A BUXTON veteran is a step closer to getting compensation for being exposed to radiation during nuclear tests in the 1950s following a court ruling last week.
Michael Dilworth, of Nunsfield Road, is one of more than 1,000 ex-serviceman who have been fighting for compensation from the Ministry of Defence for several years.
Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to the veterans’ application to appeal against a decision made by the Court of Appeal last year that nine out of ten test cases were out of time. If the veterans are successful, a hearing for damages will take place and the MoD could face a potential payout of hundreds of millions of pounds.
Mick, 73, said: “Before the case, I didn’t hold out much hope. When the judges came back and said we were granted the appeal I was over the moon.
“When this all started we didn’t want compensation. All we wanted was an apology and for them (the MoD) to admit that sending men within eight miles of a hydrogen bomb explosion was wrong.
“But it’s gone on so long now. It’s the principle of it that matters. It’s about justice.”
Mr Dilworth, known as Mick, was just a teenager when he was sent to Christmas Island while in the Royal Navy and he and his colleagues weren’t told of their mission until after they had set sail.
The young sailors were given no equipment to protect them from the dangers that lay ahead: they were told simply to turn their backs to the detonation and shield their eyes with their hands.
They were also sent to collect samples so the armed forces could see what effect the hydrogen bombs had, leading to even more exposure to the radiation.
Many suffered horrific deaths from radiation-related illness, claim lawyers, while ohers have long-running and extensive health problems, such as cancer and skin deformities.
Mick, unlike many of his colleagues, has been relatively lucky, although he’s suffered a catalogue of health issues including problems with his knees and stomach.
But lawyers claim that around three complainants are dying every month, many with rare forms of cancer.
Servicemen from Australia and New Zealand were also exposed to the radiation, but their governments have long since paid them compensation.
UK veterans have been represented throughout by Rosenblatt Solicitors, whose Neil Sampson said: “We are still the only country involved in atomic tests yet to provide compensation and benefits to our veterans and widows.
“Britain is at odds with the USA, France, China, Russia, and Canada.
“This is not just about compensation. The veterans want to know what really happened to them and want some recognition of their personal sacrifice for the security of this country.”