Injured soldiers sue MoD over minefield orders (UK ' Afghanistan)

28.02.2007 - Three British soldiers who lost their legs after being ordered into an Afghan minefield are suing the Ministry of Defence, it was reported today.


The men claim that their senior officers knew the valley they had been sent to clear was heavily mined, but did not pass on any warnings.

They also claim that a paratrooper who died in the incident in September last year was killed because the MoD failed to send an appropriate craft to rescue the stranded unit.

Despite repeated requests for a small vehicle, military chiefs despatched a large Chinook helicopter, which was not equipped with a winch to lift the men to safety, it is claimed.

The downdraft of the craft's propellers set off the mines which killed Corporal Mark Wright, according to the Sun newspaper.
Cpl Wright, 27, from Edinburgh, was awarded a posthumous George Cross for attempting to save the life of a fellow paratrooper before his death.

In total six people were injured in the operation near the Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last year, on one of the blackest days for the British force in Afghanistan.

The three soldiers - named as Lance Corporal Stuart Hale, 24; Corporal Stuart Pearson, 31, and Fusilier Andy Barlow, 20 - are seeking compensation for their injuries.

An MoD spokesman confirmed that compensation claims had been submitted but said it could not confirm the names of the plaintiffs. "Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation, we do so," he said.

In December Government lawyers ruled that British servicemen injured in Iraq and Afghanistan should be classed as victims of crime not war, opening the door to sizeable compensation claims.

All those injured fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who have decided to remain in the Army, could be entitled to lodge claims with the newly revised Armed Forces' Criminal Injury Compensation (overseas) scheme.

This is similar to that run by the Home Office, which makes payments to the victims of crimes such as muggings, rape, burglary and robbery.

Von: 28.02.2007 By Matthew Moore and PA

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