Judges to deliver damages decision

Banbury Cake: Judges will reveal their decision on whether the families of troops killed in Iraq can ask for damages from the Government Judges will reveal their decision on whether the families of troops killed in Iraq can ask for damages from the Government

Appeal judges are due to announce a decision on whether relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq can pursue damages claims against the Government.

The Court of Appeal announcement follows a ruling in June 2011 by a High Court judge, who said relatives could pursue claims on negligence grounds - but not under human rights legislation.

Three appeal judges in London will give their decision on a challenge by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) against Mr Justice Owen's ruling on negligence claims - and on a challenge by relatives against his findings on the human rights issue.

Relatives say the MoD failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives and should pay compensation. MoD bosses say decisions about battlefield equipment are for politicians and military commanders.

The new ruling follows a hearing in June before the then Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, Lord Justice Moses and Lord Justice Rimer.

Legal action was started as a result of the deaths of a number of British soldiers following the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, judges heard.

Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was killed in a "friendly fire" incident in March 2003. He died after a Challenger 2 tank was hit by another of the same type. Soldiers Dan Twiddy, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, and Andy Julien, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were badly hurt in the incident.

Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, died in July 2005 after a Snatch Land Rover was blown up. Similar explosions claimed the lives of Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in February 2006, and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, in August 2007.

Shubhaa Srinivasan, a partner with law firm Leigh Day & Co, which is representing the family of Cpl Allbutt and the surviving servicemen, said: "We await the verdict having fought for many years to get these claims to court.

"We maintain that the MoD's position has been morally and legally indefensible, as they owe a duty of care to those who fight on behalf of this country. British troops should at the very least have adequate equipment and training, ranging from the very basic such as a GPS devices, to sophisticated satellite tracker systems, which the Americans had available to them."

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