Christmas Island ruling


Mr Justice Charles allowed the appeal paving the way for the veterans to claim pension rights resulting from the impact of British atomic tests carried out in the 1950s and early 1960s. The successful appeal means that hundreds of veterans who served during the British nuclear test programme on Christmas Island, in the South Pacific, may finally be awarded war pensions as a result of their injury from radiation exposure. The UK is the only jurisdiction that refuses to offer automatic compensation to veterans who served in the nuclear test programme.

The Upper Tribunal heard that veterans were not given protective clothing, there was no supervision of their activities on the island and there was a lack of monitoring equipment and, where it did exist, it was crude and inadequate. They were allowed to play cricket at ground zero and swim in the irradiated lagoons, eat the fish and roam freely around the island.

Anthony Metzer QC said: “this is an important decision and will be welcomed by many veterans. We hope the government will re-think its policy towards those whose health was put at risk during the atomic tests.”

Related barristers: Anthony Metzer QC

Related practice areas: Inquests, Civil