Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 15:26 UK

MoD press officer sues government

A Snatch Land Rover
John Salisbury-Baker had to discuss Snatch Land Rovers with the press

A Ministry of Defence press officer is to sue the government, claiming his health was affected by having to deal with the families of dead soldiers.

John Salisbury-Baker, 62, claims holding back information on troops' safety led him to develop stress-related illnesses.

His solicitor told the BBC that the work had a "very serious effect" on his client's health.

The MoD said it could not comment while proceedings were pending.

Mr Salisbury-Baker is now taking the MoD to an employment tribunal, suing under disability legislation.

Through his work he also handled the media, telling them that Army vehicles, such as Snatch Land Rovers, were adequately equipped to withstand roadside bombs.

He began working for the MoD in 1996 as an information officer and later became defence press officer at the Imphal Barracks, in York.

He feels that the information he was given, which he was giving out in good faith at the time, was subsequently proved perhaps not to have been entirely accurate
David Gordon, lawyer for John Salisbury-Baker

In 2007, he was diagnosed with stress-related angina after suffering anxiety, discomfort in his chest and sleepless nights.

After being off work sick for 12 months, he returned to work briefly but was subsequently told he had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Health affected

Mr Salisbury-Baker is suing his employers under disability legislation, claiming that the MoD failed to make adequate provision for an existing stress illness which, he says, had been accepted by his employers as a disability.

He also claims he was not trained for the family liaison role or offered support.

Mr Salisbury-Baker is bound by the Official Secrets Act, but his lawyer David Gordon told BBC 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire that his client feels his health was affected as a result of the position he was placed in by the MoD.

"He feels that the information he was given, which he was giving out in good faith at the time, was subsequently proved perhaps not to have been entirely accurate.

"John feels caught up in that, and it's had a very serious effect on his health.

"You could feel that John, as a father, feels extremely upset that he was put into such a position."



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