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Funding gap for UK troop inquests

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
The government has not provided further funds to the coroner investigating the deaths of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the BBC has learned.

This is despite pledges to help bereaved families by cutting the length of time they must wait for an inquest.

Last year a backlog of cases built up and more funding was given to the Oxfordshire coroner.

In April, Wiltshire took over the new cases but the county's service has not yet received any more funds.

BBC correspondent Angus Crawford said Wiltshire's coroner, its county council and its chief constable have all requested more funds.

But they have been told they will have to make their case at a meeting in the autumn.

The bodies of more than 30 service personnel have been flown to Wiltshire so far.

In October the former constitutional affairs minister - now Labour deputy leader - Harriet Harman said the backlog of inquest cases was "unacceptable" and would be "sorted out".

Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire County Council, fears there could be problems ahead for families of the bereaved.

She said: "I am surprised they haven't learned their lesson from Oxfordshire and they just haven't reflected it in funding in Wiltshire when we wrote to them saying that we would have the same pressures on our service as Oxfordshire did."

More than 220 UK service personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since operations began in both countries.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6294112.stm
 
#2
Is anyone surprised?

Who controlled the purse-strings for the last ten years?

Who controls the purse-strings today?

Soldiers are of no consequence or importance to the 'controller'.
 
#3
All the more reason why all service personnel need an independent advocate in the way of BAFF. This should never be happening importantly it should never have happened. This government seems to wish to treat service personnel like civilians when saving money but the reverse when paying the costs of its service personnel. This is a shameful way for this government to treat service personnel. If it wishes to pay low rates of pay for doing this most dangerous job with the high risk of losing life itself then it should support fully those who volunteer to do it. Its called a COVENANT which our politicians will not honour until they are on the floor in a half nelson. It was noticable that there is no intention in parliament to enshrine in law a covenant of service for our service personnel.
 
#4
This is an extract from a recent article in The Times which sums up this governments attitude to its service personnel. Why is it necessary for local officials to go public on this if government ministers really have a grip on this important welfare provision? They don't have a clue of how you should treat service personnel who are risking their lives every day and importantly their bereaved relatives afterwords.

'In China under Mao Tse-tung the families of condemned men were forced to pay for the bullet that would kill their father or their son. I was reminded of that exquisite little cruelty by the government’s confession last Monday that the bereaved families of troops killed in Iraq have been forced to pay hundreds of pounds to get access to the official records of their children’s deaths.
These documents are freely available to the army and to the coroner, but shocked and grieving families had to find the money. Apparently these large sums were to cover the cost of photocopying done by the coroner’s officials; one man had to pay £600. It is not enough, clearly, to sacrifice one’s husband or child: one has to pay to learn about their deaths. Harriet Harman said she was “surprised”.

It would be nice to think that this was an unusual error — a bureaucratic blip — and that the armed forces and their families are normally treated with the respect and gratitude they deserve. Not so. In fact the way that servicemen and women are treated is almost an object lesson in how to mismanage and demoralise what was once one of the greatest military forces in the world. This has been obvious for a long time but we seem to have reached some sort of tipping point.'
 
#5
After this kick up the bum the government have now announced that money will be available and the Wiltshire County Council only need to ask. The question is why did they need to kick up such a fuss. Was it because they thought they were being ignored and funding would not be available without going public. I bet they asked but were given the run around.
 
#6
Heard a good one on radio news. Harriet Harman denies there is a backlog in the Coroner's courts in Oxfordshire dealing with inquests for soldiers killed in Iraq. Next item of news is the Coroner's report on the case involving the blue on blue with CR2's in 2003. No backlog of course, it normally takes 4 years to complete a Coroner's Court case....
 
#8
Skynet said:
Does anyone know how long is the average wait for a coroners inquest UK wide is?
Would be interesting to find out. If it's prolonged then there's no story. If it's fairly quick in most cases but takes longer for some cases then maybe there is a story.

Having had a check of the web it seems there should only be an inquest if either a)cause of death is unsure after a post mortum or b)the reason why the person in question died is unclear

In which case the blue on blue in the press today should have had an inquest to determine the reasons why the deaths occurred. However, this doesn't explain why these cases are taking so long to get into court and why so many cases are jammed up in the courts. Surely an obvious case of death by enemy action shouldn't take that long to deal with, or are this cases whipping through unreported by the national press?
 
#9
This is an area which i have had little experience but it would seem on the face of it that we need extra resources and special courts to deal with the needs of the military. Three or in some cases four years seems to be a long wait before families can get final closure?
 
#11
Kitmarlowe said:
Skynet said:
Does anyone know how long is the average wait for a coroners inquest UK wide is?
Would be interesting to find out. If it's prolonged then there's no story. If it's fairly quick in most cases but takes longer for some cases then maybe there is a story.
True, but if there is/was no problem why did the government previously say it would provide more funds?

Incidentally, an inquest is required by law in various circumstances:

Sudden death (?cause)
Violent death
Unnatural death
Death in custody

There are legal definitons of the above, but it's easy to see why inquests are invariably held on those killed on ops.
 
#13
Hi jonwilly
Thanks very much for that. I must say I have not heard of cases were none military cases are having to wait three or even four years for an inquest. With this governments track record of Targets, critical success factors and performance indicators there must be an average time for an inquest? Do I get the impression that like the wars little in the way of preparation was made to deal with military casualties and the consequences to NOK are now being clearly seen? Do we have an expert out there?
 
#14
Can anyone explain to me how we managed inquests on the 700,000 British servicemen killed in the First World War, 300,000 killled in the Second, 300 odd in Korea or for that matter the 250 or so killed in the Falklands?

What's that?

"We didn't have any because they were killed in action by the enemy".

Oh I SEE!
:roll:

What on earth is the point of this whole futile exercise? Why does it require some suit in Oxfordshire to say that yes, after all our enquiries we can confirm what the MOD has told us, Trooper Bloggs died from a gunshot wound inflicted by persons unknown whilst engaged in Combat operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan? I could understand it while we were involved in Nothern Ireland but this is a bit different surely?
I'm not normally in favour of making or re-writing laws on the hoof but the relevant legislation needs a tweak here I reckon. I can't see how this situation ( the legal requirement for an inquest) benefits anybody, least of all the famililes of the deceased who have to wait months to be told something that would previously have been explained in a letter from the CO? :?

Surely, except in clearly exceptional circumstances, a Board of Inquiry could be covened "in Theatre", consisting of,say, a member of the Army Legal Services and selected Officers from the formation HQ which could examine promptly the circumstances of the death and publish their findings in pretty short order, and which would be sufficient for the families needs?
 
#15
Jaeger said:
"We didn't have any because they were killed in action by the enemy".

Oh I SEE!
:roll:

What on earth is the point of this whole futile exercise?
But a lot of them haven't been killed by the 'enemy' have they?

It is suggested that the two tank crewmen whose inquests were completed yesterday died as a result of an officer's negligence.

There were serious questions about equipment shortages when the RMP massacre took place.

Many more soldiers have been murdered by terrorists rather than killed in action.

Some sort of inquiry is surely required when deaths occur in circumstances like these.
 
#16
Jaeger wrote:
"We didn't have any because they were killed in action by the enemy".

Oh I SEE!


What on earth is the point of this whole futile exercise?

But a lot of them haven't been killed by the 'enemy' have they?

It is suggested that the two tank crewmen whose inquests were completed yesterday died as a result of an officer's negligence.

There were serious questions about equipment shortages when the RMP massacre took place.

Many more soldiers have been murdered by terrorists rather than killed in action.

Some sort of inquiry is surely required when deaths occur in circumstances like these.
Well. firstly "blue on blue" incidents have been a feature of warfare since time immemorial and will continue to be so as long as wars happen. I'm pretty sure it happened numerous times in the conflicts I mentioned previously. A Board of Enquiry consisting of officers from the relevant Service convenes, gathers the facts, apportions blame where applicable and makes recommendations in the hope of preventing a reoccurence, no need for a Coroners inquest IMHO. As far as the deaths of the six RMP lads go, I saw no need for a UK coroner to get involved in the deaths on active service of UK troops in a foreign country. If there were logistical, organisational or operational shortcomings they are best addressed by the Army, not a civilian coroner who will be unlikely to have the experience or insight needed to adjudicate on the matter.

There's a real danger here if this tendency for civilan involvement in Military opearations continues, that officers and NCO's will find themselves being sued in civilian courts and having to answer qustions about tactical decisions taken in the heat of battle. I mean questions such as "Why did you decide to go left rather than right flanking on this attack" or "Why did you send 1 section into that house when you knew there were Taliban in there, didn't you care that one of them might be killed?!

No, this is a worrying development and no good will come of it I'm sure.
 
#17
Jaeger said:
Jaeger wrote:
"We didn't have any because they were killed in action by the enemy".

Oh I SEE!


What on earth is the point of this whole futile exercise?

But a lot of them haven't been killed by the 'enemy' have they?

It is suggested that the two tank crewmen whose inquests were completed yesterday died as a result of an officer's negligence.

There were serious questions about equipment shortages when the RMP massacre took place.

Many more soldiers have been murdered by terrorists rather than killed in action.

Some sort of inquiry is surely required when deaths occur in circumstances like these.
Well. firstly "blue on blue" incidents have been a feature of warfare since time immemorial and will continue to be so as long as wars happen. I'm pretty sure it happened numerous times in the conflicts I mentioned previously. A Board of Enquiry consisting of officers from the relevant Service convenes, gathers the facts, apportions blame where applicable and makes recommendations in the hope of preventing a reoccurence, no need for a Coroners inquest IMHO. As far as the deaths of the six RMP lads go, I saw no need for a UK coroner to get involved in the deaths on active service of UK troops in a foreign country. If there were logistical, organisational or operational shortcomings they are best addressed by the Army, not a civilian coroner who will be unlikely to have the experience or insight needed to adjudicate on the matter.

.
That's the bit that makes me nervous. Given the recent spate of juniors offered up to the courts, right or wrong, and the surprising lack of officers appearing in Civilan Courts I somehow doubt the willingness of a section of senior officers to be truthful where their own or collegue's careers are on the line. Case in point. Spencer Fitz-Gibbon makes it clear in his work on Goose Green that some interviewees admitted that they had lied, and would continue to lie on order to protect to protect the reputations of the dead , the living and the regiment. No one was being sued, facing court or at any risk to their future but they admitted lying whilst being questioned about the battle in order to write regimental histories and update doctrine. I'd have thought that the lifes of future soldiers in war were more important than the reputation of anybody, living or dead.
 
#18
While I understand your concerns about the Army judging its own actions I have to agree with Jaeger. A civilian coroner not only lacks an understanding of any of the tactics, techniques and procedures involved there is also no way he understands the pressures and constraints placed upon a commander on operations.

I found the comments made by the coroner yesterday to be incredibly arrogant. He is making comments about an individual who was in a situation he can't even begin to understand and yet saw fit to call into question his suitability for command, even though he has been judged suitable for promotion by people with a much better understanding of his capabilities.

Coroners have no business making judgements on deaths on operations and the Army will benefit far more from the results of the Board of Enquiry than they will from the comments of an individual with no idea what he is talking about.
 
#19
LEGZ30 said:
Army will benefit far more from the results of the Board of Enquiry than they will from the comments of an individual with no idea what he is talking about.


That piece would make me extremely nervous, the Board of Enquiry is just another, oh what are the words again 'JOBS FOR THE OLD BOY NETWORK'.

Nope, the words above are incorrect: 'KANGAROO COURT', thats it

They tend to lean, more towards biased...........................

The truth will NOT, will out in the end. They might have all the understanding/experience in the world, that a coroner may lack, however - it will be very dodgy ground with a 'Board of Enquiry'; Whaaaaaat, what 'ole boy?
 

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