Liberation of Kosovo: Compensation - Gulf mine clearer awarded pounds 2.5m

A MAN who lost a leg and was blinded after he was blown up in a mine-clearing operation in Kuwait following the Gulf War was yesterday awarded pounds 2.5m in the High Court in damages.

Paul Jefferson, 42, a de-mining expert and a former captain in the Royal Engineers, also lost a finger and most of his hearing when he trod on anti-personnel mines in an Iraqi ammunition dump in June 1991.

Mr Jefferson, of Wandsworth, south-west London endured a 90-minute drive across the desert to hospital without any morphine to dull his pain.

The settlement on the amount of damages to be paid by his then employers, Royal Ordnance plc, of Chorley, Lancashire, came at the start of what was expected to be a four-day trial in London. It followed a 1996 High Court trial on liability, during which Mr Jefferson told the court that Royal Ordnance had paid only "lip service" to the safety of its employees and expected them to scavenge for equipment to clear explosives.

He told Mr Justice Brooke at the time: "When we needed explosives or detonators to dispose of mines or warheads, we had to scavenge from oil- well heads or ammunition dumps where the Iraqis had left equipment.

"If you tried to complain about the dangers, you faced the sack."

He claimed that Royal Ordnance was negligent in not providing safety goggles or visors and should have provided medical packs.