AN MP has urged nuclear test veterans and their families to contact him as he vowed to fight for justice.
Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are backing the #LookMeInTheEye campaign by the nuclear test veterans and their families.
The veterans are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “look them in the eye” and explain why they were refused a medal last year on the grounds they did not meet the “level of risk and rigour” required for a medal or clasp.
Labour’s manifesto at the 2019 general election included a commitment to awarding surviving nuclear test veterans at least £50,000 each in compensation.
Mr Healey (pictured above), who is Labour’s shadow defence secretary, recently met some of the veterans and their families, along with the Labour leader.
“Their campaign is our campaign - we want the Government to recognise the debt our country owes them,” said Mr Healey.
“Our job now is to get the government to listen, get Boris Johnson to sit down with veterans and their descendants, look them in the eye, listen to their experience, and make his own judgement as we have about the recognition we think is long overdue.
“I’ve set a deadline of the first test’s 70th anniversary - October 2022 - for us to work to, and I hope by then the prime minister will do the right thing and give them a medal.”
Around 20,000 UK forces personnel were posted at nuclear test sites in Australia and the South Pacific, from the 1950s.
From the early 1980s, the veterans began to report rare cancers, sterility, their wives having miscarriages and birth defects in their children - there are 155,000 descendants.
Forces personnel maintained the test sites, took samples, ran laboratories, did decontamination work and transported and disposed of radioactive material.
They slept in camps as close as five miles from the blast zones and often only wore shorts and boots.
The UK remains the only nuclear power that refuses them recognition or compensation, unlike the US, France, Canada and Australia.
Mr Healey added: “I know that forces veterans can be reluctant to speak up about their experiences, but I’d like to appeal to them to contact me directly.”
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