Corporate Joshua Hoole, a soldier with the British Army, died at the age of 26 whilst on an army fitness test in 2016. He was engaged in heavy training on Brecon Beacons in excessively high temperatures.
Fellow troops became ill due to the intensive heat and it was clear that these were extraordinary circumstances in which to ask personnel to train. The procedure is that if temperatures exceed 20 degrees Celsius then training should be stopped.
Joshua’s father attributes his son’s death to the excessive heat and exercise on that day as he was an extremely fit soldier.
Policy guidelines were not followed so that the fitness test continued in spite of the temperature.
The MoD’s response has been to hold out two individuals responsible for this fitness test for this incident and to consider a court martial. This is in spite of the fact that the civilian police have already concluded that no criminal offences occurred.
Beyond Endurance Recommendations
Joshua’s death came three years after three other soldiers died in the same mountain range in the Brecon Beacons in 2013.
The Defence Committee held an Inquiry and published its report “Beyond endurance? Military Exercises and the duty of care” in response to these three deaths in 2016.
Hilary Meredith, Chair at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, provided evidence at the Inquiry, calling for the MOD to be subject to sanctions under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, without exemption.
The Inquiry agreed and found that it was wrong for the armed forces to have exemptions to the Act. Nevertheless, the Government rejected the recommendations of that committee.
We believe it is wrong for the MoD to be protected from prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act in such circumstances as there is a reckless disregard for life, as is demonstrated by the loss of life arising from these incidents on Brecon.
I fully support Hilary’s Meredith’s campaign for changes in the law as follows:
1. Removal of immunity from prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act
2. The MOD should not use individual personnel as scapegoats for failure, like any other enterprise responsibility rests with the heads of the organisations, not the individuals within it.