Soldiers’ families can sue, says court

Former Wigan Athletic youth player Private Lee Ellis, who was killed in Iraq

Former Wigan Athletic youth player Private Lee Ellis, who was killed in Iraq

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FAMILIES of soldiers killed in Iraq, including a former Wigan Athletic youth player, can bring damages claims against the Government.

Relatives of Private Lee Ellis, who was killed in an explosion in 2006, are among a group of military families suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for negligence and under human rights legislation.

They say the MoD failed to provide sufficient armoured vehicles or protective equipment for soldiers in Iraq, which they say could have saved lives.

Their quest to bring the Government to account for the deaths has now been given a boost after the Supreme Court said the claims can proceed to trial.

Shubhaa Srinivasan, from the law firm representing the families, said: “The highest court in the land has now ruled the MoD, as employer, must accept that it owes a duty of care to properly equip service personnel who go to war.

“We have constantly argued that the MoD’s position is morally and legally indefensible.

”It seems incredible that it was often left up to soldiers themselves to buy this equipment as they felt compelled to, so as to better protect their own lives.”

Lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn said: “They have established what to many families seems common sense: that soldiers have human rights, and they don’t lose those because they are on the battlefield.”

The families’ case has already been heard by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, with the case being brought to the Supreme Court after previous judges ruled they could not bring claims under human rights law.

However, the Supreme Court considered whether British soldiers killed while fighting abroad were covered by legislation enshrining the right to life.

The MoD said decisions about equipment are for politicians and commanders.