24 Nov 2010

British court rejects damage claim over nuclear weapons tests

2:34 pm on 24 November 2010

Veterans who took part in Britain's nuclear weapons tests cannot sue Britain's Defence Ministry after a court ruled that they didn't have enough evidence to prove their illnesses resulted from exposure to radiation.

Ten former British servicemen sought damages from the ministry, arguing that a low but significant dose of radiation during nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific in the 1950s resulted in illnesses including cancer, skin defects and arthritis.

More than a thousand veterans, including some from New Zealand and Fiji, were involved in the tests

The Court of Appeal in London said nine out of the 10 test cases cannot continue in court because the veterans launched the cases after the legal time limit expired.

The one allowed to proceed to trial concerns a veteran who died three years ago.

A lawyer representing the veterans says there may be an appeal in the nine rejected cases.