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Nuclear damage appeal: MoD 'wins'

The Ministry of Defence has won the bulk of its appeal against a court ruling which allowed Britain's atomic test veterans to claim damages.

In June 2009, High Court judge Mr Justice Foskett ruled that 10 test cases out of 1,011 claims could proceed to full trial.

The servicemen blame their ill-health, including cancer, skin defects and fertility problems, on involvement in Britain's nuclear tests on the Australian mainland, Monte Bello islands and Christmas Island between 1952 and 1958.

The MoD, while acknowledging its "debt of gratitude", denies negligence and fought the cases on the preliminary point that they were all launched outside the legal time limit.

Lady Justice Smith, Lord Justice Leveson and Sir Mark Waller ruled that nine out of the 10 cases were statute-barred, while the tenth, that of the late Bert Sinfield, was entitled to proceed to trial.

The judges said that they had declined to exercise their discretion in the veterans' favour because they had no evidence by which they could hope to prove that their illnesses had probably been caused by radiation exposure.

It is likely that the veterans will attempt to take their case on to the Supreme Court.

Solicitor Neil Sampson, for the veterans, said after the ruling: "The court has decided that one lead claimant can proceed to trial but nine cannot.

"We are digesting the full judgment and anticipate making an application to the Supreme Court to overturn today's decision. This is so that the nine claimants who the court has said are time barred can proceed together with any others in the claimant group who may fall within the same categories as those the court has barred."

He added: "There are 1,002 veterans who can proceed to trial in any event."


From Belfast Telegraph