Let’s honour the heroes in 2019
In May I met John Ward, a former reporter on the Express & Star and witness to Operation Grapple, Britain's biggest nuclear bomb test. We launched a medal campaign in the Daily Mirror to recognise the 1,500 survivors, who like John suffer cancer and unexplained medical problems in their families.
It was an amazing success - backed by new revelations uncovered by Mirror journalist Susie Boniface that the MoD used RAF pilots as unwitting guinea pigs in radiation experiments - we got 10,000 signatures on our medal petition. RAF widow Shirley Denson, who has battled for justice for decades since her husband's untimely death, was also able to meet Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and put the campaigners' case in person. This was the first time any cabinet minister has met the veterans, and I thank the Defence Secretary for his efforts.
I understand the government is in the process of a formal medal review and is also considering fresh medical research. I have urged Gavin Williamson to deliver a medal speedily as these heroes are in their 80s now, and to find a way to examine the genetic legacy their families are dealing with. I will keep the pressure up in 2019 to get justice for the veterans.