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Troops’ relatives press claims issue through the courts

It has been revealed that senior judges have been forced to consider whether the relatives of the soldiers killed during the Iraq War are able to pursue the government for any damages or not.

The relatives of the war dead have sent written submissions to the Court of Appeal. They have also said that they are intending on seeking compensation from the government on the grounds of human rights legislation, and on the basis of negligence. Their main argument is that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to provide the right equipment for those troops on the battlefield.

However, the MoD has responded by saying that it’s not up to them to deal with battlefield equipment. They argue that it’s down to military commanders and politicians to collectively come to a decision when it comes to the equipment the troops are given.

Robert Weir, a QC, says that the relatives do have a case as the State is obliged to protect its soldiers and to take all reasonable measures to do so, even in the hazardous context of the desert battlefield of Iraq. Under these measures comes the obligation to provide the correct equipment and the right amount of training.

The main part of the relatives’ case, according to Mr. Weir, is that the MoD used Snatch Land Rovers to carry troops around. Whilst they definitely defend against any small arms fire they don’t provide a great deal of protection against roadside bombs, which are extensively used by Talaban insurgents. Mr. Weir claims that the MoD is at fault as they made the conscious decision not to deploy more-heavily armoured vehicles.

It was in June 2011 when a breakthrough was made as a High Court judge, Justice Owen, ruled in favour of the relatives of the dead, and said that they could pursue legal cases on behalf of soldiers who had died as a result of negligence. However, it was said that the relatives had no case when it came to the Human Rights Act. An appeal has been launched by lawyers acting for the relatives against the ruling on the Human Rights Act and its use.