THE Prime Minister has vowed to take a closer look at the plight of nuclear test veterans following a breakthrough meeting with campaigners.
David Cameron revealed that he would ask ‘further questions’ within Government to see what more can be done to help hundreds of servicemen, including ex-RAF man Archie Ross, of Oak Close, Castle Gresley, in a meeting with MP John Barton.
The parliamentarian, who has long been at the forefront of efforts to help thousands left afflicted due to atomic tests in the 1950s and 60s, revealed that he now hope political chiefs will ‘recognise past wrongs’ and honour a debt of gratitude to countless veterans.
He said: “It was a constructive meeting.
“I talked the Prime Minister through our recognition campaign, and he is now going to ask further questions within Government. He will then get back to me.
“Our nuclear test veterans are a special case.
“One in three of their descendents suffers from serious illness – figures supported by studies in other countries, including France. Their unique service, at a time when the science was unknown and the precautions rudimentary, made possible our independent nuclear deterrent. However, we compare poorly as to how other countries treat their veterans.”
“The country owes a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans. The Government has done well to recognise past wrongs. Our hope is that it will do so again here.”
In 2006, 1,000 veterans attempted to sue the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Nine of these took their case to the Supreme Court last year but lost their bid for damages.
The MoD argued that too much time had passed since the tests for the case to be allowed to go to court.
A succession of Governments, both Tory and Labour, have denied there was anything wrong with the procedures.
The MoD has always acknowledged a ‘debt of gratitude’ to the veterans, but has denied negligence.
More than 22,000 men were ordered to witness the detonation of nuclear bombs between 1952 and 1967.