UK & World News
Iraq Soldiers' Families Win Damages Fight
Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq have won the latest round in a fight for compensation from the Government.
The Court of Appeal said families could pursue damages claims on the grounds of negligence.
Relatives say the Ministry of Defence failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives and should pay compensation.
MoD bosses say decisions about battlefield equipment are for politicians and military commanders.
A lawyer representing the families described the ruling as "an important victory".
Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, died in July 2005 after a Snatch Land Rover was blown up.
His mother, Susan Smith, told Sky News outside the court earlier: "Their argument's always been that they didn't really need to protect them because nobody could do anything about it.
"It's just been plodding on trying to get this where they recognise that soldiers have the right to life and the right to be safe in their jobs to the best of their ability.
"I think the MoD have known all along that it wasn't suitable but they just thought people would just leave it."
Legal action was started as a result of the deaths of a number of British soldiers following the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, judges heard.
Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was killed in a "friendly fire" incident in March 2003.
He died after a Challenger 2 tank was hit by another Challenger 2 tank.
Soldiers Dan Twiddy, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, and Andy Julien, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were badly hurt in the incident.
Similar explosions claimed the lives of Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in February 2006, and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, in August 2007.
The Court of Appeal announcement followed a ruling in June 2011 by a High Court judge, who said relatives could pursue claims on negligence grounds - but not under human rights legislation.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) appealed against Mr Justice Owen's ruling on negligence claims - while the relatives challenged his findings on the human rights issue.
Shubhaa Srinivasan, a partner with law firm Leigh Day & Co, which is representing the family of Cpl Allbutt and the surviving servicemen, said: "We await the verdict, having fought for many years to get these claims to court.
"We maintain that the MoD's position has been morally and legally indefensible, as they owe a duty of care to those who fight on behalf of this country.
"British troops should at the very least have adequate equipment and training, ranging from the very basic such as GPS devices, to sophisticated satellite tracker systems, which the Americans had available to them."
The MoD spokesman said: "Our thoughts and concerns remain with those that were injured and the families of those that sadly lost their lives.
"We are considering the judgment by the Court of Appeal and as this is likely to be subject to further legal action it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."
what do you think?
I am so happy for the families of these soldiers. God bless them and the troops out there still fighting
The MOD has a responsability to make sure our troops are equiped properly and that has been so for many years. To spout out that it is the responsability of politicians and military commanders is rubish. Since when have politics and corrupt MP's having any knowledge or military training to the required level to know what equipment is available and what is required. Military commanders will tell you that depending on all sorts of factors, it would govern what troops need to achieve the job in hand. For the MOD to say it is not their responsability is shamefull. In the last war if the MOD took this view and stance we would now be under German rule. Good luck to the families and hope you win
sorry for the spelling some of it is miss typing and most just me
But as usual the government dont care because it you and I who will pay through increased taxes