Page last updated at 20:55 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

MoD criticised over soldier death

Lance Corporal Sean Tansey
L/Cpl Tansey enlisted in the army in May 1999

A British soldier who was crushed while repairing a tank in Afghanistan died because his regiment was not provided with proper equipment, a coroner ruled.

L/Cpl Sean Tansey, 26, of Newcastle, died in August 2006 as he repaired a Scimitar tank in the Helmand province.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Andrew Walker said the soldier's death had been contributed to by neglect.

He said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) should have provided wooden planks to put under the vehicle should it fall.

L/Cpl Tansey, of the Household Cavalry Regiment, joined the Lifeguards in May 1999 and spent most of his time within the Reconnaissance Sabre Troops.

'Serious failure'

Oxfordshire coroner Mr Walker attacked the failure of both training and equipment supplies provided by the MoD, which he ruled contributed to the death on 12 August, 2006.

He said: "The training and equipment were inadequate for the repair of this vehicle.

"This court has heard evidence of the failure to provide basic equipment for the maintenance of vehicles, which has been described by one witness as amounting to a gross or serious failure.

There was a big clunk. The vehicle pitched forwards and Sean's head was underneath it
L/Cpl Edward Sampson

"It is quite unfair that the soldiers should be criticised when their training was not adequate and their equipment was not sufficient."

L/Cpl Tansey's case is not the first soldiers' death in Afganistan to attract criticism because of lack of equipment.

Earlier this month an Oxford coroner ruled Capt James Philippson, of St Albans, Hertfordshire, was unlawfully killed during a firefight, because he was not wearing night vision goggles.

The MoD had admitted vital equipment was sent to Afghanistan 25 days late, arriving after the 29-year-old, of 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, died in June 2006.

L/Cpl Tansey's inquest heard that cushioning planks, known as "skidding", would have saved the soldier's life.

L/Cpl Edward Sampson, who was helping to repair the tank's broken torsion bar, said the team had no proper wooden planks.

He told the court: "There was a big clunk. The vehicle pitched forwards and Sean's head was underneath it."

Repair 'theory'

When the coroner asked if soldiers could refuse to do repair work on health and safety grounds, L/Cpl Sampson answered: "That's not the way the army works. If you are told to do something you do it."

The court heard the only other source of wood was a nearby orchard.

The coroner commented: "This was a matter for the MoD. It shouldn't be for soldiers to go foraging in a hostile environment to find chocks and skidding."

The soldiers had also only been taught the theory behind the particular repair job, the court was told.

Mr Walker said he would be writing to the MoD to ensure that skidding was included in all vehicle kits.

In a statement, a MoD spokesman said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family, friends and colleagues of Lance Corporal Sean Tansey at this difficult time.

"We note the coroner's comments and will ensure that lessons are learnt from this tragic incident."

Coroner's catalogue of complaints
15 Feb 08 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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