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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cytogenetic Analysis of UK Veterans - The Truth Behind the Lies

Disinformation is been being touted about on the internet by a small group of malcontent’s who over the years have decried any effort by the BNTVA to improve the situation of our members, they sit in judgement of our accountable democratic organisation, despite the fact their number could scarcely form a jury.

Their hollow rally cry is “compensation through litigation”, which they profess will be magically achieved if the research resulting in the 2007 Rowland's report is simply copied in the UK. They go on to accuse the BNTVA of refusing an offer of the MOD to replicate this research.

Back in 2010 they were equally crowing that the Health Needs Audit would undermine the litigation and achieve nothing. They were wrong then and they are wrong again. Their utterly false, misleading assertions say more about the petty motives driving these few individuals in their attempts to wreck the membership mandated BNTVA Recognition Campaign.

As many of our members are aware the allegation and statement about replication is quite untrue. It is for those who have unwittingly come across these lies that we have a duty to ensure they do not fall for the deceit.

Kevan Jones, whilst the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, fully accepted the findings of Rowland's 2007 report “New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Study – a Cytogenetic Analysis”. This clearly negated any need to attempt replication and indeed opened the door to the investigation of science to examine the relationship between test attendance and ill-health in both the veteran and their progeny.

In his own words when speaking in April 2009 Kevan Jones said.

"The Government have been actively engaging with the concerns expressed by our nuclear test veterans that they and their offspring have been adversely affected by their participation in the British nuclear tests of the 1950s and 1960s.

The wider published peer-reviewed epidemiological evidence to date has not demonstrated a general link between veterans’ ill-health and participation in the tests. Similarly there is no peer-reviewed evidence suggesting that their children and grandchildren are at increased risk of genetic abnormalities.

The Government are, however, determined to address the ongoing concerns of nuclear test veterans. I had a constructive meeting with the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) and interested MPs on Monday 20 April. I am pleased to report that the BNTVA have agreed to help identify a representative sample of veterans and their descendants with a view to conducting an assessment of their health needs. I therefore announce today an intention that the Ministry of Defence will work with veterans and experts to finalise the details of research to investigate the particular health needs of nuclear test veterans and their offspring with a view to identifying priorities and taking action to improve health. I also intend some follow-up to last year’s New Zealand chromosome study. The aim will be for projects to be of practical relevance to veterans with results delivered to a reasonable time scale. The work will be tendered in the normal manner and should be under way before the end of this year. A working group including representatives from the BNTVA will be established to take these projects forward."

From this we can see the 'offer' to replicate Rowland's work was never made so it is an outright absurdity to claim we declined it.

The BNTVA did not just take this at face value, we sought a second opinion from the renown Brunel University who confirmed that the science we were looking for just did not exist. Brunel went further to provide a reasoned conclusion regarding the feasibility of even attempting to replicate a Rowland's study with the UK veterans population. This assessment was that even just using the original study exclusion criteria, identifying a meaningful cohort would be almost impossible. Further exclusion criteria would also need to be established relating to additional radioactive fallout over the UK during some of the tests and the levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) in various geographic areas of the UK.

All this whilst bearing in mind that the government had already accepted the genetic translocation phenomenon as detailed in the original report.

In debunking the malicious claims we should also note that even the authors of the original report were emphatic regarding health effects: “We wish to emphasise, however, that the current study makes no claims on the health status of the veterans. This study concentrates on the genetic status of the Experimental (veterans) group.

Here are the eight exclusion criteria of the original study:
1) Service in a theatre of war or nuclear-related area
2) Exposure to toxic substances 1 for a year or more
3) Having received radiation treatment or chemotherapy
4) Aged over 75 (to avoid confounding effects of age)
5) Air Force aircrew (exposed to cosmic radiation, confounding nuclear radiation exposure)
6) Too ill to participate
7) Death subsequent to survey completion, and
8) Resident in the South Island.
The final criteria only related to the expense of travelling to collect samples and data.

The average age of the New Zealand Veterans when studied was 65.9 the average age of our veterans is much higher and many would be excluded under criteria 4.

We revisited this issue in early 2014 and all the original findings were again confirmed, including the non availability of robust, reviewable scientific techniques to link health status in veterans or their progeny with the tests. The only realistic action that could be undertaken at this time would be a harvest and preservation of samples for analysis should the science become available in the distant future. It must be stressed the BNTVA is not against this but we are emphatic that it must not be at the expense expediting the Benevolent Fund.

Returning to 2009, having established our supposed rejection of replicating Rowland's is an outright lie and that the science is not available to link health and tests, we took the only course open to advance the lot of our veterans; We sought and gained conference approval to work with the MOD and its contractors on the Health Needs Analysis project. The project met the criteria stipulated by Kevan Jones “ The aim will be for projects to be of practical relevance to veterans with results delivered to a reasonable time scale”.

The benefits derived from the HNA include: accelerated access to health care for veterans, briefing of every medical professional in the UK on issues affecting NTV's, identification of the BNTVA as the point of contact for information exchange on NTV health issues and the identification and scale of the actual health and wellbeing conditions our veterans face.

This did not end the issue of research into veterans but we had garnered enough material to begin to formulate a campaign to actually do something meaningful for them and their descendents. This lead to the creation of the Recognition Campaign.

Turning to the availability of science there is a great UK project to decode 100,000 human genomes by 2017. This will provide a resource that can be used for research which will investigate hereditary conditions and should provide the link from the work by Prof Al Rowland to the health of Veterans and their progeny. Information on this can be found HERE.

Prof Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I can see a future where genetics is going to come into every bit of medicine from cardiology to oncology to infectious diseases. There are already targeted therapies for some breast, lung, bowel and blood cancers; twenty years from now there's going to be a plethora of those (therapies)." The salient point here is “Twenty years from now”, by that time there will be no veterans alive, even the second generation may be thin on the ground.

The Geonome Project means that actual research would not commence until 2017 at the earliest. We have to ask: How many more veterans will have passed away struggling with the effects of austerity on their care and support, how many children and grandchildren will go without support and have to suffer the conditions visited on them by this 'Great Adventure'?

There are rumours that the Government may offer further research into the health of veterans and their descendents, certainly Kevan Jones left this option on the table. We would welcome any research that may enhance the understanding and treatment of our veterans and their families however this must not in any way impact on the timing or value of the Benevolent Fund.

Our veterans and their children have lived as guinea pigs for 60 years. Governments have prospered on the information garnered from their covert monitoring programmes throughout that time. Revelations about these programmes continue to surface, the latest horror being the collecting of bones from veterans dead babies.

Enough is enough and anyone who advocates the continuation of 'Scientific meddling' at the expense of actually addressing the daily problems our people live with, is utterly contemptible and inhuman.

The science will take years to prove what we already know. We don't need science to prove it gets dark when you turn out the light. So lets turn that light on to the suffering visited on veterans and their children, do the right thing and get the Benevolent fund in place now.

Interim report of the findings of the BNTVA Snapshot Survey into NTV Family health.

On the 29th June 2014 The BNTVA launched a 'Snapshot survey' to capture, in layman's terms, the general health status across British Nuclear Test Veteran's (NTV)family trees.

The concept is to produce an overview of the levels of health problems present in each generation of NTV family groups. This information could then be used to illustrate major differences in the health and wellbeing NTV families experience contrasted to that of the general population.

Survey Operation

Using a self reporting internet survey tool combined with a manual form return the survey looks at the following basic questions.

Respondents relation to a British Nuclear Test Veteran.
Email address
For each generation of the family, the number of:
Children conceived
Congenital defects
Serious Illness
Significant Illness

The respondent had to categorise the health of their individual family members with the following guidance:

  • Congenital Defect is a health condition present at birth or within the first month of life, usually caused by genetic abnormality.
  • Serious Illness is an illness or condition which requires daily or continuing treatment as certified by a health care provider.
  • Significant Illness is an illness or condition which does not require regular medical treatment but impacts on your ability to enjoy a full healthy lifestyle

By 21st July data had been collected on over 140 family groups which was collated and processed to produce the interim results, duplications were validated and the incorrect data discounted as was duplication of family tree data by different family members.

The progression of this activity produced the following results which, where possible, have been contrasted with levels published by other bodies.

Generational Results

Breakdown Number of Children Conceived by Generation

Veteran 415
1st Generation 504
2nd Generation 132

Number of Miscarriage and Stillbirths per Generation
(Stillbirth rate: SANDS 1:200 = 0.5% Miscarriage Rate: NHS 1:8 = 12.5% thus 13% combined is reasonable expectation)

Veteran 81 (19.52%)
1st Generation 80 (15.87%)
2nd Generation 12

Number of Live Births per Generation

Veteran 334
1st Generation 424
2nd Generation 120

Number of Children with Health Problems per Generation
(as a % of Live Births per generation)

Veteran 206 (61.68%)
1st Generation 154 (36.32%)
2nd Generation 33 (27.50%)

Number of Children with Congenital or Serious Health Problems per Generation
(as a % of Live Births)
(2011 BINOCAR Statistic – 1:46 apx 2.2% Congenital Defect Rate. EUROCAT rate = 2%)

Veteran 122 (36.53%)
1st Generation 82 (19.34%)
2nd Generation 16 (13.33%)

Overall Picture

Each veteran family tree has an average of 6.2 descendents. They suffer:

Miscarriage/Still birth 173 (16.46%)
Health Problems 394 (44.87%)
Congenital Defects / Serious Illness 221 (25.17%)

Continuation of the snapshot survey

The survey will continue until the latter end of 2014, Because the majority of BNTVA members do not have internet access a manual survey form has been sent out to them and these will take a number of weeks to return to enable data validation and entry. Once all the data is in we will produce the final report.


At the intermediate stage it was believed that the details of 140 families would enable a clear view of the disparity between NTV families and the general public. As the data is returned from the membership we have a potential of almost 1000 returns.

If we accept around 21,000 British Service personnel attended the tests and they procreated to the level experienced in the interim survey then there are a potential 130,000 descendents. Of these some 32,000 could be suffering Serious Health or Congenital problems and over 56,000 people could be enduring some form of health issue affecting their daily lives. This more than likely the current legacy of British Nuclear Testing.

Applicable Legislation
This survey is not a scientific or medical experimentation. All data is managed by the BNTVA in accord with our strict data protection policy compliant with the UK DPA 88. All personal data will be deleted on completion of the final survey report.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Nuclear test veterans STILL waiting on £25million compensation fund as David Cameron suns himself

A new study reveals shocking figures about the fate of the children of British servicemen exposed to the nuclear weapons test

Shocking research has exposed the devastating toll Britain’s nuclear tests have inflicted on unsuspecting servicemen in the danger zone.
Legacy: David Purse was exposed to British Nuclear testing at Maralinga, Australia (pic Sunday Miror)

Children born to the 22,000 British troops sent to witness blasts in the South Pacific had 16 TIMES the normal rate of birth defects and the men’s partners suffered 50 PER CENT more ­miscarriages and stillbirths, a new study reveals.
The news comes five months after Prime Minister David Cameron promised to consider setting up a £25million fund for survivors and families. 

In the 158 days since he made the pledge, the PM has found time to holiday in Lanzarote, Portugal and Cornwall.

Meanwhile, veteran Bill Clarkson, who was ordered to pick up radioactive debris, has died aged 84 of a rare leukaemia and 19-month-old Ella Denson, whose great-grandfather Eric was ordered to fly his RAF plane through a bomb’s mushroom cloud, has been hospitalised with a kidney defect.

Bill and Eric were among servicemen exposed to horrific levels of radiation as Britain set off nuclear blasts.

A flood of resulting claims of disease, miscarriages and deformed children has been contested by ­successive governments. 

Now a study for the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association has revealed the appalling toll on their health and the legacy of damage passed to future generations.

The research showed 36 per cent of veterans report birth defects in their ­children, against a national average of 2.2 per cent.

The figure is nearly 20 per cent for their grandchildren and 13 per cent for great-grandchildren.

MP John Baron, who met the PM for the association, said: “Given the veterans’ unique service, we owe them.”

Gentic mutation: Steve Purse, 40, is still paying the price of nuclear testing today (pic Daily Mirror)

Case study: Hero dad's legacy of pain

When Steve Purse was born his limbs were stunted, his spine was curved and one leg was bent 45 degrees the wrong way. Forty years later, doctors still cannot say exactly what’s wrong.

He said: “It’s an extremely rare genetic mutation and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact I will never have children – I wouldn’t want to pass it on.”

His dad David, 70, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s, was a flight lieutenant in charge of the airfield at Maralinga, Australia, where British scientists exploded a series of atomic detonators in the 1960s.

While not as big as the nuclear bombs, the toxic fall-out from detonators is thought to have been worse.

Student Steve cannot straighten his arms, needs crutches or a wheelchair, has underdeveloped lungs and as a child suffered from fluid on the brain.

Steve, 40, who lives in Neston, Cheshire, said: “I want the Government to acknowledge it put those men in harm’s way and that it affected their families.
“My whole life has been crafted by my condition. We deserve a ‘sorry’ at the very least.”

Article by Susie Boniface in the Sunday Mirror 14 Sep 2014


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Nuclear test veterans campaign to secure £25m charitable fund - ITV

Nuclear test veterans are campaigning to secure a £25m pound charitable fund for them and their descendants.

Pic: ITV
Thousands of servicemen were exposed to radiation during weapon tests in the 1950s and many say it's affected their own health as well as their family's. The Government argues this has yet to be proved.

Dominic Owen's father was in the RAF, and was exposed to radiation at nuclear tests in Australia in the 1950s.

Dominic, who lives in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, believes his late father's exposure to radiation caused has serious congenital health problems, and says the fund would be a good start.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Veterans feel betrayed by 'final word' decision on historic medals claims

More on the Government betrayal of British Veterans in The Independent by Jonathan Owen and Rosie Shields

British veterans from wars and conflicts around the world have lost a battle for recognition of their service to Crown and country. A decision by Ministry of Defence officials, that only some of the hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women who served in conflicts and operations ranging from Aden and Suez to the Berlin Airlift should be awarded medals, has provoked a bitter row.

Tony Morland, co-chairman of the National Defence Medal Campaign, said: "I am, as are many thousands of others, extremely disappointed by the decisions that have made in respect of the medal review. It is completely arbitrary. The whole point of the review was to bring some consistency to how decisions are made and in that they have failed."

Read the full article HERE

The review also concludes that its decision should be the final word on the subject.

"No other historic claims for medallic recognition will now be reviewed, unless significant new evidence is produced that suggests that an injustice has been done"

BNTVA: Apart from Veterans who's lives have been shortened and riddled with illness is the injustice of seeing the heritage of their exposure to radiation causing birth defects and serious illness in their children and grandchildren significant enough?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Whitehall medal snub for millions of veterans on eve of First World War centenary

Millions of veterans of the Armed Forces have been denied a medal to recognise their service on the eve of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, The Telegraph can disclose.
Veterans’ groups have been campaigning for a National Defence Medal which would reward members of the Armed Forces who served for more than two years.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, commissioned a review in May 2012 into the merits of the medal, as well as claims for recognition by veterans in other conflicts.  The final results of the review, which were published without fanfare last week, found that it was too expensive to proceed with the Medal. 

Veterans groups, who feel that their service has never been recognised by the Government, have long campaigned for a National Defence Medal. 

Campaigners – backed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - wanted the medal to be awarded to anyone who served more than two years national service or for four years service in total. 

In the US and New Zealand members of the armed forces can earn a medal after serving for three years. In Australia the qualifying period is four years. But in the UK the regular servicemen can only earn a long service and good conduct medal for 15 years’ service. 

A Cabinet Office report estimated five million former and ex-servicemen, including two million who did National Service in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, would have qualified for a National Defence Medal. 

The report said that offering a National Defence Medal retrospectively would “deal with past grievances for example of national servicemen, Cold War veterans and others whose service was never recognised in medallic form”.
The report was “out of line with most of those countries with whom we serve closely, although this is consistent with the traditionally parsimonious attitude to military medals which has long characterised the UK”. 

BNTVA :The decisions made on a misinterpreted costings basis from this review, has let down generations of British Service Personnel including our British Nuclear Test Veterans, who were seeking a bar to this medal.  

 Read the full story by Christopher Hope in The Telegraph HERE

Saturday, 26 July 2014

We lost 21 babies: Terrible legacy of nuclear bomb tests for two mothers

More coverage of the real issues behind the story of our Nuclear Test Veterans and their families.

More evidence supporting the need for a benevolent fund to address health and wellbeing problems wrought on British Servicemen and their families.

Blighted: Margaret and Sharon and veteran Michael in 1966 (inset)  
Every day these two mothers live with the tragic legacy of nuclear bomb tests half a world away and half a century ago.
Margaret Pontin and daughter Sharon Harris have five children between them, all with severe health problems.
But the heartache goes even deeper, as between them the women have suffered 21 miscarriages which they blame on a radioactive legacy of genetic damage the Government still denies.
Margaret’s husband Michael Watson was present at half a dozen nuclear bomb tests. He was a national serviceman in his early 20s when he was sent to Maralinga in Australia, where British scientists were testing atomic bombs in the late 1950s.

Read the complete story by Susie Boniface in the Mirror HERE