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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Fund pledge for soldier inquests
A soldier's coffin being carried
Wiltshire being taking on inquests after a previous backlog
The government has pledged to give extra money to prevent inquests of UK troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan being delayed by a backlog of cases.

Last year Oxfordshire's coroner was given extra funds to tackle a backlog.

But Wiltshire's coroner has so far not been given any extra money since taking on new cases in April.

Leader of the Commons Harriet Harman told MPs that funds would be made available to prevent a repeat of what had happened in Oxfordshire.

Minister for Justice Jack Straw has also offered to meet the Wiltshire coroner to discuss the situation.

'Let down'

Wiltshire's coroner, county council and chief constable have all previously asked for more funds amid fears that families of British troops killed overseas could face a long wait for inquest hearings.

The bodies of more than 30 service personnel have been flown to RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, since the county started taking on cases.

We cannot have delays to inquests
Harriet Harman
Commons leader

Sammie Crane, an army wife and chief executive of the Army Families Federation, said the government had let families down.

"It's just extremely disappointing. I can't believe that we're still in this situation. We've been assured all along that the inquests would catch up, that we would be closer to having all the inquests seen to in good time.

"And to hear again that we might be facing more of a backlog with Wiltshire is very disappointing and so difficult for families."

Speaking in the House of Commons Ms Harman denied there was currently any backlog in Wiltshire.

She said: "We will not allow a backlog to arise in the same way it did in the past in Oxfordshire and if he [the coroner] makes it clear what resources are necessary, then those resources will be forthcoming.

"We cannot have delays to inquests."

In October Ms Harman, who was then constitutional affairs minister, said the backlog of inquest cases was "unacceptable" and would be "sorted out".




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