Anger at MoD delays over scientist's inquest

The family of a Ministry of Defence scientist who died during secret explosives testing hit out yesterday at alleged "inadequate" safety procedures and delays in getting answers.

Terry Jupp's family have had to wait eight years for his inquest to begin. As it did so yesterday, jurors heard about a married father-of-two whose secretive work was probably "instrumental in saving many lives".

At the beginning of an inquest in Southend, expected to last four weeks, Coroner Dr Peter Dean complimented the Jupp family on the "tremendous determination and dignity" shown during a "long and difficult process". He explained to jurors that the family had to endure a five-year wait while the case went through the criminal courts and four postponements to the inquest.

Mr Jupp suffered 60 to 90 per cent burns after an explosion at a testing station near Shoeburyness, Essex, on 14 August 2002. The 46-year-old employee of the Defence, Scientific and Technological Laboratory (DSTL) was taken to hospital, but died six days later.

Dr Dean explained to jurors that due to the "sensitivity and highly classified nature" of Mr Jupp's work, some of the evidence would have to be held in private, while at other times codes and ciphers would be used to protect information and personnel.

Prior to the first witness being called, the coroner read out three family statements. Mr Jupp's elderly parents, Roy and Anne, said the family believed there were "serious safety issues" surrounding his death, suggesting that there were "inadequate" precautions despite Mr Jupp's own high safety standards.

In her statement, Mr Jupp's wife, Pat, described her anguish as her husband deteriorated in hospital following the blast. She explained how she had to deal with his failing health while also trying to explain it to his two children, Katie and Matthew, then aged 15 and 11.

Charges of gross negligent manslaughter were brought against two men, only to be dropped later.