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Prime Minister to meet nuclear vet campaigners

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 08, 2014

Archie Ross, nuclear test veteran

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CAMPAIGNERS seeking justice and recognition for servicemen left permanently scarred by British nuclear test are set to meet with the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister David Cameron has finally agreed to a meeting with Tory MP John Baron, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, in a bid to listen to calls for recognition.

Hundreds of servicemen, including ex-RAF man Archie Ross, of Oak Close, Castle Gresley, have been campaigning tirelessly for years in a bid to get the Government to recognise what happened to them when they saw Britain’s tests in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mr Baron said: “The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has pulled up the drawbridge, which is why the nuclear veterans and I are pleased that the Prime Minister is meeting us.

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“Britain compares poorly as to how other countries treat their nuclear veterans, and it is striking that one in three of veterans’ descendants suffer from some form of serious illness.”

Nigel Heaps, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veteran Association, also backed news of the meeting with the top politician.

He said: “For many years the MoD has contrived to work against the interests of our veterans and their families.

“It is a significant step that the Prime Minister is taking this in and opening the door for discussion.

“Winston Churchill recognised ‘the price we have to pay to sit at the top table’ – our veterans continue to pay that price and we have a genuine hope that Mr Cameron will do the decent thing by them.”

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.

Mr Ross said: “We are not going to let go until someone pays for what has happened.”

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