Advocate calls for recognition of nuclear tests campaigner Ken McGinley

Advocate calls for recognition of nuclear tests campaigner Ken McGinley

An advocate has called on Holyrood to honour a campaigner for his “tireless efforts” to obtain justice for the thousands of UK nuclear test veterans and their genetically impaired and deformed children.

In an open letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf, Ian Anderson requests that the Scottish Parliament honour Ken McGinley for his work over the decades.

Mr McGinley, who has lung and kidney cancer, was present at five nuclear bomb tests during his military service in the late 1950s. He was one of the 22,000 British and Commonwealth troops who participated in the nuclear weapons programme under Prime Minister Anthony Eden.

Mr Anderson, a non-practising member of Faculty who is based in the US, states: “Ken’s iconic campaign for justice and accountability started in November 1982 with the realization that many of his local fellow veterans at the experimental nuclear tests suffered from the same or similar health conditions as himself. This realisation ignited an ongoing 41-year accountability movement after he penned a simple letter to the readers’ page of the Daily Record in Glasgow, asking if any of its readers suffered similar health problems after such tests.”

Mr McGinley and his fellow veterans thereafter established the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association (BNTVA) in May 1983, of which he was founding chairman.

The letter adds: “In that role he worked ceaselessly for justice for the veterans, organizing a mass filing of thousands of veterans’ disability claims and fighting for their rights of access to their medical records.

“In 1985 he organised and produced evidence for the Australian Royal Commission in London which was investigating the scandalous conduct of the UK’s experimental nuclear tests. The Royal Commission subsequently produced a damning report on the UK’s lies, incompetency and utter disregard for human life and safety.”

Other legal victories followed and in 1996 “he obtained a unanimous decision of all 26 Commissioners of the European Commission of Human Rights at Strasbourg who found the UK had violated the test veterans’ human rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, by denying them access to their medical records and other documents necessary to establish disability pension claims”.

Mr McGinley, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, also obtained international backing for his cause. In Washington Senator Edward Kennedy and Corretta King, the late wife of Martin Luther King Jr, lent their support to BNTVA.

Furthermore, a peace organisation in Japan asked him to attend a memorial in 1985 in remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The letter states: “During all of this he had to endure the MOD’s ‘phone tapping intrusions into the personal home life of his family and the nagging suspicion that an MOD spy or spies had infiltrated the BNTVA. This suspicion was recently confirmed in obtained MOD documents which expressed the need to “spike McGinley’s guns” by infiltrating the BNTVA, and by MOD evaluations of received spy information.”

It concludes: “Serious illnesses may now have depleted Ken McGinley’s physical resources, but the spirit of his quest for justice and fairness for the common good will continue to grow and inspire current and future generations of Scottish people in shaping a stronger and enlightened Scottish nation.

“As such, his contribution to the moral and social fabric of this country requires to be honoured and cherished by the Scottish People and by their Scottish Parliament.”

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