Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Progress on soldier inquest move

The body of Sergeant John Manuel of 45 Commando Royal Marines in Arbroath, Scotland being repatriated at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire.
Ministers want to minimise the distress to Scottish families

New laws are being brought forward to allow Scottish inquests into the deaths of soldiers overseas.

UK and Holyrood ministers want to end the current practice where the families of Scottish-based service personnel have to travel to hearings in England.

Following a meeting between the two governments, Westminster ministers expressed confidence they would soon be able to legislate on the matter.

The move aims to reduce the stress placed on families.

Current laws on Fatal Accident Inquiries in Scotland do not allow them to be held in relation to deaths outside Scotland.

UK ministers said Scottish-based families of service personnel who die abroad should be able to attend hearings as close as possible to the family home, without having to travel long distances.

Scotland Office minister Ann McKechin, said: "Minimising any extra distress to the families of Scottish service personnel who have died abroad must be our priority, and we've had very constructive talks with Scottish ministers."

The Westminster government wants the change to go forward in the current parliamentary session.

The move would also require the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

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