From The Telegraph today: Military 'could have avoided Iraq boat deaths' Last Updated: 2:31am GMT 21/11/2007 Four British military troops were unlawfully killed in an "entirely avoidable" incident in Iraq when insurgents blew up their boat with a remote-controlled bomb, a coroner ruled. Ex-Army chief Jackson warns on cash crunch The four died on the Shatt al-Arab on Nov 12 last year when a makeshift explosive mounted on a bridge was detonated as the boat passed underneath. advertisementAn inquest in Oxford has heard that the deaths may have been avoided if the Royal Marines boat had been equipped with an electronic counter measure, a device that prevents such bombs being detonated. There were plenty of the kits in theatre at the time but the boat did not have one. The hearing was also told that the bridge where the bomb was planted was not searched before the boat went underneath. The coroner Andrew Walker said this amounted to "a really serious failure to follow basic procedure" by the Royal Marines. Those killed were: Warrant Officer Lee Hopkins, 35, of the Royal Corps of Signals, a married father of one from Wellingborough, Northants; Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, 34, of the Intelligence Corps, originally from Ipswich, Suffolk; Corporal Ben Nowak, 27, of 45 Commando Royal Marines, from Speke, Liverpool; and Marine Jason Hylton, 33, of 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, a divorced father of two from Burton upon Trent, Staffs. The coroner said: "This was an entirely avoidable incident if the basic principles (of military training) had been followed." He recorded verdicts of unlawful killing. The murders were filmed and the footage later broadcast on Iraqi TV. Family members were shown the film privately on Monday. Only seen this report, but it annoys me that Coroners with absolutely no idea of how we do business can make these comments. What right has he to say that it was 'entirely avoidable if the basic principles of military training had been followed'? Everyone knew Pink 16 was a VP - had the guys VP'd that day they would, in all liklehood, have been killed as the IED was set off anyway. Setting a pattern of VPing the bridge would have encouraged another form of attack. A very sad event and possibly MND should have looked further ahaed and decided that boats were too vunerable, but that is a very 20/20 hindsight perspective. Any inference from the coroner that the booties had fialed to do their job properly is out of order. The bravery shown by the crews in the aftermath of the event is testament to them and that is what should be highlighted.