A CAMPAIGNER has claimed South Shields MP David Miliband “did not do enough” to support atomic bomb test veterans’ legal battle for compensation.
John Taylor, of South Shields, is one of more than 1,000 ex-servicemen across the country who claim they have suffered from a range of illnesses after being exposed to radiation during nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s.
The men lost their legal battle with the Ministry of Defence this week, after judges at London’s Supreme Court rejected their appeal for damages.
Mr Taylor, 74, of Carnegie Close, Whiteleas, said he met the Labour MP more than a year ago to discuss the veterans’ campaign.
He said: “I received a standard letter afterwards, saying he was looking into the issue. He followed it up, and spoke to Liam Fox, who was Defence Secretary at the time, and I also received a standard letter from him. But David Miliband has never once given us the support that we wanted.
“He never went to the newspapers or the television to raise awareness of our situation or to put forward our case.”
The grandad-of-six was a leading aircraftman with the RAF in Maralinga, Australia, when he witnessed a nuclear test in 1957. He added: “When you have an MP in South Shields who was a strong member of the cabinet, his support could have been vital.
“I am not saying he didn’t support us at all, I just feel he did not do enough, and that it would have helped if he had voiced his support in the media.”
Mr Miliband said: “I know how disappointed Mr Taylor will be with the decision of the courts.
“After meeting him to hear his concerns, I promised to raise it with the Secretary of State for Sefence.
“I took Mr Taylor’s concerns to the highest level within the Ministry of Defence to the then defence secretary, Liam Fox, and provided my constituent with a reply from the Ministry of Defence.”
The veterans’ legal representatives took their case to the Supreme Court – the highest court in the UK – after previously losing battles at the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
While the MoD acknowledges a “debt of gratitude” to the nuclear veterans, it denies negligence.
Veterans Bede McGurk, from Jarrow, and Hebburn man Bob Redman, are among those seeking justice.