Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 18:34 UK

MoD 'in no mood' to be told policy

Servicemen's coffins
Coroner Andrew Walker highlighted a "cavalier approach to safety"

As the Ministry of Defence is once again criticised by a coroner over the deaths of service personnel, BBC diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams assesses how it is responding to the legal scrutiny.

The coroner at the Nimrod crash inquest expressed frustration that none of his recommendations in previous military inquests had been adopted by the Ministry of Defence.

Andrew Walker may be disappointed again.

The speed with which the MoD responded indicates that it is not in the mood to have policy dictated from a coroner's court in Oxford.

But the story is far from over.

Difficult relationship

The government has already appointed a senior QC, Charles Haddon-Cave, to look into issues of airworthiness and to assess where responsibility lies for any failures.

This work is still going on, and it was never likely that the MoD would pre-empt his findings.

None of this will do anything to improve the difficult relationship between the government and independent-minded coroners like Andrew Walker.

Last month an effort by the MoD to restrict what coroners can say in apportioning blame, and thus giving families possible grounds for civil suits, was defeated in the courts.

Draft legislation on the workings of coroners is being discussed and may, in the long run, have a similar effect.

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