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by spider, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    [FONT=&quot]Atomic test veterans win right to sue[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Posted Fri Jun 5, 2009 10:36pm AEST
    Updated Fri Jun 5, 2009 11:09pm AEST [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Around 1,000 British servicemen who took part in atomic tests in the 1950s have won the right to sue the UK Government for health problems they blame on nuclear radiation.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The veterans, who are seeking to launch a multi-million-pound group compensation claim, took part in British nuclear tests in Australia and the Pacific Ocean.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Ministry of Defence, which denies negligence, had sought to throw out the veterans' action at the High Court in London, arguing that it was launched outside a legal time limit.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]But Judge David Foskett rejected the ministry's submission and gave the veterans the green light to proceed with their claim.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]"All things being equal, a veteran who believes that he has an illness, injury or disability attributable to his presence at the tests whose case is supported by apparently reputable scientific and medical evidence, should be entitled to his day in court," Judge Foskett said in a written judgment.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Douglas Hern, litigation secretary of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, said he hoped the Government would now negotiate a settlement rather than appeal the ruling.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The 73-year-old, blames the death of his 13-year-old daughter from cancer on his radiation exposure.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]He said that if the litigation continued without settlement many ex-servicemen would not live to see the eventual outcome.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Reuters[/FONT]
  2. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    [FONT=&quot]Aussie Veterans Can Sue the UK Govt.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Updated: 23:14, Saturday June 6, 2009[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Military veterans from Australia and NZ have won clearance to sue Britain's Ministry of Defence for radiation exposure during nuclear tests in the 1950s.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Justice David Foskett said in the High Court in London that the turning point in the case was cutting-edge research by New Zealand scientist Al Rowland. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The UK government is now exposed to a potential compensation bill running into hundreds of millions of dollars if the 1,000 veterans of tests in the South Pacific and Australia between 1952 and 1958 prove radiation exposure has caused illnesses, including cancer and chromosome damage, the Guardian newspaper reported. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The MoD argued that the group had waited too long to lodge its claim and was excluded under limitations regulations, but giving his verdict in the High Court in London on Friday, Justice Foskett said a recent scientific study involving veterans in New Zealand had provided new evidence of the potential health impact of the tests. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This was 'crucial and pivotal' for any potential case against the MoD, he said. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Five of the 10 individual test cases he had considered were thus permitted, while the other five should be allowed to proceed as well, on grounds of fairness. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The MoD would be allowed to appeal, the judge said, but he urged ministers to consider a settlement rather than drag out legal proceedings further. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The veterans took part in the program on the Australian mainland, Monte Bello islands and Christmas Island between 1952 and 1958 and have claimed that is the reason they suffer cancer, skin defects and fertility problems. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Many of them are terminally ill and seven have died since the hearing at London's High Court in January. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association chairman Roy Sefton was among more than 500 Kiwi servicemen exposed to a series of nuclear tests in the South Pacific in 1957 and 1958 code-named Operation Grapple. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Although the association was independent of the claimants, who include 'a bit under 100' New Zealanders, Sefton said it had played a notable role in getting the case to court. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]'About five years ago we were involved in setting up with people in Britain to try to get some lawyers and start the case,' he said. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]'The details have changed since then, but we have continued to provide help in any way possible.' [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]In 2001, the association commissioned a Massey University study of genetic damage in the veterans who were at the nuclear tests, and the results, released in 2007, have since become a crucial piece of evidence for the claimants. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The study, led by Rowland, a Massey molecular scientist, compared the frequency of chromosome translocations in a group of 50 nuclear-test veterans with a control group of 50 men of similar ages and lifestyles. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Chromosome translocations, which could cause illnesses such as blood cancers and cataracts, occurred when a chromosome 'broke' and the unique genetic material within was mixed with other chromosomes, Rowland said. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]While the control group had an expected frequency of 10 translocations per 10,000 cells, the frequency among veterans was nearly three times higher at 29 translocations per 10,000 cells. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Rowland was 'absolutely certain' the increased genetic damage and associated illnesses in the veterans was due to their exposure to the nuclear tests as the scientists had accounted for any other potential factors in the control group. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The Australian federal government has stalled for years on whether to pay compensation, citing it was awaiting for a ruling to be made by the British High Court since the tests were done by the British government. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]'This is a brilliant day,' one veteran said outside the London court as he embraced a colleague. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]In earlier hearings, the court heard the British government and military administration actively withheld details of the dangers of atomic testing in the Pacific not only from the 25,000 servicemen who took part but also the Australian Government of the day. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The British atomic testers ordered military aircraft and ships to pass close to the mushroom clouds, while on land, soldiers stood close to the drop zone with little more than their uniforms. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tests on their bodies later showed they had been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation but the effects were not known or understood.[/FONT]
    - SKY News Australia
  3. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    The Ministry of Defence, which denies negligence, had sought to throw out the veterans' action at the High Court in London, arguing that it was launched outside a legal time limit.

    Strangely enough - I didn't think we HAD a Statute of Limitiations in the UK...
  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  5. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Interesting - we don't have a US-style one such as described there, but we DO have this- Limitation Act 1980 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    ...which comes at CERTAIN areas of law from a slightly diferent direction. And it's 1980, which makes it later than when I did anything on this in school.

    The Testing Veterans some to come under Tort and personal injury
    ...which would normally have a three-year limit...BUT there's this note...

    ^ From the date of accurual of the cause of action or knowledge, whichever is later: Limitation Act 1980, s. 11(4). The date of knowledge is where the claimant had knowledge and could reasonable have ascertained (with or without the help of expert advice) such facts so as to have knowledge: (s. 14)
    • that the injury in question was significant; and
    • that the injury was attributable in whole or in part to the act or omission which is alleged to constitute negligence, nuisance or breach of duty; and
    • the identity of the defendant; and
    • if it is alleged that the act or omission was that of a person other than the defendant, the identity of that person and the additional facts supporting the bringing of an action against the defendant.
    The court may allow an action to proceed despite the expiry of the time limit (
    s. 33) if it would be equitable to do so, taking into account particularly:
    • potential prejudice to the claimant and defendant;
    • length of delay and reasons for delay;
    • extent to which the evidence is likely to be less cogent;
    • conduct of the defendant in responding to requests for information, etc.;
    • extent to which the claimant acted promptly; and
    • expert advice received by the claimant.

    ...and they come under SEVERAL of those exceptions ;)
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I bet you had some fun with that Tom.

    I well remember having to search have of Yorkshire for some chap that drove whilst disco. By the time I ticked all the boxes to get him on PNC, West Yorks picked him up for a job and mine was over six months old so he got off with it-months of chasing him around for nothing.

  7. Passchendaele_Baby

    Passchendaele_Baby Grandads Little Girl

    Zeelanders can too, I seen it on the news last night. Good for them!
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I was always under the impression that the armed forces were 'crown except' from being sued back them.

    Watch this.....A British goverment LSD experiment on Royal Marines.

    YouTube - LSD Testing On WW2 British Troops

    The troops are definately post war not WW2 looking at their kit and weapons 50/60's I'd say.

    There's another one of Australian troops that have Blister agent put on them and then they are told to go over a obstacle course.

    And then there's the island in Scotland that is contaminated with Anthrax

    I used to use them in NBC lessons.

  9. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  11. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    There was also a large number of WW2 vintage US Mustard Gas artillery shells located in the Russell Islands in the Solomon Islands about 10 years ago.

    The US sent a team in to remove them.

  12. Franek

    Franek WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    At the peak of WW2, there were 16,000,000 American Military personnel in uniform. As of this month, there are but 2,000,000 of us left and we are dying at the rate of 1200 a day. RIP
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    At the peak of WW2, there were 16,000,000 American Military personnel in uniform. As of this month, there are but 2,000,000 of us left and we are dying at the rate of 1200 a day. RIP

    Thanks for posting....That really does provide food for thought :unsure:

    Anyone know the British equivalent?

    Did the US really have 16 million in uniform....Thats quite impressive !

  14. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    I recall seeing news of sick and disabled servicemen , sick and disabled beacuse of these tests back in 1982 - that the goverments in power since then have not yet resolved the issue and that it is till running reflects badly on all who have held office between then and now.
    All the Prime Ministers lay wreaths on Remembrance Sunday , they seem to have a problem in remembering these poor men , you have to ask why ?

    I have never been happy with this rather poor record that it still an unresolved issue is a national disgrace.
  15. cash_13

    cash_13 Senior Member

    My stepfather who was in the Navy on HMS Warpsite said he had visited Christmas Island where they done some of the testing.....I never really understood until later on in life......

    I took my mother up to sign some paperwork to release his body to the funeral directors and they told her she had to sign these forms I being nosey asked them what they were to which the guy said its just a standard release form....I asked why so many and started to leaf through them to which the guy got really agitated and asked me what I was doing as it was my mother who had to sign them......I told him she was not signing anything till I read what they of them was from the government saying she could not make a claim if it was found he had anything wrong with him related to service in the Navy...........I told mum not to sign until I spoke to someone the bloke then callously said in that case you cant have the body all matter of fact like it was a delivery or which point my mum just burst into tears, and said I want my Cyril laid to rest I dont care about the government......

    If my mum had not been there he would have got a clump treating her like that....

    I made an official complaint but he resigned before something was done because of something else that happened....

    James S likes this.
  16. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Vets lifted by call on atomic tests

    Mark Dodd and Pia Akerman | June 08, 2009

    Article from: The Australian
    HUNDREDS of Australian veterans exposed to atomic tests at Maralinga and the Monte Bello Islands in the 1950s have secured a second avenue of appeal for compensation after last week's landmark ruling in Britain.
    Buoyed by the decision on Friday allowing test veterans the right to sue for damages, former servicemen have given Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin until the end of the month to declare whether Canberra will award compensation and benefits, before lodging a class action.
    A ruling last week by Britain's High Court means more than 1000 British veterans claiming ill-health following atomic tests in Australia and the South Pacific can pursue a class action worth millions of pounds against the Ministry of Defence.
    That right was also expected to be extended to hundreds of Australian atomic test veterans, RSL national president Bill Crews said yesterday.
    "If there's an opportunity there for them to make representations to the British government, they will do so," Major General Crews said.
    "We have to bear in mind there are a number of concurrent activities in Australia to support their claims.
    "We in the RSL have said this should be declared hazardous service, which would give them the opportunity for better access to veteran entitlements."
    Ric Johnstone, national president of the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association, said the class action was "virtually ready to go", but had been put on hold for the past two years after Mr Griffin said he would revisit the Clarke review's recommendations on veterans' entitlements if elected.
    "They are stalling for time, waiting for more of us to drop off," Mr Johnstone said. "We would rather that the government said they are going to take care of the widows and the offspring, because we don't have far to go now."
    A New Zealand study has established links between the British nuclear tests and subsequent health problems of those exposed.
    Mr Johnstone - who decontaminated vehicles that had been used at Maralinga while working as an RAAF motor mechanic, and has developed cancer and heart problems - said he hoped court action would not be necessary, but was not optimistic.
    Fellow Maralinga test veteran Avon Hudson, 71, said he believed a court case would be "fraught with peril" and Mr Griffin needed to act quickly to avoid it.
    As a result of one of the British tests, in October 1952 off the Monte Bellos in northwestern Australia, a 98-kiloton device, one of the largest ever detonated, spread radioactive contamination as far as Mount Isa and Rockhampton.
    South Australian Premier Mike Rann yesterday declared "prime responsibility" lay with the British government to look after Australians affected by the nuclear tests.
    "I think the British authorities over the decades have misled Australians about the nature and extent of what happened there," he said.
    "The British government has an absolute responsibility to do the right thing by its and our service personnel, and, of course, our Aboriginal people."
    The British decision left open another avenue for Australia's atomic veterans to seek some form of closure, the RSL chief said.
    Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact Mr Griffin yesterday.

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