Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MoD seeks to cut soldiers' payout!

British troops in Afghanistan
There have been 191 British fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001

The Ministry of Defence will go to the Court of Appeal later to try to significantly reduce the compensation awarded to two injured soldiers.

One, who was shot in the leg in Iraq, received £46,000, while the other, injured in training, got £28,750.

Both had their payouts increased due to complications, but the MoD is arguing that they should only be compensated for their "original injuries".

The stance has attracted criticism amid mounting casualties in Afghanistan.

The court appeal comes after two more soldiers were killed in Helmand province, bringing the total number of UK fatalities since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 to 191.

Military officials said on Monday that the first phase of a major offensive - Operation Panther's Claw - had been completed in Helmand.

The injured soldiers were initially awarded £9,250 and £8,250 respectively, but they appealed to a tribunal to have those sums increased.

Both men argued they had suffered a number of subsequent health problems during their treatment and that these should not be regarded as separate from their original injuries.

Three judges agreed with them and increased their compensation, but the MoD is now seeking to overturn that ruling.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson was severely hurt in Afghanistan

It claims it is trying "to clarify an earlier judgment about how the armed forces compensation scheme is administered, and to protect the key principle of the scheme: the most compensation for the most seriously injured".

A review of the compensation scheme is currently being carried out by the MoD following a number of appeals from, or on behalf of, former servicemen.

One of the most high-profile came from the mother of Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lost both legs and suffered severe brain damage in Afghanistan.

Initially he received just £152,000, but following widespread criticism that was increased.

The MoD points out that it has doubled the maximum lump sum payment to £570,000 for the most severely injured soldiers, in addition to an index-linked monthly income for life.

But the BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says that, with more badly-injured soldiers surviving than ever before thanks to improved medical treatment, the Court of Appeal's decision could have wider implications.

Last week, former prime minister Sir John Major said the current system of armed forces compensation "does not adequately address lifelong disability and, particularly, disabling mental conditions".




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