MoD accused of letting nuclear veterans ‘go to their graves’ with out justice

The Ministry of Defence has been accused of deliberately stalling moves to win compensation for survivors of Cold War radiation experiments.

Lawyers say that, while politicians fight the general election, civil service officials have deliberately delayed important legal moves, causing distress to ex-servicemen who are having to fund the legal fight themselves.

The allegation comes a fortnight after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak snubbed veterans by leaving D-day anniversary ceremonies early.

Alan Owen, founder of campaign group LABRATS, said: “These are standard tactics from the MoD – delay, deny, wait until they die. But if we had a Prime Minister with an inch of backbone we could bring this agony to an end.”

Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak

Neither Keir Starmer or Rishi Sunak have commented publicly on the veterans’ legal action against the MoD

The legal action was brought in March, based on evidence uncovered by the Mirror that thousands of blood tests were carried out on troops of all three armed forces before, during, and after they were exposed to radiation during nuclear weapons trials in the 1950s.

Veterans and next of kin have been denied access to the results, and a judge has already ruled it unlawful. The new lawsuit – a last-ditch attempt at justice for men who are now well into their 80s, and funded entirely by public donations – will compel the MoD to either produce the blood tests, or compensate people for effectively falsifying their medical records.

Mr Owen, who is one of the claimants, said: “In the past week another two veterans have gone to their graves without the justice they deserve, one of them Ken McGinley who started the fight for recognition back in 1983. Successive governments over 41 years have ignored and mistreated nuclear veterans and their families. Rishi Sunak refused to meet us 12 times, and Johnny Mercer told us we’d have to sue, before blocking us on social media.

Keir Starmer did meet us, but without a specific manifesto pledge we are left hoping for the best from whoever forms the next government. Officials who refuse to engage with our lawyers in the absence of any instruction from politicians are betraying the real reason for this long injustice – it’s not about the truth, but about who’s in Number 10 and whether they want to fix this.”

* You can donate to the nuclear veterans’ crowdfunder HERE

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Human rights law firm McCue Jury confirmed it had written three times to the MoD since serving legal papers in mid-March, but the only response so far to its 45 pages of evidence was a two-page response about “irrelevant” court judgements that did not examine the issue of blood testing.

“The MoD has made no attempt at constructive discussion, only attempting to shut down the legal proceedings through stonewalling and diversion,” said a spokesman for the firm.

“They have no enagaged at all with the key question: now that we know the medical records were taken, where are they?”

The ministry has also made no moves to accept or reject the veterans’ offer of a one year public inquiry to investigate, compensate, and commemorate the testing programme. The weapons trials led to the creation of the nuclear deterrent which has kept Britain, its troops and its allies safe for more than 70 years.

Nuclear veteran Ken McGinley

Ken McGinley, founder of the nuclear veterans’ campaign for justice, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was refused access to his medical records in 1993, on the grounds it would damage his mental health
Tom Main)

Earlier this week Labour made a fresh pledge to the nuclear veterans, after apparently snubbing them in its manifesto. A source said: “They have our backing and we’ll have their backs, if we win.”

It has also emerged that details of war pensions claimed by nuclear veterans and their widows in 1991 have been locked for an astonishing 85 years on data protection grounds. The records, which may prove whether or not anyone was refused access to blood tests, will not be available to view by researchers until 2076.

The MoD has been given three days to explain its delays to the lawsuit and respond to the offer of a tribunal, which would limit taxpayer costs and reduce the time taken to find answers for the ageing veterans.

“If they continue to obfuscate we will be left with no choice but to compel them to engage via court action,” said the spokesman.