Nuclear test veterans finally meet a sitting Prime Minister in their fight for a medal

After years of camapaigning, nuclear test veterans and their descendants have been able to share their story with a sitting Prime Minister. Credit: Number 10 Downing Street

People affected by Britain's first nuclear testing experiments have shared their harrowing experiences with a sitting Prime Minister for the first time in their decades-long fight for recognition.

20,000 British personnel were involved in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the Pacific, during the 1950s and 1960s.

Many since reported developing health conditions such as blood cancer, and higher than usual rates of birth defects in their children - which they believe to be as a result of exposure to radiation.

Veteran John Morris did National Service in the 1950s. He and his descendants have since had health issues. Credit: ITV News

One was John Morris, from Rochdale, whose baby son suffered a cot death, which he believes could have been as a result of damage caused by the nuclear testing.

John witnessed five nuclear explosions, recalling: "I sat there with a pair of shorts, a shirt, and my hands over my eyes.

"We were just following orders... We did not know we were going to be used as an experimental guinea pig team.

"All we want now is a medal."

John and his granddaughter Laura are part of the LABRATS campaign, urging the Government to honour the nuclear test veterans' service and sacrifice with an official recognition medal.

Their campaign has now taken what they hope will be a promising step forward - after Boris Johnson agreed to meet them to hear their story.

Campaigners also showed the Prime Minister their evidence of missing medical records from their time at the tests.

Boris Johnson heard first hand accounts of the impact of nuclear testing. Credit: Number 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson acknowledged the contribution the nuclear testing programme has made to national security, saying: "These veterans epitomise the true meaning of service and their selfless commitment has allowed us to enjoy the very freedoms we have today."

He pledged to look into their calls for official recognition, adding: "It is only right that they are recognised for their service, and I have asked Ministers to explore how their dedication can be marked."

Salford MP Rebecca Long-Bailey hopes this will lead to increased medical research and financial support for nuclear test veterans.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, has been working alongside John to further their campaign in Westminster.

She said the Prime Minister "seemed to be appalled at what we told him, and I think genuinely shocked by what's happened to these men and their families."

She added: "Now we need to make sure he does deliver the justice he promised us, and to have that moment of national recognition and acknowledgement to end this scandal once and for all."

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