Veterans lose battle over nuclear tests

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A nuclear test veteran today told of his frustration after hundreds lost a Supreme Court bid to be able to launch damages claims against the Ministry of Defence.

More than 1,000 veterans, including Kieran Boomer of Northgate Drive in Chorley, want compensation and have been battling for permission to launch damages claims for some two years.

Although yesterday’s judgment blocks most claims, a certain number can still proceed because of an earlier legal ruling.

But Mr Boomer said: “They are just waiting for us to die and shut up.”

At the age of 20, Mr Boomer was one of hundreds of men sent to Christmas Island, which became a test site for nuclear weapons from 1956 to 1958.

When Mr Boomer returned home in 1957, the enamel started falling off his teeth and he had to have them all removed. By the 1960s, he had developed cancer and ulcers, and had to have the index finger on his right hand amputated to stop the spread.

He has suffered ill-health throughout his life, and has lung disease and breathing difficulties.

In 2009, veterans won the first round of their battle when a High Court judge said claims could go ahead.

The MoD appealed and, in 2010, the Court of Appeal blocked nine “lead” cases but said a 10th lead claim could go ahead.

The Supreme Court said appeal judges were right to block the group of nine but the 10th can still proceed.

Mr Boomer said: “There is no such thing as being ‘out of time’ when it comes to radiation so for them to have the nerve to tell us this is terrible.

“Money does not matter to me as I am 77 so it will not help me now. What I want is for them to admit responsibility.”