Renewed hope for atomic test veteran

Michael Dilworth, nuclear test veteran
Michael Dilworth, nuclear test veteran

A BUXTON veteran’s fight for compensation from the government after he was involved in nuclear tests will go to the European Court of Human Rights.

Michael Dilworth was one of hundreds of servicemen exposed to radiation during atomic weapons testing on Christmas Island in the late 1950s.

Just aged 17 at the time, Michael, and the crew on board the HMS Warrior had no idea what lay ahead when they left Portsmouth for the Pacific Ocean in February 1957. It wasn’t until they passed through the Panama Canal that they were told they were heading to Christmas Island to carry out hydrogen bomb tests.

Left completely unprotected from the blast, the young servicemen were told to turn their backs to the detonation and shield their eyes with their hands.

Later, they were sent to collect samples so the armed forces could see what effect the hydrogen bombs had, leading to even more exposure to the radiation.

The tests have left Michael with a catalogue of health problems. He has been in and out of hospital for years, suffering from a number of complaints including problems with his knees and stomach.

But many of the veterans have suffered horrific deaths from radiation-related illnesses, lawyers claim, while others have suffered cancer and skin deformities.

Yet the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have refused to compensate them and the legal battle rages on.

In March, the Supreme Court ruled that nine test cases could not proceed to trial because they were out of time so the veterans’ solicitors Rosenblatt’s are now preparing to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

Michael, of Nunsfield Road, said: “It’s just so frustrating but we’ll keep fighting. All we want is for them (the MoD) to admit they’ve done wrong.

“We are the only country who don’t recognise our veterans in the way other countries do. In America and other places it’s different again.”