23 May 2006

Veterans of British atomic tests in Pacific hope for compensation

5:30 pm on 23 May 2006

Lawyers are hoping research under way in New Zealand will clinch their historic case for compensation for more than 900 New Zealand, Fiji and British veterans of British atomic tests in the Pacific.

The British government denies service personnel became ill owing to exposure to radiation during the weapons tests on Malden and Christmas Island in Kiribati from 1957 to 1958.

Ben Lowings reports from London.

"The first group action compensation claim by nuclear test veterans was launched against the British ministry of defence in 2004. The City solicitors Rosenblatt are reshaping the case after legal aid was refused. The partner, Clive Hyer, hopes scientific research now under way in New Zealand will clinch the case and prove those who watched the tests became ill through exposure to radiation. Mr Hyer wants a round up of research on possible genetic damage to be finished by September. He says a judge has asked for the full case to be set out by the start of next year so the British government can be given a timetable to answer the case."