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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 12:48 GMT
Mother demands Hoon resignation
Sergeant Steven Roberts
Sergeant Steven Roberts was shot in the chest during a riot in Basra
The mother of a British soldier killed in Iraq after being told to hand back his body armour, says Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon should resign.

Marion Chapman, of Wadebridge, Cornwall, was reacting to a report released by the Ministry of Defence on Thursday.

It showed that Sergeant Steven Roberts was ordered to give his protective body armour to another soldier.

A reconstruction of the 33-year-old tank commander's death revealed that the armour would have saved his life.

'Dreadful results'

Mrs Chapman said: "It's atrocious to think that our lads were sent out to fight a war and they did not have the right stuff.

"We went to see Geoff Hoon and he said that everything was in place and there were no mistakes, but he has lied to us."

North Cornwall MP Paul Tyler said it was time someone took responsibility for the errors that led to Sergeant Roberts' death.

"If mistakes were made and dreadful results came from those mistakes, then the very least we should expect is that the secretary of state should acknowledge that.

"I have twice heard the secretary of state in the House of Commons playing down the significance of these defects, but that's not acceptable."

Sergeant Roberts' widow Samantha, of Shipley, West Yorkshire, has also demanded an apology from Mr Hoon.

The MoD said it would not comment until the full inquiry had been completed.

Friendly fire question

The MoD document said if Sergeant Roberts - the first British casualty in the war - had been wearing armour with protective ceramic plates fitted, the bullet that struck him in the chest "would have been defeated".

There has also been doubt placed on whether Sergeant Roberts was actually killed by Iraqi dissidents or friendly fire.

A senior officer from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment wrote to his family saying another commander had fired to help Sergeant Roberts.

The letter said the Iraqi was killed but "tragically Steve was also hit".

Sergeant Roberts was serving with the tank regiment near Al Zubayr, south west of Basra, when he was shot dead on 24 March.




SEE ALSO:
Soldier's widow praises Bush
14 Nov 03  |  West Yorkshire
Kit criticised over Gulf death
05 Aug 03  |  Cornwall
Farewell for Desert Rats 'hero'
25 Apr 03  |  Cornwall


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