Information from the Combined History Archive of Nuclear Veterans (CHANV)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Letter to Susie Boniface, Daily Mirror.

Copy to MP’s Chris Evans and Carol Monghen in support of the Mirror Campaign

Bcc’d to unnamed others internationally.

Dear Susie,

Thank you for your report of 09 March – Nuke Tests Hero’s Death ‘A Cover-Up’ - passed to me by nuke vet campaigner Dave Whyte. The public, in an open democracy, need to know the true history of the Cold War weapon tests. They need to know the truth of impact on the health of those who took part in these experiments and not the sanitised version fed by Government officials which support a policy to deny responsibility and accountability.


The circumstances of Derek Redman’s death and burial are now added to CHANV records of accumulated archive documents from 70 years 1950 to date.  A period which commenced by a Prime Ministerial edict that treated the warnings of scientists of the hazard of atmospheric fall out on those who participated , with out adequate protective clothing or respirators as “ a pity but it cannot be helped“.

Our records show  advice given by scientists to Ministers is very often ‘perverted for political reasons’ . This especially , in the case of radiation damage to health and the premature death’s of veterans . Epidemiologists statistical research in particular has been enable to take precedence over diagnostic cytogenetic blood testing to enable Government policy of denial to be enforced by officials.

Your excellent report therefore raises many questions of public interest when Government scientists are giving advice to Ministers on how to control and inhibit the impact on health of the unseen and invisible new pathogen coronavirus now loose in the environment. Can the politicians be trusted to handle this situation with something better that the edict they used politically avoid accountability, responsibility and a duty of care for veterans?


The only way the court of  public opinion can know the historic truth rather than the fiction of this emotive issue is through continued freedom of the press. Records held by veterans and others show all measures taken to reveal the truth of the test programme, including use of the Freedom of Information Act  questions,  are controlled by the Government. Added to this, in 2019 nuclear historians and other academics have been barred any access to the data of radiation levels at test locations for an unlimited period of years. The public need to know this is the  ‘final solution’ to cover-up the truth. Officials are prepared to do everything possible to avoid accountability.

Now, as never before, is a time for openness and honesty from political leadership. Susie, the last time we met was in 2012. This was at Dave Whyte’s First Tier Freedom of Information Tribunal hearing in London which he won. However, since 2012 nothing has changed regarding openness and honesty.  Denial of accountability and responsibility despite 1950’s warnings of genetic damage from fall out has continued to be enforced by officials to this day. Dave’s FTFOI Tribunal, you may remember, was against the failure of the MoD to disclose details of his radiation dose at Christmas Island in 1958 and radiation levels on the island at the time. He won the case because the lack of credibility of the MoD barrrister’s defence was exposed. David,  presenting his evidence without any legal aid, showed that in the 1990’s counsel for the Ministry had admitted (in a case at a European Court of Human Rights) :  ‘there is no national security interest radiation levels at nuclear tests to be withheld from claimants'. In the overall archive history of nuclear veterans his success has subsequently been ignored and it is apparent the MoD has a vested interest to maintain a negative attitude and culture towards the welfare of veterans and in particular those who served during the Cold War.

Yet despite this success the body – politic continues to live in denial. How can they ever be trusted?


Alan Owen, Chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, noted in Fissionline Issue 58 of October 2019, nuclear veterans are ‘to be airbrushed from history’. Alan gave credible detailed information to support this claim. ( copies of this are available on request at or from CHANV records)

The Government’s position towards nuclear veterans remains unchanged despite warnings of genetic damage occurring in nuclear veterans from fall out it  ‘is pity but it cannot be helped‘  (Prime Ministerial edict of the 1950’s). This is an edict to ensure recognition of nuclear veterans claims is never granted. This appears to be part of a decades long attrition of denial until all nuclear veterans and widows are dead.

In 2009 Mr Justice Foskett ruled ‘the prime causal link‘ to nuclear veterans ill health is fall out. He also ruled cytogenetics is ‘crucial and pivotal evidence’ . Other pension appeal tribunal success has happened but no precedence has been allowed. Awards of service attributable pensions by the DHSS for a brief period in the 1990’s, prior to veterans agency control, confirm nuclear veterans are politically excluded from justice by the MoD. All means of control possible are historically shown to have been used at great expense to the taxpayer : which includes false death certificates, burial without proper post-mortems to establish the actual causation of death, clandestine blood, tissue, organ and bone analysis of deceased nuclear veterans by Government pathologists – Redfern Report 2010 - ,  significantly flawed and discredited National Radiological Protection Board epidemiological studies of the 1980’s and 90’s, loss of medical records in service and much, much else besides.

The truth will not go away. Derek Redman’s death and subsequent burial is now part of nuclear veterans history it is yet another,


Publication of nuclear test veteran Derek Redman’s death, said to due to  ‘diabetes severe sudden onset’, in an extremely fit young man of 27 is another confirmation of the 1950’s PM edict regarding nuclear hazard.  That is to ignore and sweep under the carpet any truth regarding the known scientific advice of radiation induced health hazard regarding  genetic damage for those who served at  nuclear test locations without adequate protection or respirators.

This is a Cold War hang-over and confirms politicians and officials today still cannot be trusted.

The MoD’s continued disingenuous mantra is still  : ‘ there is no valid evidence to link ill health of those who participated in the nuclear tests ‘ (stated again by MoD at the end of your Mirror report). This  is shown as a lie by archive history held by veterans in UK, and elsewhere. The Government’s position of known genetic damage from inhaled or ingested radioactive fall out particles is simply to ignore the science.

Derek Redman’s death, and the premature deaths of many, many other nuclear veterans, is  an embarrassment for the Government. An embarrassment born of callous indifference to the truth. An embarrassment supported by MoD officials in denial enforcing a negative culture and attitude against nuclear veterans and families.

Mirror readers need  to know 27 year old nuclear veteran Derek Redman’s death and burial in 1958 is not an isolated incident of unethical practice during the Cold War and since. The cover-up of Derek’s death and circumstances also applied to the death of young Leading Aircraftman Ronald Madison, at Porton Down in 1950’s chemical and biological weapon experiments. This young airman who thought he was taking part in research to find  a cure for the ‘common cold’ was  deliberately exposed to a lethal nerve agent. His body was sealed into a metal coffin, hidden from family view, and buried. It was only about 15 years ago in 2005 that the Government was forced to admit his death was ’illegal‘. Members of Parliament noted in debate it was time for the MoD to change its ‘negative attitude and culture’ towards veterans. Nothing has changed.

The bodies of both young veterans, exposed to Cold War non – conventional military grade weapon material, were expediently disposed of quickly to avoid any post-mortem to establish the true causation of their early deaths. All this of course motivated by officials at the MoD to avoid accountability and responsibility to their families during the Cold War and beyond. All is this said to be done in the national interest.  This is truly emotive and shocks because it is unthinkable, to most rational people,  that a democracy acts in this way towards its own loyal servicemen. It begs the question : if the Government treats its own loyal servicemen in the manner what trust can the public have that they will not be treated the same?

What else can be learnt from your report? Control of science by politicians and officials. Cover-up by Government of these issues is a decades long legacy of deliberate betrayal . Officials, scientists, pathologists, epidemiologists and many others, willing to accept Government salary and pensions, are shown by archive records of nuclear veterans to have escaped accountability so far without any responsibility.  But then,  all truth eventually washes up into daylight and becomes self evident or,  as Voltaire noted over two hundred years ago, all truth  ‘at first is ridiculed, then is vehemently denied and finally is self-evident.’

Times are changing but the mindset of our political leadership is not . On environmental matters today’s so-called ‘ internet- savvy millennial generation’ has emerged. These young people are beginning to quickly piece - together just how much of an environmental mess their generation have inherited from the past 70 years. This is probably going to became a big vexation for political leaders in the future unless admitted and acted upon.  It would be appreciated if you know any young non-Government academic , interested in the history we veterans have accumulated, who would be prepared to assist in making a referenced dossier of it all for benefit of today's and future generations?

Cold War veterans campaign for truth has been inhibited by the gagging tactics used by officials such as  ‘D’ notices,  the Official Secrets Act used to silence veterans as a ‘vexation’ and therefore to be ignored.  Change is therefore inevitable in this age of ever swift internet exchange of information.


From the experience of nuclear test veterans the answer regarding scientific advice from officials the answer is no, the Government cannot  be trusted to be impartial until they become open and honest in these matters.

In a letter from Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans of 19 September 2019 on the treatment of nuclear veterans he repeated,  on advice of MoD officials, the old Cold War mantra also given to the media : “ peer reviewed evidence simply does not support the kind of change in Government policy veterans are hoping to achieve.”  This is untrue.

Peer reviewed evidence supporting nuclear veterans claims is ignored, those who have died prematurely are denied post-mortems to assess causation and those who are still alive have been denied, since returning from bomb test locations, access to cytogenetic blood tests and therefore any duty of care under a meaningful covenant etc.

In the same 19/9 2019 letter Minister Mercer wrote : “I recognise (the claims of nuclear test veterans) is an emotive issue.”

For the benefit of Mirror readers the treatment of nuclear veterans and families is indeed an extremely emotive issue. When loyal servicemen die in the course of doing their duty for the nation and are hastily buried with a politically expedient certificate of causal of death,  without any proper post-mortem to confirm the actual causal link of death, this is an example of institutional abuse of power.

Bias in science pre-dates the British Nuclear Weapon Test Programme of 1952 to 67. In 1951 eminent biologist Professor Alec Haddow, Director of the Chester Beatty Research Institute, Royal Cancer Hospital London,  after seeing recently published scientific papers of the impact of fall out from 1945 atomic bombing of Japan, complained to Government that his and other eminent biologists concerns were met by ‘a wall of silence’ and advice requested was being withheld by ‘committees of stooges’. He added his real fears were not for now but for the effect of bomb test fall out in ‘50 years time‘.

Fast forward to fifty years. Environment Minister, Michael Meacher MP, in early 2000 initiated a committee to investigate the effect of inhaled and ingested fall out. His Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters [CERRIE] was sabotaged by threats from Government lawyers and published only a one – sided report. In 2004 after he had been replaced as Environment Minister wrote : “Science can only be trusted  if it is pursued with the most rigorous procedures that guarantee from bias.” This is an example of a politician with good intention being removed from office.

In the same year, 2004, Dr Keith Baverstock a former Head of the Radiological Protection Agency (Europe) for the World Health Organisation at a presentation “Science, politics and ethics in the low dose“ stated Government studies undertaken by the NRPB (a former department of Public Health England) in the 1980’s and 90’s of nuclear test veterans mortality were ‘perverted for political reasons’ to achieve a biased result.

Professor Haddow’s 1951 concerns were confirmed by eminent radiobiologist Professor Shoji Sawada’s peer reviewed study “The Cover-Up of the Effects of Internal Exposure by Residual ( Fall Out ) Radiation from the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

All the above is just part of a toxic history of betrayal. In the current climate it appears advice given by experts to Ministers regarding coronavirus. Is absolutely essential. It is fervently hoped for all our sakes the advice given will be free from any political bias.

What is NOT needed now is a repetition of advice given on the issue of the nuclear veterans ill health that it is a ‘pity but it cannot be helped’. Any advice given to Ministers must be advice that can be trusted to deliver benefit to all citizens that is : advice without political control or subsequent bias.

After the current virus emergency  political interference in science must  cease and openness and accountability must  prevail. This for the sake of all.

Thanks again to you Susie and all who contributed to your report of 09 March.

With kind regards  and best wishes to all,

Dennis Hayden

Nuclear Veteran

On behalf of the Combined History Archive of Nuclear Veterans (CHANV)

The archive records held internationally by those (past and surviving) who served at British Nuclear Weapon Test locations .

Some CHANV references:

  1. The 2009 double peer reviewed Rowland Study showed veterans who attended a nuclear test locations had 300% more chromosomal translocations in their DNA (genetic damage) than veterans of similar  age and life habits who had not attended such a location.

  2. In 2005 after the MoD admitted the death of young LAC Madison, by nerve agent during a weapon experiment was ‘illegal’.  It was stated in debate that the MoD has a ‘negative culture’  towards the welfare of veterans. Nothing has changed.  

  3. Archive records show many instances of warnings given by independent scientists during the 1950’s and since regarding the risk of alpha and beta fall out when inhaled or ingested into the body. All such reports are ignored by political expediency.

  4. The full content of the Minister’s letter of 19 September and Defence People Secretariat’s letter of 19 November 2019 were not accepted as credible by reference to nuclear veterans archive records which show the advice given to Ministers by officials is biased and inaccurate and remains unaltered since the 1950’s to conform to an unchanged Prime Ministerial edict to deny responsibility.


To :   The Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP , Minister for Veterans               

Our Ref:   CHANV email letter 19 03 2020

Dear Minister for Veterans

Attached :  16 March email letter to the Daily Mirror.

Dear Minister,

This is further to your 19 Sept 2019 letter and also 19 November letter from officials at Defence People Secretariat responded to and unanswered. Events have moved on. The Governments position on nuclear veterans becomes ever more untrustworthy.


The report in the Daily Mirror of 09 March – Nuke Tests Hero’s Death ‘ A Cover-Up’ – and comments on behalf of the Combined History Archive of Nuclear Veterans [ CHANV ] of 16 March is attached. These are all legacy events you have inherited as a Defence Minister.

The circumstances of the 1958 cover – up and swift burial  of 27 year old Derek Redman,  at Christmas Island, is an addition to the history of nuclear veterans’ betrayal. This history has been collated by nuclear veterans and associates internationally. It is information of public interest which we intend posted on Social Media.

It’s further information to the ‘emotive issue’ stated in your 19 September letter to my Member of Parliament, Mark Harper. That is, the emotive issue of a lack of apology and any meaningful recognition for nuclear veterans which spans almost 70 years of this and previous Government nuclear veteran policy.

Since your letter you been failed by your officials to give any response to the CHANV  24 October 2019 letter in which each paragraph of  the Government position was noted as : “ Typical obfuscation advised by MoD officials.”

The fact of the matter is  advice to Ministers has long been overtaken by an understanding of the causation of the legacy ill health and genetic damage. A fact  known to the Prime Minister in the 1950’s and dismissed as “a pity but it cannot be helped.”

Due to Government intransigence and bad faith we believe it  is time the public is made aware of the ‘negative culture and attitude‘ towards veterans actually noted by Members of Parliament in a 2005 House of Commons debate. This position is applied particularly to the men who participated in the testing of non-conventional chemical, biological and nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

Nuclear veterans archive records show - as do many works by other accredited nuclear historians, journalists and scientists - the history of the nuclear weapon test programme 1952 to 67 is best described as a programme where politicians, scientists and officials became intoxicated by the power given them by the acquisition of nuclear weapons,  during the heavily censored Cold War period,  and the veterans who served at test locations were exposed (without adequate protection and respirators from alpha and beta radioactive fall out particles) to inherit a Cold War hang-over of legacy ill health, genetic damage, a range of serious illness and premature deaths.  The veterans and families  have been  left ignored and abandoned by this and previous Governments.

Who can be trusted in 2020 from this legacy of political interference in scientific advice to act  impartially in the national interest?