24 Dec 2009

Pacific nuclear veterans want compensation

8:27 pm on 24 December 2009

The lawyer for New Zealand veterans exposed to British nuclear tests in the Pacific says Britain should follow France's lead and offer compensation.

The French parliament has approved a law confirming the right to compensation for some illnesses caused by radiation from tests carried out in French Polynesia and Algeria between 1960 and 1996.

The lawyer for the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Gordon Paine, represents about 100 New Zealanders taking part in the multi-million dollar class action against the British government.

He says the French offer is heartening.

"It's a huge breakthrough and it's very humanitarian too. It's good to see a government recognise the wrongs it has done in the past and attempt to try and redress them."

Mr Paine says the New Zealand Government could do a lot more for its veterans.

He says the Defence Ministry is still refusing mediation.