Following a request at Prime Minister’s Questions from Rebecca Long-Bailey MP to meet with her, a constituent, and their grandfather, they, along with a group of British nuclear test veterans and their families met Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tell him of their lifelong fight for justice.
They asked him for a medal to mark the ‘Plutonium Jubilee’, marking 70 years since the first British nuclear test in October 1952, and to bring an end to the longest-running scandal in this nation’s history.
They also provided him with evidence of missing medical records from their time at the tests – a possible crime by the state against its own servicemen.
Those attending included veteran John Morris, who fought for 60 years to see his baby son’s autopsy report; Alan Owen and his sister Laura, whose father witnessed the equivalent of 2,000 Hiroshimas which left the family with hereditary heart disease; and Steve Purse, whose father served at the highly-radioactive ‘minor trials’, and who was born with undiagnosable conditions.
This is the first time that any Prime Minister has met with these families to hear their stories about the testing programme, and the decades of ill health which followed it.
The PM told campaigners: “I think that you’re right, there are things you are not being told and should be told. If it’s in a vault like in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, or stuff is being stashed in a vault or wherever, by the British government, that needs to be sorted out.”
LABRATS is working with cross-party MPs to win recognition in all its forms, and also present were Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, and Sir John Hayes CBE, Conservative MP for South Holland and the Deepings, and patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association.
Rebecca said afterwards: “The PM seemed to be appalled at what we told him, and I think genuinely shocked by what’s happened to these men and their families. Now we need to make sure he does deliver the justice he promised us, and to have that moment of national recognition and acknowledgement to end this scandal once and for all. This would be an important and long overdue first step but beyond this I also hope the PM recognises the real need for research for descendants, financial and medical support for veterans and their families, war pension reform and education.”
Sir John Hayes MP told the PM a medal “was just the right thing to do”. Afterwards he said: “The PM heard the cause of the veterans. I have great faith that he will now do the right thing for them.”