Updated: Aug 4
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.
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.
TRUTH IS THE ONLY ARBITER
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?
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IS THE PUBLICS ONLY SECURITY.
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?
GOVERNMENT IS AIRBRUSHING NUCLEAR VETERANS FROM HISTORY.
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 email@example.com 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,
TRULY EMOTIVE AND NOT UNEXPECTED FURTHER ACCOUNT OF GOVERNMENT COVER - UP
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.
AND FINALLY – CAN SCIENTIFIC ADVICE TO MINISTERS TODAY BE TRUSTED TO BE IMPARTIAL ?
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,
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ARCHIVE HISTORY SHOWS THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE 1958 DEATH OF NUCLEAR VETERAN DEREK REDMAN CONFIRMS THE GOVERNMENT POSITION REGARDING NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS AND IS UNDERPINNED BY - ‘IT ‘S A PITY BUT IT CANNOT BE HELPED ‘ THE 195I PRIME MINISTERIAL ETHOS IGNORING ADVICE GIVEN BY THE GOVERNMENT’s OWN SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS FOR POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY RATHER THAN THE TRUTH.
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?
Since the start of the millennium (and before) the Government position of 1950’s political expediency has been remorselessly exposed as untenable. This has been shown in archive documents etc from 1945 to date. [e.g . CVFI report to the Scottish Parliament 1945 – 2014]
Just a few of many post - millennium examples from archive records of the Combined History Archive of Nuclear Veterans show why we veterans, and many others, have absolutely no trust in the information you and other Minsters are given by officials regarding science to support the Governments position. This has been a vexation to us for over 50 years.
SOME OF MANY EXTRACTS FROM NUCLEAR VETERAN ARCHIVES 2002 AND ONWARDS REVEAL POLITICAL BIAS OF SCIENCE TRUTH.
2002 - An independent non-Government scientist (i.e. unbiased with regard to the Cold War political expediency of the Government position) won a widow’s pension at an Appeal Tribunal following the death of her nuclear veteran husband. Her husband like the vast majority of nuclear veterans at test locations carried no personal dosimeter. However the Judge accepted evidence her husband’s death was due to inhaling and/or ingesting radioactive alpha and beta particles present in weapon test fall-out. The MoD offered no defence to this evidence (they had none). The evidence given from the independent European Committee on Radiation Risk [ECRR] showed fall-out is a high risk, acute and chronic hazard when inside the body damaging individual cells, tissue, organs and bone.
2004 - The former Head of Radiation Protection Division of the World Health Organisation (Europe) 1991 to 2003 revealed at an Edinburgh Conference in a presentation : “ Science, Politics and Ethics at the Low Dose“ referring to the Government’s 1980’s and 1990’s epidemiological studies of nuclear veteran mortality he said:
“ These studies raised a serious flaw in methodology. Exposed and the control modulations used by the NRPB can no longer guarantee to be free of bias. It is clear the science and associated ethics have been perverted for political aims.
It is sad that the NRPB , which should be an independent and technically competent body, was complicit in this process.”
2006 – The assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in a London Hotel. Causation of his death was admitted by Health Protection Agency scientists (former NRPB now PHE) to be ingested low dose alpha particles i.e. one of the range of radioactive particulates found in nuclear weapon test fall out.
This is a truth of science known by Government scientists the beginning of the bomb tests in 1952 . A truth denied since as having no possible link to the legacy ill health etc of nuclear test veterans
2007 – The Parliamentary Inquiry (nuc vets) was manipulated by the Chairman (a scientist with MoD links) to omit details of a later 2009 peer reviewed study showing evidence nuclear veterans have an elevated 300% more chromosomal translocation in their DNA (i.e. genetic damage) than veterans of similar age etc who had not attended a weapon test location.
2009 - MoD attempts to avoid accountability of nuc vet claims by a Limitation Trial failed. The Judge ruled the ”prime causal link” to veteran claimants ill health and premature deaths etc is fall-out he added cytogenetic chromosomal analysis of veterans blood is “crucial and pivotal evidence” to allow all cases to proceed.
2010 – The 655 page Redfern Inquiry into tissue analysis at nuclear establishments over several decades was published . The QC found nuclear veterans as well as nuclear workers, without family consent, have by clandestine post-mortems had tissue, organs and bone removed for analysis and destruction. Buried in the detail of this three and a half year Inquiry report the purpose of the post-mortems was “for medical research and in case of future claims for compensation.”
Departments involved in the Inquiry were scientist and doctors of the NRPB and the MoD, supported by Medical Research Council (MRC), Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and NHS assisted by other doctors, pathologists and coroners.
Suffice to say, the above revealing extract of chronological time-table of nuclear veteran history since 2000 has not ended in 2010. There is much more from 2011 to 2019. In brief : history does not support the vexation of the Government position regarding nuclear veterans. We veterans are sure public opinion will reach the same conclusion and intend to post more information on Social Media. The latest historic update fits well into the context of above and or intent to inform public opinion.
2020 - The report of the circumstances of the death of nuclear veteran Derek Redman, Royal Engineer at Christmas Island in 1958 is published. This extremely fit 27 year old boxer and scuba diver was strong enough to manhandle a bogged down Army lorry out of soft sand with his bare hands the day before his death . Fellow sappers, remember Derek felt ill overnight, fell into a coma and died in the infirmary. His relatives were not told if a post-mortem was carried out. A hastily assembled party buried him at sea four hours after he died in a metal coffin.
Another Royal Engineer still alive today was in the burial party and confirms Derek was ordered to take scientists into fallout to collect samples in the previous week without any protective clothing or a respirator following the detonation of Grapple ‘Y’, Britain’s largest H-bomb. The scientists wore protective clothing and respirators whilst servicemen had no such protection.
The official cause of death was given as "diabetes of sudden onset and great severity”. This is disputed by relatives. His brother Donald, now 84 said: “ Derek wasn’t diabetic. He was build like a brick outhouse and never sick a day in his life. We’ve always believed the radiation killed him. They used him in their experiments and then swept it under the carpet.”
Historic records of the test programme 1952 to 67 agree with Donald Redman and confirmed by Government policy set in 1951 ‘ t’s a pity but it cannot be helped' enabled the use, abuse and then abandonment of loyal servicemen. A 1955 top secret document reveals : “We do not want you to relate any statements on genetic effects or radiation.” Another top secret document in 1956 revealed the nuclear weapon testing provided an “ideal scientific opportunity for biological experiments of the effects of fall out on animals and men.”
Derek Redman is Cold War hero one of the 30,000 or so British, Australian, New Zealand and other Commonwealth nations who too part in the weapon test experiments. Their fate has been accepted by Government as necessary collateral damage. The experimental use of veterans has many references in the nuclear weapon test history. All have been betrayed.
We believe whilst it was in the Cold War national interest to do the bomb tests, the abuse of men during this period and the advice given to Ministers since then by officials of the position of successive Governments clearly has been “perverted for political aims“. This is something we veterans believe is not in the national interest to allowed to be continued. All of this past nuclear veteran history has impact today.
THE HISTORY OF NUCLEAR VETERANS IS RELEVANT TODAY AND THE FUTURE.
Can the this Government be trusted?
Nuclear veterans health was adversely impacted by the inhalation and /or ingestion of invisible atmospheric fall-out. This fall-out contained a Pandora's box of alpha and beta radioactive particles. Once inside the body (Confirmed in a 2007 letter by Shadow Minister for Veterans , Mark Harper MP advised by MoD officials) this man-made pathogen ‘destroys tissue at a cellular level, damages organs, blood and bone’ whilst, like covid-19, outside the body it is harmless.
The current coronavirus, covid-19 is also an invasive and hazardous airborne pathogen: unseen and invisible. The single source of invisible radiation pathogen faced by nuclear veterans is well known : the many sources of covid-19 pathogen could be from anyone who is a carrier.
Nuclear veterans are hoping the scientific advice being given to Ministers and relayed to the public during the current covid–19 emergency will be a vast improvement on the ‘it’s a pity but it cannot be helped’ ethos used for almost 70 years against veterans to deny a duty of care. Radiation’s first impact on the veterans health at low dose is damage to less or greater extent to our immune systems and we are happy to see the scientific advice given to potential covid-19 victims has take this into account.
Of course the immune system has the ability to repair itself in younger age groups but the elderly are more vulnerable.
We are sure the this Government leadership will get the nation through this crisis. This Governments intentions in many policy areas has been welcomed. The result of the recent election clearly show the public are not stupid.
So, as President Roosevelt said in encouragement to Prime Minister Winston Churchill when Britain had its back to the wall during the second World War:
“ Sail on, sail on, oh Ship of State glorious in your majesty. “
We nuclear veterans who served in the national interest during the Cold War are confident this Government will do just as President Roosevelt encouraged.
This is a learning curve for this and all previous Governments. Lessons must be learnt. We hope the covid-19 emergency will encourage Government to ensure scientific advice to Ministers is changed to be free of any the political bias as used against the nuclear test veterans.
On behalf of the CVFI and Combined History Archive of Nuclear Veterans.
Any recipient of the email letter may post the whole or any portion on Social Media .Nuclear veterans and associates believe in freedom of the press and freedom of expression is an essential and necessary foundation of democracy. Many indeed have suffered ill health and death for that cause. E&OE. CHANV 19032020.