Marine A – my thoughts

By Hilary Meredith..

As a lawyer specialising in military law I understand more than most the intricacies of Human Rights on the battlefield, it’s a complex area of law.

I am also in sympathy with those supporting Marine A and the incredibly difficult task we place on our armed forces. Adrenalin is running high and the ability to make split-second, life-changing decisions is probably impaired. I tend to agree that maybe some leniency needs to be shown towards Marine A, he knew it was wrong but a murder charge does not sit well.

Crown immunity was removed in 1987. I seem to remember Jack Straw being implicit in the change of the law at the time. It opened the door for claims on manoeuvres but also in a Theatre of War, but then in 1992 the case of Mulhaney changed the law giving the military an immunity in the heat of battle.  As a lawyer this seems eminently sensible however if we then equip our servicemen and women with the wrong equipment to do the job, it also make sense that equipment decisions are not made in the heat of battle but back in the UK before deployment. In these scenarios it seems quite right that there should be a legal right to claim. After all, we would not send someone to work on a building site without a hardhat or a fireman into an inferno without suitable breathing apparatus..

Lastly, the public and the press should not be confused with the military’s own “compensation“ scheme –  the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.  This is akin to the old style pension but with a gratuitous award for injury in service. The Government, despite our protestations decided in their wisdom to  put the word ‘compensation’ in the military pension title – call me cynical but was this just a deliberate attempt to mislead.  If it was, it has worked and now the MOD bleat about the increased “compensation” claims.