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'Nuclear' veterans lose latest bid for damages

By Brian Farmer

British ex-servicemen who say they became ill as a result of being exposed to radiation during 1950s nuclear weapon tests in the Pacific have lost the latest round of a legal battle for damages.

But lawyers and relatives said the fight would go on and urged ministers to set up a compensation scheme.

More than 1,000 veterans want compensation and have been battling for permission to launch damages claims for more than two years. The Ministry of Defence is contesting veterans' complaints and denies negligence.

Veterans say they were exposed to fallout radiation from tests and say exposure caused illness, disability or death. The MoD denies both “exposure” and “causation”.

The Supreme Court, the UK's highest court, yesterday ruled in the MoD's favour after the latest round of litigation and said the majority of claims could not proceed. A panel of seven Supreme Court justices had analysed evidence at a hearing in London in November and ruled against veterans by a 4-3 majority.

Judges expressed sympathy but concluded that veterans lacked evidence to prove links between illness and proximity to tests.

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