Wounded troops in dark on MoD claims


Dozens of maimed servicemen are either failing to claim compensation or accepting "paltry" sums from the Government because they are too proud to complain or do not know what is owed to them, campaigners said yesterday.

A lawyer representing military families said the "vast number" seeking advice had never heard of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme for those who have lost limbs or suffered brain and spinal injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency - the Government quango in charge of making payments - "rarely" contacts servicemen who have come home gravely wounded, said Andrew Buckham, of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who receive up to 30 inquiries a month from military families.

"It never fails to amaze me the numbers of soldiers, sailors and airmen who don't know about the scheme," he said.

The Tory MP James Gray, a former shadow defence minister, said: "The Armed Forces should be going out of its way to make people aware of what they are entitled to and should be as generous as they can."

If families do find out about it and apply, the sums they receive are often of little help.

The parents of L/Bdr Ben Parkinson - who lost both legs and suffered 36 other injuries when a landmine exploded in Afghanistan last September - came forward this week to condemn the "insulting" compensation he received.

Now leading charities, MPs and military lawyers are calling for the scheme - which covers a maximum of three injuries - to be looked at again to take account of those with life-altering injuries who are surviving, with the help of medical advances.

The British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association represents the 47 servicemen who lost limbs in the past six years. Jerome Church, its general secretary, said the new scheme of lump sum payments to replace War Pensions, often leaves soldiers worse off.

"These people have suffered for their country," he said, calling for a system that takes account of the bigger picture instead of one where compensation sums are reduced with each additional injury.

Irwin Mitchell has written to Derek Twigg, the minister for veterans, warning that it will take the issue to the High Court if his promised review does not offer a better deal.

Phil Cooper, whose son Jamie is the youngest British soldier wounded in Iraq, said: "I really believe the Ministry of Defence would prefer a dead soldier than an injured one because a dead one can't come back and cause trouble for them."

Why do we have to have lawyers taking a cut of any compensation?

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