Andy Burnhan calls for Boris Johnson to apologise to nuclear test veterans

Andy Burnham


Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is calling for “truth, justice, and accountability” from Prime Minister Boris Johnson 70 years after the UK was catapulted into the Cold War arms race

Andy Burnham was speaking at a gathering of survivors and their families (

(Image: James McCauley/REX/Shutterstock)

Boris Johnson has been told to issue a national apology to Britain’s nuclear test veterans for “the greatest injustice of them all”.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham made the call for “truth, justice, and accountability” at a gathering of survivors and their families, 70 years after Operation Hurricane which catapulted the UK into the Cold War arms race.

Test veterans are routinely denied war pensions, despite high rates of cancer and blood disease, elevated rates of miscarriage in their wives and 10 times the normal rate of birth defects in their children.

The meeting heard emotional testimony from wives, widows, and children, as well as veterans.

In one extraordinary moment, when a group of seven veterans on stage were asked if they’d had cancer, all raised their hands.

When asked how many of them had lost a child to miscarriage or early death, six raised their hands again.

“This is the greatest injustice of them all, because it betrayed brave people who signed up to serve our country, and it inflicted an ongoing and repeated harm to generations,” said Mr Burnham.

“In this 70th anniversary year, the Prime Minister of this country needs to stand at the despatch box in the House of Commons and make a national apology to each and every one of you, and every member of your families, who have suffered through these past 70 years.”

The UK’s hydrogen bomb test over Christmas Island

He asked how anyone could feel “anything but shame for how these members of our armed forces have been treated”

For more than 30 years the Mirror has campaigned for justice for the brave men who took part in Britain’s nuclear weapons tests.

Deputy Labor leader Angela Rayner called on Defense Secretary Ben Wallace to issue a medal to all who took part in tests between 1952 and 1991.

She also asked for a compensation scheme for veterans and descendants, additional medical support, and research into the health problems of their families.

“These are not big asks,” she said.

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Christmas Island veteran John Morris


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“These brave veterans were experimented on without consent, and most have reported suffering from medical problems since learning about the extent of the radiation they were exposed to.”

Suzanne Eades-Willis, whose father was a veteran, struggled with autoimmune diseases and a week ago was told her liver was “dying” and she has not got long left to live. “I am determined to walk my daughter down the aisle in June,” she said.

Boris Johnson promised to meet veterans in November, but so far his office has been unable to provide a date for them to come to Downing Street.

Anne Quinlan, whose dad Terry witnessed many H-bombs, urged him to hurry up. “I can’t pin a medal on a gravestone,” she said.

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