War victim legal bid’s green light

Pte Lee Ellis
Pte Lee Ellis

RELATIVES of a former Wigan Athletic player-turned-paratrooper who died in Iraq will be allowed to sue the Government for negligence.

Families of Pte Lee Ellis and five other servicemen who claimed they were let down by inadequate British army equipment while on the front line have been bidding to seek compensation under human rights legislation.

And while Mr Justice Owen said that all but one of them could not sue on human rights grounds because the deaths happened outside the European Convention’s jurisdiction, he did say they could claim on other grounds.

Lawyers for the relatives, including Pte Ellis’s 10-year-old daughter Courtney, declared the High Court decision a landmark one.

They also intend to appeal against the human rights ruling while the Ministry of Defence itself said it would contest the decisions which went against it.

Pte Lee Ellis, a one-time apprentice goalie with the Latics, was killed in 2006 when a bomb planted in an abandoned car detonated next to his Snatch Land Rover. The 23-year-old dad-of-one from Wythenshawe was in the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment and died alongside Captain Richard Holmes, 28. It had been argued that the vehicle in which they were travelling was inadequate protection given the dangers of where they were operating.

A spokesman for Hodge Jones and Allen, a law firm representing some of the relatives, said: “Mr Justice Owen’s landmark judgment has shown that the Ministry of Defence’s argument that there is no duty to protect soldiers deployed on active service is manifestly wrong, The MoD has relied on the principle of combat immunity saying that this means that it does not owe soldiers a duty of care in negligence.”