Insurance row as soldiers are refused cover

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The Independent Online

Members of Britain's armed forces have been told by the Ministry of Defence's insurance underwriters that they are too late to insure themselves for active duty. Troops ordered to the fight against terrorism could be the first affected.

The Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, is expected to face a furore in the House of Commons because Legal & General stopped taking out new insurance cover for most of Britain's 188,000 service men and women after 21 September – 11 days after the World Trade Centre attack.

The embarrassing row could lead to a climbdown by ministers. "The papers are going up to ministers and they have been told there is a problem," said an MoD spokesman.

One army officer said it was "grossly unfair" to his soldiers. "My troops are preparing to go to war to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. They have enough on their minds without having to worry about things like this."