MoD criticised over Nimrod death compensation battle

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The Independent Online

The father of a soldier killed when an RAF Nimrod exploded over Afghanistan criticised the Ministry of Defence today for making the battle for compensation "as difficult as possible".





Lance Corporal Oliver Dicketts, of the Parachute Regiment, died with 13 others when the Nimrod blew up in 2006, moments after mid-air refuelling when a fire broke out on the plane.



Today, the 27-year-old's parents, Robert and Priscilla Dicketts, who live in Horsmonden, Kent, were awarded £100,000 each after a two-day hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, law firm Irwin Mitchell said.



Irwin Mitchell, who represented the couple, said it was a "record sum" and the maximum level of compensation.



In a statement released after a jury ruled in the parents' favour, Mr Dicketts said: "On December 4, 2007 the then secretary of defence, Des Browne, stood up in front of us, the victims' families, and apologised to us for what happened to Nimrod XV230. He went on to say that they accepted 100% liability, that compensation would be paid to all the families and that he wished for it to be dealt with 'as quickly as possible'.



"However, since that date the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and their lawyers have made this process as difficult as possible for all of us, causing considerable distress and anguish in their attitudes which seems to have been an attempt to get us just to accept whatever figure they proposed with no consideration for us as individuals.



"They have shown no understanding of our grief or suffering and, in doing so, have only served to make it worse."



Mr Dicketts also criticised the way the MoD communicated with him, his wife and the families of other victims.



He said: "I hope that, by making this statement, lessons will be learnt so that families who have lost loved ones in the service of their country are treated with more respect and consideration and, more importantly, as individuals by those at the MoD."



An inquest in 2008 saw coroner Andrew Walker conclude that the aircraft was not airworthy.



A subsequent independent review by aviation law barrister Charles Haddon-Cave published last year was critical of the MoD and its industrial partners at both organisational and individual levels.



Mrs Dicketts, 62, said: "Oliver was my life, my pride, my joy and my only child. I would have given anything and everything for him to still be with us now. Robert and I allowed Oliver to become who he was, and he did what he wanted with our blessing. And for that, we are proud of our son.



"But the past four years have been heartbreaking. Having been told by the coroner that the plane was 'not airworthy' has been almost too much to bear."



Mr Dicketts, 66, said he wanted to thank the team at Irwin Mitchell, who represented the parents' in their compensation battle.



He continued: "This has been a long painful battle at times but we were determined to see it through. Not only for ourselves and our son, but for all those families who have lost loved ones under similar circumstances.



"No amount of money can ever bring Oliver back, but to us it was never just about the money. We wanted to make sure that the MoD sat up and paid attention to the devastating impact this whole ordeal has had on the families of the Nimrod victims and that accidents like this never happen again.



"The aftermath of this wholly avoidable incident will stay with us for the rest of our lives and having to go to court in order to get justice for Oliver had made it all the more difficult to move on."

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