A response by Hilary Meredith, CEO, Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd:
I have been representing our gravely injured servicemen and women and their families for over 27 years and so I was proud to be invited to give evidence to this committee last year.
I have been utterly determined to see the MoD one day being held accountable for death or serious injury of one of its own. For too long they have hidden behind crown immunity from prosecution for training deaths and injury. Any other employer, with a similar annual budget of £45billion and workforce of over 250,000, simply wouldn’t have gotten away with it for so long.
There has been for far too long an almost blasé lack of understanding, from the very top, of the need for rigid systems in place to reduce the risk of death and serious injury to those men and women during training to the lowest achievable level.
It is a fact that more men and women die whilst training for war than do so in actual battle and this cannot possibly be acceptable in a modern society. Whilst training has to be realistic, it cannot though result in death. These are not mere accidents. This is about a blatant disregard for life. Only this week we heard of another fatality on a firing range due to a lack of safety officers on the ground. In the Brecon Beacons on the 13th July 2013, three young men lost their lives in savage conditions. Pure neglect caused those deaths and that is atrocious. Those responsible should have held their heads in shame and accepted responsibility.
I am therefore stunned and delighted to find that the evidence that I and others gave to the Select Defence Committee has resulted in a recommendation that the MoD must now be subject to corporate prosecution in circumstances where there has been found to be a reckless disregard for life.
For all the seriously injured and for the loved ones of those killed during training this is a fantastic development and I applaud the Committee for its judgment.
The MoD must no longer avoid its responsibilities to our brave men and women. Change has come at long last.
Hilary provided evidence at the Beyond Endurance Inquiry.