Will the MoD learn its lesson this time?

Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd has cautiously welcomed the news that military chiefs have been ordered to carry out two inquiries after the deaths of three men on the Brecon Beacons in 2013.

L/Cpl Edward Maher, L/Cpl Craig Roberts and Cpl James Dunsby died as a result of neglect on the 16-mile march.

The inquiries will see if safety lessons have been learned and look at support given to the men’s families.

Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt has now responded to a series of concerns raised by the coroner Louise Hunt at an inquest earlier this year.

She has written to the coroner, saying “we fully recognise how important it is that we learn all possible lessons to ensure that deaths under similar circumstances in the future can be prevented”.

Ms Mordaunt added: “We are also committed to supporting our servicemen and their families and we recognise fully that it is unacceptable to lose three soldiers in such circumstances.”

 

Cpl Dunsby, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, L/Cpl Roberts, from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy, and L/Cpl Maher, of Winchester, Hampshire, were on course to complete the march within the allocated time but were found in three separate locations at different times.

All three suffered the effects of hyperthermia – abnormally high body heat – and Ms Hunt said a failure of basic medical care contributed to their deaths.

The men’s inquest heard had organisers strictly followed the MoD code of practice, the march would have been cancelled after two men – not among those who died – were withdrawn from the exercise due to heat illness.

Ms Mordaunt has also told the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to review the training needs of the reservist units who were involved in the march, which was carried out on one of 2013’s hottest days.

The inquiry into the lessons learned will aim to ensure that they are applied across all forces endurance training.

Among the issues raised by the coroner were flaws in a tracker system used to monitor soldiers’ movements.

Clare Stevens, Board Director at Hilary Meredith Solicitors Ltd, represented the father of Corporal James Dunsby at the Inquest.

She commented:

“While changes to improve safety and reduce  must  be welcomed it remains to be seen whether the MoD will really learn from this tragedy.

“The Coroner rightly pointed out that it had failed to learn lessons from previous incidents  and we therefore welcome the two further inquiries which have been ordered; one of which will  consider that.  Until the MoD is properly accountable and can be prosecuted for health and safety breaches, lessons may never really be learned.“