Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:51 UK

Nuclear vet widow wants justice

Barry Smith
Mr Smith died from cancer his wife believes was caused by nuclear fallout

The widow of a Worcestershire veteran who says her husband died from cancer caused by nuclear fallout has vowed to "fight on for justice".

Barry Smith, from Bromsgrove, was based on Christmas Island in 1959 and served as a barber in the RAF as part of his military service, an inquest heard.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 and died in February, aged 69.

His wife Anna said the cancer was linked to radiation exposure, but the Ministry of Defence denied the claim.

Mr Smith's inquest was open and adjourned by a coroner in Stourport-on-Severn on Tuesday.

Compensation paid

Mrs Smith said her husband, who worked on the production line and as a clerk for Austin Rover and British Leyland, had received about £4,500 in compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a serious skin complaint.

He developed the condition five years ago, which the MoD accepted was related to his time serving in the Pacific.

He began his service on Christmas Island in 1959 - a year after nuclear tests on the island finished.

Mrs Smith said: "His skin was baked, and not by sunlight, and they paid out for that, so why won't they acknowledge he died as a result of cancer caused by his exposure to radiation?

'Vital contribution'

She said she was looking forward to the full inquest, which has been adjourned to a future date yet to be fixed, and said: "I am hoping to achieve what Barry wanted; justice for nuclear veterans who fought for this country."

Mrs Smith said her husband was affected by the radiation fallout whilst serving in Christmas Island between October 1959 and December 1960.

The MoD said the government recognised the "vital contribution" servicemen and women played in the UK's nuclear tests during the 1950s and understands its obligation to veterans.

A spokesman added: "This and previous Government's frequently stated position is that there is no evidence of excess illness or mortality among the veterans as a group which could be linked to their participation in the tests or to exposure to radiation as a result of that participation."

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