10 Nov 2012

Supreme Court hearing set for Iraq compensation claim

The UK’s most senior judges will decide in February whether the relatives of soldiers killed whilst fighting in Iraq can pursue the government for damages.

Iraq (Reuters)

Families of a number of soliders are pursuing the government for compensation, claiming the Ministry of Defence failed to provide the proper vehicles and equipment that could have saved their loved-ones’ lives. The government contests that it is up to politicians and military leaders to make decisions over equipment used in the field of battle.

In October, the Court of Appeal ruled that the families can pursue the government for damages under claims of negligence, but not under human rights legislation as the complainants wanted.

A Supreme Court spokesman said on Saturday that a hearing date had been set for mid-February 2013, in which the families will argue for the right to pursue the government under human rights legislation.

“The appeal will be heard in the week of Monday February 18 and the hearing is expected to last up to three days,” the Supreme Court spokesman said. “Seven justices will hear the appeal. Judgment is expected to be reserved.”


Iraq vehicles (Getty)

The claims relate to the deaths of several soldiers following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In March 2003, Corporal Stephen Allbutt died in a “friendly fire” incident when his tank was hit by another.

In July 2005 Private Phillip Hewitt died after his Snatch Land Rover was blown up. Similar incidents claimed the lives of Private Lee Ellis in February 2006 and Corporal Kirk Redpath in August 2007.

Following the Court of Appeal hearing, Susan Smith, mother of Private Hewitt, called the attitude of the government “despicable”.

“They knew the vehicles were no good, but its also this dismissive attitude that it doesn’t matter. They’re like action men, if we break them we can throw them in the junk pile and no one can do anything about it, and if they’re really badly broken they can be buried.”