Soldiers' families win right to sue MoD over Iraq deaths


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The Independent Online

Relatives of soldiers killed fighting in Iraq can claim for damages for negligence against the Government, senior judges said yesterday.

Lawyers representing troops' families hailed the Court of Appeal ruling in London as a "landmark decision".

Appeal judges said relatives could not make separate damages claims under human rights legislation, but lawyers said that fight would go on. They said families would take the human rights battle to the Supreme Court.

Sue Smith, 51, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, whose 21-year-old son Private Phillip Hewett was killed seven years ago, said: "It is just so dismissive... They are not just Action Men. People need to make a stand."

An MoD spokesman said later: "Our thoughts and concerns remain with those that were injured and the families of those that sadly lost their lives.

"We are considering the judgment by the Court of Appeal and as this is likely to be subject to further legal action it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

James Arbuthnot, chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee, told the BBC: "The implications of this ruling are very far-reaching indeed. It means that the MoD now has an extra thing that it has to take into account in everything it does in relation to war.

"This has been described as the triumph of lawfare over warfare."