NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS HIGH COURT APPEAL
There is a critically important court case in the Royals Courts of Justice in London which began in July 2015 and which is being fought by a small team of poor old men on the one side, against the enormous resources of the Secretary of State for Defence on the other. The issue is the effects of low doses of radiation from contamination at the test sites, cancer in veterans who were there, and congenital birth defects in their children and grandchildren. The team of five is being led by Dr Chris Busby who is not acting in his usual role as expert witness, but is now personally representing the veterans in court as a lay advocate. No one on our side has any money; LLRC was left a small bequest in a will and has been supporting the case since 2015 but that pot is empty. We need money to continue this case which has been ordered for three weeks from June 2016 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The team are Prof Chris Busby (Riga, Latvia), Group Captain Andrew Ades MBE (Cornwall), Mr David Williams (Woking), Mr Robbie Manson (Carmarthen, Wales), and Mr Hugo Charlton (London). All are working for nothing, often not even expenses.
- We need to bring four expert witnesses to give evidence before the Tribunal; these witnesses are Prof. Inge Schmitz Feuerhake (Germany), Prof Shoji Sawada (Japan), Prof Vyvyan Howard (Ireland), Prof Malcolm Hooper (Sunderland). We also have three lay witnesses to bring and support.
- We need to pay for accommodation and expenses for Chris and two other members of the group to be in London for the three weeks of the trial. Busby is in the process of selling his house in England and lives in Riga Latvia. We need to support the massive amount of photocopying and clerical work which has been carried out by Dai Williams of Woking and who acts as the groups clerical base in London.
The Low Level Radiation Campaign has, together with Green Audit, been supporting and funding the Atomic Test Veterans Pensions Appeals since 2004 when Chris Busby first acted as Expert Witness in a Tribunals Pensions Appeal for the wife of Australian test site veteran Gerald Adshead. Gerald died of cancer after his exposure at Maralinga. At the appeal in Birmingham, the decision to refuse him a pension was overturned. Between then and 2010, Chris, as expert witness, won appeals for 5 other veterans, and had been commissioned by three others when the Ministry stepped in and cancelled the hearings. MoD needed to destroy Chris as an expert because he was winning appeals and was being relied upon by the Tribunal judge the late HH Hugh Stubbs, who wrote in one of his decisions (Colin Duncan Appeal 2008):
On 24 October 2006 Mr Duncan appealed against the Secretary of State’s refusal to award him a War pension in respect of the claimed conditions. In his reasons for appeal Mr Duncan referred to his exposure to Alpha and beta particles and to the danger of inhalation or ingestion. Professor Busby submitted a detailed expert report dated 30 March 2008 (page 209 SoC). He is a distinguished scientist who was asked by Michael Meacher MP. Minister of the Environment. to be a member of the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE). This is an area of science where there are divergent views. We find that the Secretary of State has insufficiently considered Professor Busby’s two principal arguments:
- that the greater risk to Mr Duncan was through inhalation; and
- that a low reading on a dose meter does not necessarily indicate also a low exposure to alpha and beta particles.
The Secretary of State chose to make no further comment on the information contained in Professor Busby’s further expert written statement. Professor Busby gave evidence at the Tribunal hearing. We find that his evidence is both cogent and reliable and raises a reasonable doubt that the Secretary of
State’s views which rely exclusively on contemporary dose meter readings is wrong.
The Ministry of Defence fights back
The government collected all of Chris’s cases, and 12 others into one huge case to be heard in London. Rosenblatt Solicitors represented the veterans. Chris was commissioned to write reports for all of these. In the next two years Chris fought it out on paper against the MoD experts producing twelve reports. But in 2011 Rosenblatt pulled out and was replaced by Hogan Lovell. The new firm waited to the last possible minute, two weeks before the hearing in January 2013, to ditch Chris and all his twelve reports of evidence. They brought in their own expert witness, Prof Paddy Regan. All the cases were lost. Following this, two of the veterans appealed the decision on the basis that Busby’s evidence had been ignored and that they had not been consulted by Hogan Lovell about this in time to do anything. The judge, Hugh Stubbs allowed the appeal to go forward to the Upper Court. In a bizarre twist, both the judge, Mr Stubbs and later our veteran Don Battersby, died from Pancreatic cancer, the same cancer that had killed our other veteran Barry Smith.
Busby assembled his new team. In the appeal court, over three days in the witness box, MoD QCs argued that Busby was not a proper expert and his evidence should have been ignored. The case was advanced by Andrew Ades, Hugo Charlton and Robbie Manson. Sir William Charles agreed that Busby was an expert, but was persuaded by the MoD lawyers that he should not be allowed to give expert evidence as he was an “activist” and therefore biased. He could, however, act as the advocate for the veterans. Three days of cross examination enabled Chris to give all his evidence about low doses of internal radiation and the failure of the current radiation risk model. This may have influenced the judge to allow the appeal and overturn the decision, remitting the case to a new Tribunal. Busby then applied for a Judicial Review of Charles decision on “activist bias” which he argued was unlawful. The application was turned down and costs of £2750 were awarded to the MoD for their work in opposing the claim.
The new case ( NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS )
The new remitted appeal is being heard before a High Court judge, Sir Nicholas Blake in the Royal Courts of Justice. The first hearing was in the Court of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales with Busby (in a suit and tie) leading for the appellants. We provided Statements of Claim and requests for Disclosure of secret information relating the fallout from the tests. The group have been pursued and harassed by the MoD under the Official Secrets Act but have soldiered on. We have travelled to London from Riga and Cornwall and slept on floors. We have called for help from our scientist friends in the European Committee on Radiation Risk. Busby has to sell his house.
Despite the late Teddy Goldsmith writing that Busby was the greatest anti-nuclear activist of all, Busby’s and LLRCs support from the foundations like Rowntree, Polden Puckham, Goldsmith and others stopped after Busby was attacked by George Monbiot in the Guardian in 2011. In a scurrilous and misinformed series of articles just after Fukushima and in his UK “Gentleman George” tour, Monbiot accused Busby of cheating and false claims about radiation and its effects. Despite rulings by the Press Complaints Council, the Guardian refused to allow Busby to respond. And Monbiot refused to debate the issue with Chris when invited to by Oxford CND and Oxford Green Party in 2012. Chris has shrugged this off and carried on with LLRC’s crusade to bring the truth about internal radiation effects to the public and the scientific community. In 2013, LLRC received a small bequest. Busby has won some court cases in the USA and has published several papers in peer review journals, including three on cancer near UK nuclear sites. But after Monbiot, and the High court ruling about activism and expertise, the court cases have stopped. The financial situation is dire.
The judge in the new case has now been persuaded of the importance of the LLRC argument and has ordered the Secretary of State for Defence to release documents needed by the team. In his Decision reasons of 21st December he wrote:
Dr Busby who now represents the appellants Battersby and Smith raises a number of new points not previously determined. . .
. . . Uranium and other elements released by detonation are a source of risk by means that are not identified in conventional measurement. . . The International Radiation Protection Authority’s guidance on the safe maxima is insufficient to screen out all risks to human health arising for explosions of the kind undertaken and Maralinga and Christmas Island.
This is the best chance the anti-nuclear movement has ever had to win. A win will influence future Pensions awards to vets, and will also influence the belief in the current radiation risk model, and thus affect nuclear power, nuclear and uranium weapons. Please help us with a donation to the Low Level Radiation Campaign.
Send cheques to LLRC, The Knoll, Montpellier Park, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LW and write Test Veterans on the back.
You can pay directly into HSBC Bank, Llandrindod Wells Branch,
40-30-05 Account: Low Level Radiation Campaign; Account No 51384007; or use the Donate buttons on www.llrc.org
Or Green Audit: the Donate button on www.greenaudit.org
Barclays Bank Aberystwyth 20-18-41 A/C Green Audit No 10161187
Phone Chris Busby on 07989-428833 for more information