British Ruling Hits Diggers’ Bid For Bomb Test Damages
Article courtesy of The Age – DAN OAKES
24 November 2010
Australian veterans’ hopes of compensation for exposure to nuclear testing in the 1950s hang by a thread after a British court decision.
The Court of Appeal ruled that British veterans who participated in Cold War nuclear weapons tests in Australia and the South Pacific cannot sue Britain’s Defence Ministry because they could not prove their illnesses came from exposure to radiation. The veterans have claimed the exposure caused cancer, birth defects and other disorders such as anaemia.
About 200 Australian veterans, widows and children of veterans had planned their own class action against the British government. Aborigines affected were also closely watching the verdict.
The British veterans are deciding whether to appeal, while the Australians are now considering an action against the Australian government.
But Tom Goudkamp, an Australian lawyer representing the veterans, said: ”Proving the ailments were caused by radiation 50 years ago is going to be extremely difficult, because they smoke, they’ve been exposed to the sun, exposed to other toxins. People in their 70s and 80s often have cancer anyway, so it’s extraordinarily difficult.”
Australian Nuclear Veterans Association president Ric Johnstone said Britain was stonewalling, but that the Australians would continue to support their British comrades morally and financially.