THE son of a diver killed in an oil rig accident is seeking compensation from the Norwegian government.

Stephen Lucas was 10-years-old when his father Roy, 38, died was killed in a diving bell explosion at the Byford Dolphin rig off the Norwegian coast in November 1983 Mr Lucas died alongside four other divers. It was a month before he was due to see his son and two daughters - Heidi, then 14, and Clare, eight - for the first time since he and their mother Frances had separated eight years earlier.

Claims are soon to be submitted by the families of seven British divers killed in Norwegian waters between 1960 and 1980.

Mr Lucas, 34, believes his father died because of faulty equipment and wants the Norwegian government to admit responsibility.

The North Sea Divers Alliance has uncovered a report which suggests faulty equipment was the cause.

The NSDA is putting forward the case of victims' relatives.

The families may also join a lawsuit against the Norwegian government by 24 former divers who say they were treated as "human guinea-pigs" sent to extreme depths.

Father-of-three Mr Lucas, of Seghill, Cramlington, Northumberland, said: "My dad left when I was two and I never got the chance to see him. Me and my sisters were so excited about seeing him for the first time - that was going to be in December.

"We only had one photo to remember him by."

Mr Lucas's mother had MS and died at 37 when he was 18. "I had to care for my mum when I was 15 and 16," he said. "If my dad was alive, it would have been totally different."

Mr Lucas, an unemployed agricultural worker, lives with his wife Lisa, 33, and children Billy Joe, 13, Chantelle, 10, and Stephen, eight.

He faces an obstacle in his claim.

NSDA spokesman Tom Wingen said: "To apply for compensation you need the equivalent of a British national security number, but most of the relatives of foreign divers were never given these. It is an incredibly sad story because they were never given the compensation they were entitled to."

The Norwegian government did not respond to a request to comment.

It has already offered compensation to divers who have been disabled. A statement by the Norwegian labour ministry on January 31 said: "The Norwegian state has not denied that divers have been injured as a consequence of diving in relation to the petroleum activity in the North Sea during the pioneer period. ...

"The state admits a responsibility on the basis of moral and political aspects, but does not acknowledge any legal liability."