Human rights case plea by South Shields nuclear test veteran

HEARING PLEA ... atom bomb veteran John Taylor.
HEARING PLEA ... atom bomb veteran John Taylor.

A BATTLING nuclear test veteran from South Tyneside has demanded his day in court – rather than accepting money from a £25m fund.

John Taylor is one of the 1,000 British ex-servicemen fighting for justice, after being exposed to radiation during nuclear test explosions in the 1950s.

Despite the idea of a £25m benevolent fund being backed by some atom bomb vets, Mr Taylor would still like the case heard in the European Court of Human Rights.

He said: “We are still waiting for a court date and there could be a backlog of cases, but I would still hold out for the case being heard in a court of law.

“The British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association have raised the possibility of a £25m pot of money, with vets applying for money.

“But I couldn’t care less about the money – it’s the principle of the thing and I would like my day in court.”

Wearing little or no protective clothing, Mr Taylor, 76, of Carnegie Close, South Shields, witnessed three nuclear explosions between July and September 1957, during what was codenamed Operation Antler.

Mr Taylor, who was at the time serving as a leading aircraftman with the RAF in Maralinga, Australia, believes the tests triggered health problems, which have been passed on to his family.

Although South Tyneside Council has previously backed a motion, pressing Prime Minister David Cameron to establish the £25m benevolent fund, Mr Taylor believes veterans should have their cases heard before the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr Taylor added: “I don’t know if the whole matter has been delayed while the issue of the fund is looked into, but I would still prefer to have the case heard in court.

“There may be some veterans who don’t want to apply, in case the money is being means-tested.”

Nuclear veterans in the US have received compensation of up to £47,000, while those in Canada have been given £15,000 payments.

Lesser compensation is even paid to veterans on the Isle of Man, but the Ministry of Defence has so far successfully challenged British atom bomb veterans.

Twitter @terrykelly16