Christina McKelvie MSP has mounted a campaign to persuade the UK Government to follow the example of Fiji.

The Fijian Government has decided to pay compensation to veterans from the island who participated in the UK's testing of nuclear weapons. In 1957-58 the British Government conducted a series of nuclear tests in the mid-Pacific, codenamed Operation Grapple, which involved several naval vessels from Britain and New Zealand.

Said Ms McKelvie: "Hundreds of servicemen were exposed to nuclear fallout during these tests. The Ministry of Defence absolutely refuses to recognise that the cancers they have endured as a result are linked to that exposure.

"I find this astonishing. In the US and Canada, any serviceman who has suffered exposure and developed cancer has been compensated without the need to find a causal link, but the MoD refuses to accept, in spite of the evidence, that these men in the UK are being discriminated against."

Six years ago, Benjamin Browne QC, representing 1,000 ex-servicemen, said science had made a link between ill-health and the role of the soldiers in the 1950s tests. He said then that veterans were told to wait for compensation until a link was found and were being told in January 2009 that they were too late. The MoD says the tests happened too long ago for compensation to be considered.

"As the ex-servicemen get older, their chances of winning a full hearing seem to have been kicked into the long grass," says Ms McKelvie. "There are still influential people determined to ensure that these men get the compensation they so deserve. Now that the Fijian Government has said it's tired of waiting for the UK to do the right thing, I hope that we will see some action quickly."

Neil Sampson, a partner with Rosenblatt Solicitors is championing the veterans cause. He says: "I sincerely hope that the Government will meet the surviving veterans at the negotiating table very soon. Unfortunately, the surviving veterans are dying at a rate of about four people a month and very soon there will be no survivors. There are some things in life which are just wrong and successive government failure to compensate the veterans is one of those things."

Scottish Veterans Minister, Keith Brown MSP, adds: "Where it is proved that health conditions faced by veterans involved in nuclear testing have been caused by, or related to, service in the Armed Forces, regardless of when that service occurred, I call on the UK Government and the MoD to accept responsibility and act accordingly."