Military Vehicles in Iraq
Three Court of Appeal judges are to make a decision in the next week about whether the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq in unarmoured vehicles can pursue claims against the Government.
Private Phillip Hewett, 21, died in July 2005 when a Snatch Land Rover was blown up. The same accident also killed 2nd Lt Richard Shearer and Private Leon Spicer. Similar explosions also claimed the lives of Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath in August 2007, and Corporal Ivano Violino in September 2007.
The MOD has been accused of being negligent in failing to provide armoured vehicles. The relatives of the servicemen killed are arguing that the provision of armoured vehicles could have saved their lives.
The MOD have said that decisions about battlefield equipment are for politicians and military commanders and cannot be the subject of a negligence action.
It certainly seems a difficult case to argue against; our troops go to war and risk their lives every day; they work under tremendous pressure in extreme conditions. Is it too much to ask that the MOD protect them as far as they possibly can by providing them with sufficiently protected vehicles and armour so that the risks inherently associated with going to war are minimised? There are, of course, always going to be casualties in a war but is it not the MOD’s job to ensure that the number of these casualties is kept as low as possible and that the equipment being given to our troops does not contribute to producing them?
On the other hand, supporters of the MoD’s position will say we are fighting a war, the MOD has updated vehicles when weaknesses have been highlighted, and they have taken vehicles out of commission when they are deemed as too unsafe for our troops to use; we only need to look at the upgraded Snatch Land Rover vehicles for confirmation. Wars are inherently more dangerous now than they have ever been; can the MOD really be expected to cater for every eventuality?
There are perhaps arguments for both sides here but one thing is for certain; if the decision comes back saying that it IS possible to sue the MOD for a failure to provide armoured vehicles this may have far reaching effects on the number of military compensation claims being pursued by injured soldiers, and by relatives of those killed in service.