Page last updated at 06:08 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 07:08 UK

End MoD payouts appeal, says aide

UK medics in Afghanistan
Mr Joyce said given the fighting in Afghanistan, victory would be "Pyrrhic"

Appeals against compensation for two wounded soldiers are "profoundly wrong" and should be ended, a parliamentary aide to the defence secretary has said.

Labour MP Eric Joyce said that if the cases succeeded it would be a victory for "bureaucracy over bravery".

Ministers have faced intense criticism over their bid to reduce the payouts.

The MoD has brought forward a review of compensation but Downing Street said the two cases being considered by the Court of Appeal were "ongoing".

'Moral call'

Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Mr Joyce, parliamentary private secretary to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, said that although technically the MoD had a good chance of success, the appeal should be dropped.

He said that in the context of heavy fighting in Afghanistan, victory for the government would "come against the backdrop of a giant neon sign spelling out the word 'Pyrrhic'".

He added that politicians should "recognise that while the public will give us a lot of rope at times, where we get the moral call profoundly wrong on a matter of how we treat our astonishingly brave service personnel, we'll find ourselves dangling at the end of it".

Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell: "We are appealing the principle"

The Court of Appeal action involves Cpl Anthony Duncan and Royal Marine Matthew McWilliams.

Cpl Duncan was initially awarded £9,250 after being shot, while Marine McWilliams received £8,250 for fracturing his thigh on a training exercise, before they appealed to a tribunal for further compensation.

Both men argued they had suffered a number of subsequent health problems during their treatment and these should not be regarded as separate from their original injuries.

General Sir Mike Jackson, who was head of the Army when British troops went into Helmand province in 2006, has called for the compensation review to be independent.

He told the BBC: "The difficulty with the MoD is that on the one hand you have, dare I say it, the civil side of the MoD perhaps with costs as their first concern.

"You have the military side of the MoD with the welfare of the soldiers their first concern. These two things are not always in harmony."

'Shambles'

Defence Minister Bill Rammell said the government was focused on delivering the most adequate compensation to soldiers - doubling the maximum payout last year.

He added: "The reason we appealed the decision of the tribunal is that it could have fundamentally breached the crucial principle that the most compensation should go to those most seriously injured."

BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said MoD sources have indicated Mr Joyce will not lose his job.

But only last week the Wales Secretary Peter Hain said the government had got itself into a shambles on this issue, and our correspondent said Mr Joyce's intervention adds to the already considerable pressure on the MoD.

The review of the compensation scheme will involve consultation with legal experts, service charities and troops and their families.



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