fissionline Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children
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The sudden death of Judge Hugh Stubbs following his controversial decision to deny thousands of nuclear veterans war pensions is being investigated by the Ministry of Justice. The Armed Forces Chamber is to look at the circumstances surrounding Judge Stubbs’ death after concerns were expressed over his ability to handle the case. The matter has been passed to the Chamber’s Deputy President, a highranking judge, who has been asked to examine if judge Stubbs should have presided on the issue of cancers among nuclear veterans when he knew during the trial he was dying from cancer himself. The revelation, first disclosed by
fissionline, sent top lawyers scurrying for their law books as they searched for protocols covering such an eventuality. The crucial question of whether Judge Stubbs should have stepped down appears to have no precedent in English Law, although judiciaries in some US states have apparently ruled they should. A top lawyer close to the Stubbs Radiation Appeals Tribunal proceedings said: “There was some unease at the way Judge Stubbs handled the case. He seemed to change halfway through.” Judge Stubbs was already mired in controversy after it was revealed he was one of the UK’s top freemasons with close links to the Ministry of Defence. He shocked many observers
when, despite overwhelming supporting evidence, he ruled against thousands of nuclear veterans who claimed their injuries were caused by radiation exposure, A spokesman for The A r m e d F o r c e s Chamber in a statement said: “The matter has been sent to the Deputy Chamber President who will respond appropriately.”
MoD rocked by dying testimony of its own expert on nuclear bomb tests who in her final interview said: ‘I used to think the Bomb was right, but I was wrong.’ For fifty years distinguished historian Lorna Arnold, author of three books about Britain’s A-bomb tests has defended nuclear deterrent and has often been quoted by the Government to stave off claims for compensation by nuclear veterans. But just before she died, aged 98, in March this year she had a remarkable change of heart. In her final interview she explains why:-
‘I am very much opposed to nuclear weapons. I was not so strongly opposed in my very early days in working for the Atomic Energy Authority because I really did have a hope which was shared by a great many people that as horrific as nuclear weapons were they might at least keep the peace and prevent another war. And that seemed to me worth it. But I am now much less convinced of their value as a deterrent and I am totally opposed to their use operationally. I don’t think there ever has been any justifiable operational use of nuclear weapons because their effects are such that they are disproportionate to almost any objective. If you look at what was done in 1945 when two very small nuclear weapons were dropped on two Japanese cities and you see what the effects were. One bomb dropped from a single plane flying high over the city destroyed Hiroshima in seconds. There were firestorms, blast, heat and fallout. And thousands of people died not only at the time but of the after effects for years to come. Now that is disproportionate to any war aim I can think of. And that was just the result of one small bomb. We now have large stockpiles of nuclear weapons in existence in the world and there is no conceivable use for them. If you say they are not operational weapons but they are valuable as a deterrent I am not convinced by that at all either. I used to be into deterrent but my experience of seeing history unfold and seeing what the effects have been, what nuclear weapons have done and what they have failed to do convinces me that deterrent isn’t the solution. I think nuclear weapons are a somewhat overlooked danger today. As far as the general population is concerned we went through a period of great public anxiety almost panic about the dangers of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. But one of the characteristics of human beings is they cannot bare very much reality so they just get used to it, it just becomes a part of everyday life like the wallpaper. And I am very much afraid that is when things become dangerous. And when you have decision makers who are not experienced and do not understand what they are dealing and do not know what they are talking about, that is a very dangerous situation. They too easily take nuclear weapons for granted, and are unprepared for exactly what is involved.’
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DOC SLIPS ON WE Stubbs Part Four: Electric moment MoD Top Doc caught out using ‘Royal We.’
After two days in the witness box at the Stubbs War Pension Tibunal, Dr Anne Braidwood, the Mod’s top medical expert on War Pension claims finally lets her guard slip, allowing Lawyer Neil Sampson, representing the nuclear veterans, to strike. The dramatic moment came as Dr Braidwood defended the controversial National Radiological Protection Board studies which the MoD always insisted were absolutely independent:SAMPSON: I want to confirm if I understood your evidence earlier correctly. Is it your view that the criticisms of the NRPB by Professor Parker and others are wholly without foundation? BRAIDWOOD: I don’t use these kind of absolute languages. I accept some of the constraints and limitations which she has identified, but my understanding is that these were addressed such that the generally accepted view amongst the scientific community is that these studies are of a very high quality. SAMPSON: When you gave your evidence you said something which surprised me a little. Mr Metzer (barrister representing the veterans) was asking you questions about the questions that had been raised into the NRPB reports, and in particular, he was talking about...the number of veterans who had been included and
whether everybody had been caught by the report. You said, ‘Well, we didn’t have 100 per cent, but we have explained that.’ I was just a little troubled by the word “we”? There was apparently a long silence before Dr Braidwood replied. BRAIDWOOD: Yes, well, I’m a bit troubled by it too, so I apologise. I meant the researchers and it certainly — I am not an expert, but I hope I don’t lack integrity. I certainly didn’t mean to identify with any particular group. As far as I am concerned, I should have said, and I apologise to the court, the researchers… SAMPSON: So you weren’t aligning yourself with the NRPB? BRAIDWOOD: No, I wasn’t. No. Judge Stubbs and Mr Heppinstall, barrister representing the MoD, intervened saying Mr Sampson’s questions about reports and radiation exposure should be addressed to the Atomic Weapons Establishment. SAMPSON: Dr Braidwood, let’s move on to something completely different. Are you familiar with the United States Radiation Compensation Act? BRAIDWOOD: I know such a thing exists. SAMPSON: As a medical practitioner, are you able to give any explanation as to why the American servicemen, or British service-
men serving in American tests, their illnesses are capable of being deemed to have been caused by their attendance at the tests, whereas British servicemen are not? BRAIDWOOD: “I would say this was a political decision. Some countries have publicly funded schemes which try and attempt to be informed by evidence, which can include situations where evidence is only partial. With the Ministry of Defence’s no-fault compensation and pension schemes, the aim, which has been sort of upheld by successive governments, is to reflect the case facts, the contemporary scientific understanding of the causation of the disorders and of course the relevant case facts. In the United States and other countries one of the reasons for their different approach is that in the US there is no NHS. SAMPSON: The Isle of Man has a very similar National Health Service to England and Wales, but it pays compensation to veterans with a range of diseases. BRAIDWOOD: I think they were paid a one-off sum, is that right? But I think it cannot be relevant, the same probably applies to other countries. I think there were less than 10 veterans who met this criteria.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Fissionline Issue 21 4
Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children Issue 21
In the 1950s Britain stood on the brink of destruction as the United States and the Soviet Union unveiled more terrifying weapons of mass destruction. The government decided the country had to have comparable weapons after the following grim warning was delivered to Britain’s Chiefs of Staff: Dated May 31, 1954, it stated: ‘The United Kingdom will be the primary military target for attack in any future war, and will be subjected to a devastating attack by Russian bombers. We should have to expect that the United Kingdom would be completely devastated in the opening days to such an extent that it could no longer function and, indeed, the real problem might well be one of mere physical survival.’ Britain got its nuclear deterrent thanks to the thousands of brave servicemen who were dispatched to far-flung areas to ensure it worked. This country should never forget the men who
saved them during Britain’s direst hour.
A timely reminder of what really goes on at nuclear power stations: These huge tanks, 13 in all, hold the highly radioactive and thermally hot liquid nuclear wastes produced by Sellafield’s reprocessing operations. They are 6.2 metres high with a similar diameter and will each hold 150 cubic metres of liquid waste and are fitted with internal cooling coils and external cooling jackets. They need cooling 24/7 and a failure to do this for over 10 minutes or so can lead to a heating up of the liquid with a build up of hydrogen and eventual explosion! It is estimated that each full tank contains radioactive material that is some 3 times greater than the whole inventory released by the Chernobyl accident. *Words and picture: Cumbrians Opposed to a
Ministry In Wonderland The late historian Lorna Arnold was the Government’s official authority on the UK’s nuclear weapons tests. She was given unique access to the huge Top Secret archive of nuclear bomb test material held in the vaults of the Ministry of Defence and used it to produce three books about the bomb tests which supported the government’s view that no-one was harmed by nuclear bomb testing. She was a dyed-in-the-wool Establishment figure employed as she was for most of her career at the Ministry of Defence and the
Atomic Weapons Establishment. Yet in her dying days this premier nuclear expert had a complete change of heart and decided that nuclear weapons were bad news after all. The reason for the sudden volte-face was the effects of nuclear weapons both direct and genetic were just too dreadful to contemplate. Dr Anne Braidwood is the MoD’s chief medical adviser on war pensions for thousands of Britain’s nuclear veterans. By her own admission Dr Braidwood is not an expert in anything. Under cross
examination at the recent Ionising Radiation Appeals Tribunal she was forced to admit that she only had a very rudimentary knowledge of radiation and its effects, but averred that radiation could be good for you and that everyone was “surrounded by radiation” all the time. So, in the Alice in Wonderland world of the Ministry of Defence, we have on the one hand an undoubted expert declaring that radiation is bad for you, while on the other we have a non-expert medical adviser swearing it’s good for us. Who do you believe? The BNTVA threatened a disgruntled nuclear veteran with police action if he showed up at the AGM in Manchester. The charity’s trustees accuse him of “harassment” for asking awkward questions. At this rate the only people attending next year’s conference will be the trustees.
Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children