The Advisory Military Sub Committee (AMSC) has denied the request from the Nuclear Test Veterans for a medal in recognition of their service.
The announcement was made in a letter to the Chair of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association dated 9th December 2020.
An excerpt from letter (posted on the Official BNTVA Facebook page) says:
"Following a meeting with your predecessor, Alan Owen and Sir John Hayes MP in July 2018, the then Secretary of State for Defence invited the Cabinet Office to ask my independent sub-committee, through the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (the 'HD Committee'), to review and consider the previous decision with regards to medals for nuclear test veterans.
My Sub-Committee has been well aware of the ongoing Parliamentary and public interest on the case. I further understand that the then Secretary of State for Defence indicated his support for recognition if an independent review of the case recommended one.
The AMSC considered the unsuccessful case that had been made previously for a medal, the independent Military Medals Review by Sir John Holmes and the inaugural Advisory Military Sub-Committee in 2013. As invited, we considered whether any new evidence had come to light in support of the award of a medal and the assessments by our forerunners.
In considering whether the type of service undertaken by personnel involved in the test programme could be considered medal-worthy, the overwhelming view was that, not withstanding any finding over health risks, service in a austere environment did not, of itself, amount to the rigour deserving of a medal. As regards health, it was considered that health issues had never previously been accepted as a reason for a medal being awarded and there was no new evidence to justify any change to that."
The campaign has been running for over 2 years since the Daily Mirror, veterans and organisations supporting the claim created an online petition and met with Gavin Williamson in Whitehall. John Hayes MP has championed this claim in Parliament and many other MP's have supported the campaign for recognition in debates within the house and early day motions.
Carol Monaghan MP prepared an Early Day Motion (EDM) on 22nd October 2020, calling on the government to award this medal.
"That this House honours the UK service personnel who participated in the British nuclear testing programme in Australia and the South Pacific from 1952 to 1967; notes that over 20,000 British personnel were present during the atomic tests and were exposed to ionising radiation with little or no personal protective equipment; acknowledges that British nuclear test veterans have long campaigned for the official recognition of their great and ongoing sacrifice, and compensation for health conditions resulting from exposure to the high-levels of ionising radiation; understands that the UK is the only country which performed nuclear tests that is yet to formally recognise the contribution of its nuclear test veterans; and urges the Government to award service medals, without delay, to our nuclear test veterans, whose numbers are now sadly dwindling."
The EDM was been signed by 16 MP's across all parties.
This outcome is an insult to the Nuclear Veterans, especially as a drone operators operating over 2,000 miles away are in-line to get medallic recognition.
The meaning of Austere is bleak, spartan, stark all suggest lack of ornament or adornment and of a feeling of comfort or warmth. The environment during and after a Nuclear explosion is not an austere one, it is terrifying. If the committee were to listen to testimonies from the veterans, perhaps the outcome would have been different. This decision has been made by people who have never experienced the worst of mans creations.
LABRATS will continue for recognition for the British Nuclear Veterans by writing to MP's and voicing our anger at this decision. You can also write to your MP and ask them to challenge this decision.
We would like to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly in this campaign, especially Colin Moir whose passion for official recognition led to the creation of the petition and the campaign. The Daily Mirror and Susie Boniface, the MP's and the veteran organisations for for their continued support. To everyone who has written letters, prepared Social Media posts, this fight is not over, it will continue.
We will not rest until this medal is awarded, the work continues on behalf of the British Nuclear Veterans everyday and LABRATS will continue to fight on.