MoD could face legal action over Brecon Beacons heatwave deaths

An inquest has opened into the deaths of Lance Corporal Craig Roberts and newly-identified Edward Maher

A coroner has suggested that the Ministry of Defence could face legal action over two soldiers who died while undergoing the gruelling SAS selection process.

An inquest was told that post-mortem examinations had failed to identify the causes of death for the two Territorial Army soldiers.

Louise Hunt, the Powys coroner, said that article two of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees a “right to life,” would play “an important part” in the inquest.

She said: “The state has a duty to protect an individual’s life.

“The importance of looking into the wider circumstances of these deaths is that article two of the Human Rights Act will come into play.

“Any verdict must incorporate failings if any are identified.”

Paramedics were called to the Storey Arms mountain centre on 13 July, the inquest heard.

The Territorial Army serviceman who died alongside Lance Corporal Craig Roberts during an SAS selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons has been named as Edward Maher.

The pair collapsed while attempting to scale south Wales’s highest mountain, Pen Y Fan, as temperatures soared to nearly 30C on 13 July.

Naming Mr Maher for the first time, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

“Investigations are being carried out by Powys police and the army. We cannot comment any further until these investigations are complete.”

Mr Maher's family issued their own brief statement through the MoD, which read: “At this time of great sadness, Edward's family has asked that they be left alone to grieve in private.”

Powys coroner Louise Hunt is expected to open and adjourn inquests for both servicemen this afternoon.

The proceedings will include the issuing of interim death certificates for the two soldiers, allowing their families to begin preparations for their funerals.

A third soldier who was taken ill during the exercise remains in hospital.

The reservists are believed to have been taking part in the intense “Fan dance” challenge, where soldiers are required to trek up and down Pen Y Fan in a set time while carrying heavy packs and rifles.

Lance Corporal Roberts, named considerably earlier than his colleague because Mr Maher’s family initially asked for him to remain anonymous, was 24 years old and had served with the TA for more than five years, including tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a statement issued through the MoD, his father Kelvin Roberts said: “We are all devastated at the loss of our beloved Craig.

"This has left a massive hole in all our lives.

“We wholeheartedly supported Craig in his military endeavours and it gives us some comfort, though great sadness, that he died in the pursuit of his dream.

"Next month Craig was due to start a new post in the office of the Secretary of State for Education and we were all very proud of him."

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