In documents passed to us via a Veteran who continues to fight for justice, damning evidence that Maralinga Veterans were exposed has emerged.
In a letter from the Air Ministry, dated 5th February 1958 from Air Commodore J S Wilson to Air Vice Marshal Daley, they discuss the setup of a urine examination facility.
The letter states:
"Would you please let me know if arrangements can be made for examining urine of personnel exposed to the risk if ingesting or inhaling radioactive material.
Some of those stationed at Maralinga and Edinburgh Field have to incur this hazard from time to time"
It is very clear from this letter that the Air Ministry were very aware of the hazards of radioactive material and were aware that serving personnel had been exposed.
Even more damning is the fact that they carry out the urine tests on the AWRE employees, but not the serving personnel. Stating:
"Here, in the Atomic Energy Establishments, urine tests are carried out on those at risk, but these are much too elaborate and specialised for routine use in the service."
As we always knew, the serving personnel were treated as second class. Scientists were monitored for their exposure, but the serving personnel were not tested, even though the Air ministry knew that they had been exposed.
The Department of Air of Commonwealth of Australia states that blood examinations of service and civilian personnel were carried out. Yet the results of these tests have never been published. The matter is referred back to the Board of Management, Atomic Weapons Tests.
Again, the matter is referred back to the Board of Management, Atomic Weapons Tests.
The minute paper dated 24th Feb 1958, confirms the exposure:
"The above suggestion is submitted on the assumption that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Supply to make available facilities which could be used for undertaking Radio-chemical facilities which could be used for undertaking Radio-chemical urinalysis of personnel, both service and civilians, who have been exposed to radio active material."
It also confirms that the Department of Supply should take responsibility for the testing.
The Air Ministry responds to the request, confirming that they want up to six specimens as a check and a check for Strontium 90 is proposed.
Again confirmation is given of the exposure:
"Monthly or quarterly, according to exposure radiation and findings"
How many service personnel had their urine tested? Where are the results of the findings?
It also confirms that the aircraft used in the testing process are contaminated:
"While servicing of radioactively contaminated aircraft continues. This may continue for some years, or cease at the end of the current series. Much depends on political climate"
These documents prove that the Air Ministry knew that the serving personnel have been exposed and that the testing of the exposure was not being undertaken. Scientists were being tested, but the serving personnel were not tested.
The MoD always argue that exposure is difficult to prove and that no records exist for individual personnel. Yet they admit to blood tests being taken.
These documents prove exposure and that it was understood in February 1958 that our serving personnel were being exposed, yet the testing continued.
These service personnel were treated as second class citizens, expendable, collateral damage with no regard for their safety or their basic human rights. They were treated as laboratory rats, not human beings.
The UK Government should hang their heads in shame and admit to their failings and finally recognise the servicemen and apologise to them and their families whose lives have been destroyed by their actions.
Shirley Denson told Gavin Williamson "You killed my husband". She was right!