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Norfolk nuclear veterans given new hope in compensation battle

David Freeman next to the war memorial on the River Green at Thorpe St Andrew

David Freeman next to the war memorial on the River Green at Thorpe St Andrew

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

A Thorpe St Andrew nuclear test veteran has been given new hope in his battle for compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

David Freeman was one of about 23,000 servicemen to take part in the tests on Christmas Island in the South Pacific in the 1950s and 1960s.

He and about 1,000 other veterans are convinced the tests ruined their health and that of their families, but late last year judges ruled that a large majority of cases for compensation could not proceed because they were launched outside the legal time limit.

They also said they had no evidence to show the tests were to blame.

Veterans are now awaiting the result of the Supreme Court hearing later this month and Mr Freeman believes their chances have been improved after veterans’ minister Andrew Robathan admitted he misled Parliament over the appalling illnesses suffered by British nuclear test survivors.

Mr Robathan apologised after wrongly claiming the courts backed the government’s battle against 1,000 people seeking compensation, while, in fact, the courts ordered the MoD to a trial to scrutinise new evidence proving their DNA was irretrievably damaged by the test blasts.

The MoD admitted he was wrong and apologised “for any confusion caused”.

Mr Freeman, 72, said: “After Mr Robathan made yet another U-turn we are more optimistic about getting the compensation, but they are still messing us about. This has been going on for about 50 years.

“Before the general election Mr Robathan was all in favour of us getting compensation, and then when he was elected he changed his mind.

“He’s getting paid about £31,000 extra for also being veteran’s minister, and now he’s now done another U-turn.”

In May last year, the father-of-three and grandfather-of-eight from Birkbeck Way, who was diagnosed as suffering from cancer last year, underwent an operation and had the all clear following his first six-month check up.


Have you had a long-running battle for compensation? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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