Letter: Rare ex-gratia payments by US

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lord Kennet's letter (30 October) concerning the compensation offered by the US authorities to the relatives of the British officers recently killed over northern Iraq asks a number of questions, not all of which can be answered here. There are, however, some important points which I should like to emphasise.

The US authorities conducted an extremely thorough investigation of the events surrounding this tragic event, and their findings were published in full on 13 July. Two senior British officials, one legal and one military, played a full part in the inquiry and the next of kin of the two British officers were briefed in advance of publication by the US authorities.

Of course, whether those found to be responsible are prosecuted is a matter for the US authorities, but we have no reason to believe that they will not proceed with the same thoroughness and candour that they have shown to date.

It is important also to realise that ex-gratia payments of the nature being offered by the US authorities are not required by law and are extremely rare. The US Defense Secretary's decision is a humanitarian action and should be welcomed as such. Payments of dollars 100,000 are being offered only to the relatives of all those non- US nationals killed on 13 July.

Yours sincerely,

NICHOLAS SOAMES

Minister of State for

the Armed Forces

Ministry of

Defence

London, SW1

30 August

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