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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 15:59 GMT
Coroner's catalogue of complaints
Andrew Walker
Andrew Walker has repeatedly criticised the Ministry of Defence
Coroner Andrew Walker has criticised the Ministry of Defence for failing to supply soldiers in Afghanistan with basic equipment.

Speaking at the inquest into the death of British soldier Captain James Philippson, Mr Walker said the soldiers were "defeated not by the terrorists but by the lack of basic equipment".

It is not the first time the Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner has criticised the British and US military for failing UK soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DAVID CLARKE AND STEPHEN ALLBUTT

Trooper David Clarke and Corporal Stephen Allbutt
The soldiers were killed just days after the start of the Iraq war

Trooper David Clarke, 19, and Cpl Stephen Allbutt, 35, both from Staffordshire, were killed by "friendly fire" in Iraq just five days after the start of the war, in March 2003.

A Black Watch tank fired on another, which was occupied by the two soldiers.

At an inquest in July 2007, Mr Walker accused a senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay MacDuff, of causing the tragedy by failing to pass on vital information.

He said it was a "completely avoidable tragedy" which represented a "serious failing".

He said Lt Col Lindsay MacDuff, who was a major commanding B Company, 1 Black Watch, had "failed to appreciate" the danger the men were in when discussing platoon positions with the tank troop commander.

After the inquest, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) apologised to the soldiers' families and said it would consider Mr Walker's findings to see if further action was needed.

MATTY HULL

Matty Hull
Matty Hull's death was "unlawful" and a "criminal act", the coroner said

Lance Corporal Matty Hull, 25, from Berkshire, died in March 2003 when a US aircraft opened fire on his tank.

He died from multiple injuries despite efforts by colleagues to save him.

At an inquest held in February 2007, Mr Walker launched a furious attack on the MoD for refusing to release a video tape of the moment the aircraft opened fire.

A cockpit video of the incident existed but the MoD said it did not have the authority for it to be played in court.

The video was later leaked to The Sun newspaper.

Mr Hull's widow, Susan, said it was an "absolute disgrace" that the evidence had come to light when she had been assured by the military that no such tape existed.

Mr Walker later ruled Mr Hull's death had been "entirely avoidable" and constituted a criminal act.

STEVEN ROBERTS

Sgt Steve Roberts
Sgt Roberts had given up his body armour, which could have saved him

Sgt Steven Roberts, 33, from Shipley, West Yorkshire, was shot dead in a "friendly fire" incident as he managed a checkpoint in Iraq in March 2003.

He had been ordered to give up his enhanced body armour three days before his death, due to shortages.

At an inquest into his death in December 2006, Mr Walker ruled the delays in providing body armour to troops were "unforgivable and inexcusable".

Mr Walker said: "To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable and represents a breach of trust the soldiers have in those in government.

"I have heard justification and excuse and I put these to one side as I remind myself that Sgt Roberts lost his life because he did not have that basic piece of equipment.

CHRISTOPHER MADDISON

Marine Maddison
Marine Christopher Maddison was killed while on river patrol

Marine Christopher Maddison, 24, from Scarborough, was killed by his own side during a river patrol in 2003.

An internal inquiry later concluded he had been killed after a series of operational errors.

Mr Walker said there had been serious failures in the chain of command and Mr Maddison had been "let down by those who were in command and by the communication system in operation at that time".

JOHN JOHNSTON COSBY

MoD picture of Corporal John Cosby
The family of John Cosby had to "fight for information"

Corporal John Johnston Cosby, 28, of the 1st Battalion The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, died on 16 July 2006.

At an inquest into his death in October 2007, Mr Walker criticised the MoD for making his family "fight every step of the way" for information.

He said: "Corporal Cosby, like so many before him, lost his life during a terrorist attack all the more tragic as he fell under fire from British soldiers.

"I have no doubt that his loss will be keenly felt by his family, those he worked with and all those who knew him.

"If this were not enough in itself to bear, they and their legal team have had to fight every step of the way towards this inquest to have sight of documents to help them understand what had happened."



SEE ALSO
Coroner attacks MoD over failure
15 Feb 08 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Profile: Andrew Walker
16 Apr 07 |  UK

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