Anger at soldier's 'insulting' payout

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The Independent Online

There was mounting anger last night at news that one of the most seriously injured soldiers to survive Afghanistan had received an "insulting" compensation payment.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 23, lost both his legs and suffered 37 wounds, including a brain injury, when a landmine exploded in Helmand last September. Despite needing specialised medical care for the rest of his life, the young soldier from the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery has been awarded £152,150 - slightly more than half the maximum - because the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) only takes into account the first three injuries.

Douglas Young, chairman of the British Armed Forces Federation, said: "It is deeply concerning somebody so badly injured should be compensated in this way. It really seems an unfair decision. The way the figures work out in this case are absolutely impossible to justify."

While his organisation said they were not against the scheme, it was in "crying need" of urgent review because enhanced body armour and excellent frontline medical care meant more soldiers were surviving very serious, multiple injuries.

Other organisations, such as the British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association (Blesma), have frequently challenged awards as an injured serviceman only receives 100 per cent of the tariff for the first injury, 30 per cent for the second, 15 per cent for the third and nothing for the fourth onwards.

L/Bdr Parkinson's mother Diane Dernie, 49, from Doncaster, said yesterday that she hoped to challenge the "insulting" amount in the High Court. "The severity of Ben's injuries means we need to be able to move to an adapted house to help him live as normal a life as possible. I really don't feel this will be possible with an award of this size," she said.

"We owe it to all the injured soldiers to fight for the compensation they deserve, to help them to live the best quality life they can expect," she added.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said multiple injury payments under the scheme were currently under review, adding : "All seriously injured personnel successfully claiming under AFCS will receive a lump sum as well as inflation-proof tax-free income, paid for life. This can amount to hundreds of thousands pounds over a lifetime." In L/Bmdr Parkinson's case that could mean up to £1m over his lifetime once his monthly compensation payment was taken into account.

Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said: "It is essential that an urgent review is carried out to ensure that those who put their lives on the line for this country are treated at least as well as those who type their orders."