Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Open verdict on veteran's death

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

An open verdict has been recorded on the death of a nuclear test veteran who developed cancer that his widow blamed on exposure to radiation.

Barry Smith, of Worcestershire, served as a barber with the RAF on Christmas Island in 1959.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) denies was linked to the fallout.

Mr Smith died on 20 February, aged 69 and Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams closed the case on Thursday.

Speaking after the inquest in Stourport-on-Severn, Mr Smith's widow Anna said: "I would rather that the coroner came out and said yes Barry's cancer was caused due to his service on Christmas Island.

"But I guess that would have been setting a precedent by him that he was not prepared to do."

'Journey continues'

Mr Smith was awarded a £4,500 pay out from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a serious skin complaint he developed in the last five years of his life.

His widow said the payout acknowledged his skin complaint was linked to the tests, so she cannot understand how the MoD denied the cancer link.

However, she said: "The coroner's inquest was only a step in the journey. The journey continues on."

Mrs Smith said she was waiting to be given a hearing date from the MoD relating to a tribunal her husband attended in January.

The MoD previously said there was "no evidence of excess illness or mortality" among veterans who had participated in the nuclear tests in the Pacific.

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Nuclear vet widow wants justice
29 Apr 09 |  Hereford/Worcs

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