25 Nov 2010

Court rejects claim over nuclear weapon tests

9:48 am on 25 November 2010

Veterans who took part in nuclear weapons tests conducted by Britain cannot sue the Ministry of Defence after a British court ruled that they did not 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 1000 veterans, including some from New Zealand and Fiji, were involved in the tests.

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

The one case 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.