Press release

UK Atomic Energy Authority response to the report of the Redfern Inquiry

Feedback on the Redfern Inquiry's report on the authority's past research activities, including post-mortem radiation analysis.

The publication of this report marks the end of a long process which started in 2007. The UK Atomic Energy Authority has co-operated throughout with the Inquiry and engaged significant resources in helping Michael Redfern and the inquiry team to establish the facts.

The inquiry has established that the UK Atomic Energy Authority was involved in some analysis of tissue obtained post-mortem. This work was done for the public good to establish the effect on humans of radiation or other materials. More than 95% of the work took place 40 years ago and none took place within the last 15 years.

The overwhelming majority of this analysis [in excess of 95% of the total instances] related to the historic Strontium-90 analysis programme in the 1950s and 1960s. This was expressly sanctioned by the Prime Minister of the time, extensively reported and, to a large extent, led to the treaty in 1963 which banned atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. This work has already been carefully scrutinised and has been the subject of 2 previous Inquiries.

In addition to the above research, as one of the only organisations in the country with the capability to do the work, the UK Atomic Energy Authority conducted analysis in a handful of cases to assist the coroner or at the request of the family of the deceased to establish whether exposure to radiation had been the cause of death.

The majority of its work was as analysts, examining samples provided by others for research purposes. It rarely knew the identity of the individual from whom the sample was taken – this was likely only to be known if the analysis was at the specific request of the coroner.

The report confirms that the authority did nothing unlawful and that its activities were ethical as well as legal. To quote the report “The UKAEA’s work was not carried out secretly… The inquiry does not criticise the ethics of UKAEA’s actions in respect of the work identified… In the rare cases discussed… where the UKAEA was directly involved in arranging for the removal of organs, it appears that the organs were removed in accordance with the law”.

More information

For more information please contact:

Nick Holloway Media Manager UK Atomic Energy Authority T: 01235 466232 / 07932 637470

Chris Warrick Head of Communications United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority T: 01235 466647 / 07764 314828

Published 16 November 2010