Bloody Truth: The Nuclear Test Veterans’ Search for Justice

by The nuclear veteran community

Bloody Truth: The Nuclear Test Veterans’ Search for Justice

by The nuclear veteran community
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The nuclear veteran community
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I'm Susie Boniface, a freelance journalist who has been covering the nuclear veterans campaign since 2002. This page has been set up to fundraise on their behalf.
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Imagine waking up every morning wondering if your government has intentionally exposed you to lethal radiation, and is lying to you about it.

That living nightmare is the daily reality for thousands of nuclear testing veterans and their families - 70 years.

Now, they have one last chance to sue the Government for the toxic legacy of trauma and illness they have been left to endure.

Between 1952 and 1967, more than 20,000 British servicemen took part in hundreds of Cold War weapons tests in Australia and the South Pacific. They would have been jailed for refusing. 

Their efforts delivered the nuclear deterrent which has kept this country and her allies safe ever since. Today, only 2,000 or so - most in their 80s, and with chronic health problems - still survive.

Studies show they have higher rates of death and cancer than other veterans, while their wives report 3x the normal rate of miscarriages and their children display 10x the usual amount of birth defects. 

As well as the surviving veterans, there are an estimated 155,000 living descendants, many of which suffer from their own trauma because of the anxiety caused by every pregnancy, every illness, and their ever-present fear of early death.

The UK government is the only nuclear power on Earth to continue to deny its nuclear weapons testing ever harmed anyone.

What are we doing?

We have uncovered documentary evidence that atomic scientists took blood tests from the servicemen as part of a monitoring programme. The results were classified as 'scientific data', which has been used as an excuse to keep them from survivors and families even today. Modern-day defence ministers have refused to publish the advice they've received about these vital records.

Based on this new evidence, the veterans and their families are launching a landmark legal action to end seven decades of trauma caused by the Government's secrecy and cover-ups. They need your help to finally get access to their full medical records, and the answers they have always sought.

In the first phase, we are raising money to seek disclosure of the records so that we can get to the truth of the matter and end the appalling uncertainty these veterans and their families have been forced to live with for so many years.

Why should you care?

This is the longest-running scandal in British history. In it, you can find the roots of official attitude to other injustices, like Orgreave, Hillsborough, Grenfell. If the state can treat its own heroes with such disdain, then it will do it to any one of us. And if the state can be forced to admit what went wrong, its other ills can be fixed, too.

These men have kept us all safe for decades. Now we must stand up for them.

What can you do?

Our first step is to make a pre-action application for an order of the court for disclosure from the Government of the blood records we now know exist. The Government will likely resist this, which will mean the application will have to go to a full hearing to be decided on by a judge. Given the history and complexity of the matter this will, in itself, be akin to a mini-trial. 

We are looking to raise £50,000 to £100,000 to pay for this initial phase, in the expectation a professional litigation funder will come on board once the records are disclosed to cover the cost of what will probably be a long fight. The veterans do not have this money, which is why we need your help.

Before you go...

More than a decade ago, the Ministry of Defence defeated the last legal attempt to prove radiation caused these men's injuries, by arguing they had brought the action too late. Now we know that the Government concealed evidence, we can compel them to produce it. With this comes a new chance for justice, and a final opportunity to tell these men they can stand at ease, and in honour.

Please dig as deep as you can to help these families in their last and biggest battle for the truth. Thank you for hearing them.

About the claimant

I'm Susie Boniface, a freelance journalist who has been covering the nuclear veterans campaign since 2002. This page has been set up to fundraise on their behalf.

Update 1

The nuclear veteran community

Dec. 19, 2023

We are about to launch our legal action!

Dear Supporter, 

Thank you for your generous help with the Nuclear Test Veterans’ search for justice.  

As you know, we are fighting for straight answers from the Ministry of Defence about the whereabouts of veteran medical records. Without them, they and their families will never truly know what level of radiation they were exposed to during the Cold War weapons programme which has kept us all safe for seven decades. Nor will they ever be able to get accurate diagnoses and medical treatment, or peace of mind about what really happened to them.

We'd like to update you on the legal work we've been able to do, thanks to your donation. 

The first phase of the legal action is underway.  In the two and a half months since the launch of this campaign, we have laid the groundwork for formal proceedings to force the MoD to release or confirm the whereabouts of medical records. We cannot provide full details of the legal strategy due to its sensitive nature, but we can say that our legal team at McCue Jury & Partners have:

  • Collected and reviewed evidence and witness testimony, to provide a compelling narrative of the medical testing conducted on tri-service personnel over more than a decade during the nuclear trials programme
  • Developed a plan based on that evidence
  • Instructed a King’s Counsel, who has provided a formal legal opinion on the viability of the novel strategy that we have developed
  • Begun a global database of nuclear test veterans and their families
  • Engaged with key politicians and stakeholders to collaborate with them to address the medical records, and advocate for the nuclear community

The ongoing lobbying and the building threat of legal action is increasing the pressure on the MoD.  Most recently, you may have seen its commitment for a review by ministers and officials of 150 documents about blood testing of troops uncovered by the Daily Mirror. The Atomic Weapons Establishment has confirmed it holds these files, which it had previously denied existed. Some of these appear to have been withheld from the public under national security exemptions, and our investigation into how and why this happened to personal health data continues. 

We are now ready to take the next step, and formally demand release of medical records or, should they no longer exist, answers about what happened to them. Depending on how the MoD responds, we may need to ask a court to order it comply with our request.

We could not do this without you, and we thank you very much for your generous support so far. We have received large donations, from Ecotricity founder Dale Vince and the Mirror's parent company Reach plc, but wider support is invaluable to continue our fight for the truth. Without your help these next steps would be impossible, and the truth forever out of reach.

If you are also willing and able to copy and paste the below text to just 10 of your friends and family, share our crowdfunding link on social media, or ask for donations as a Christmas gift, it could have a huge impact on public awareness and support for our fight. We need the Bloody Truth, and we won't stop until we have it.


We send you our thanks for all you've done so far, and our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.


The Nuclear Veteran Community



Suggested text:

Between 1952 and 1967, more than 20,000 British servicemen took part in hundreds of Cold War weapons tests in Australia and the South Pacific.  They would have been jailed for refusing.  Their efforts delivered the nuclear deterrent which has kept this country and her allies safe ever since. Today, only 2,000 or so - most in their 80s, and with chronic health problems - still survive.

But their medical records - detailing blood and urine tests taken during the trials, to assess what impact if any it was having on their bodies - are mysteriously missing. Without them, thousands of troops have suffered decades of fear and worry. Their 155,000 descendants, who report high rates of birth defects, are also traumatised.

The UK government is the only nuclear power on Earth to continue to deny its nuclear weapons testing ever harmed anyone, and has persistently denied such blood tests ever took place.

Last year we found the proof that they did. We've found the orders, and proved this personal health data, vital for accurate diagnosis and treatment, is hidden under national security exemptions.

The Nuclear Veterans are demanding these missing medical records and could really use your help to crowdfund their case. I’ve already donated and they’ve raised over £53,000, but are trying to reach £100,000 by 1 January 2024.

You can donate on the crowdfunding campaign page by clicking here https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/nuclear-veterans-case/. Please share on Facebook and Twitter, to generate even more donations and awareness of this excellent cause.

Thank you for your support.

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