Don’t be hoodwinked into believing MOD statistics – there are two sides to every story

The MOD’s statement that “Human Rights laws and compensation culture are undermining British military operations”, is utterly misleading and untrue, damages claims are down year on year you only have to read the MODs own annual report to see this.

The MOD are trying to hoodwink the public by calling their own pension scheme a “compensation scheme”- I have personally argued for this misleading title to be change since it was proposed in 2005 but it still remains in the Armed Forces “compensation scheme” (AFCS) title.

The military pay an enhanced pension scheme to anyone injured or killed on military duty. As a result of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan those payments have increased.

In addition there are relatively few damages claims made by specialist lawyers where there is clear evidence that someone was at fault and caused an accident, nevertheless the MOD enjoy what is know as COMBAT IMMUNITY – meaning if military personnel are in a direct combat situation with an enemy, they are unable to bring any claims for injuries – it is a defence, which in my view has always been eminently sensible – you cannot have a situation where a soldier is suing his captain for being told to go over the breach and protection is in place in the form of combat immunity to stop this.

Human rights claims are again relatively few and usually come into play if there is a death overseas but they are very small and insignificant in number for the MOD to complain about.

The MOD statistics need to be questioned, of the 2,517 claims do they include their own pension AFCS figures?

Of the 45,000 men and women in the armed forces these statistics at 2,517 claims seem relatively few?

Of the £51 million paid in compensation what was this for and can we see a breakdown, does it include pension AFCS payments? I am aware that damages claims against the MOD are vastly down in recant years, the figures have been skewed though by hearing loss cases from Northern Ireland.

Of the £30,million paid in lawyers fees what does this include? My experience with the MOD is that they are inefficient in dealing with claims and delays and stalling tactics lead to increased legal costs.

So, I call on the MOD to explain their figures, provide a breakdown of what is or isn’t included in their statistics.

Further, the few damage claims that are made make the MOD face responsibility as the rest of us have to, for years they have hidden behind a veil of secrecy, with families given very little information.

Everyone makes mistakes and the MOD are no exception and this is where damage claims can actually make a difference and become the MOD’s conscience, to force changes that save lives and otherwise  wouldn’t be made. For an example look to the snatch Land Rovers – clearly unsuitable for operations in Afghanistan yet it wasn’t until lawyers made claims that the situation was made public. As a result, the situation changed and lives have been saved.

By making a claim, inefficiencies and faults are brought to light and improvements made, do we want to reverse back to the dark ages where employers got away with outrageous practices, causing injury and death without any checks in place?

The MOD may not like scrutiny but they are no different from anyone else when facing accountability.

Finally, what I do agree with the MOD on is its condemnation of the use of human rights legislation to protect those who the military are at risk from, as seen in the current Iraqi prisoner of war cases. My own view is that our military have enough to cope with on the front line without facing human right claims from those they are fighting against.

– Hilary.