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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 18:32 GMT
Army supply 'chaos' proved fatal
Gordon Gentle
Gordon Gentle died in Iraq more than three years ago
A coroner has ruled that an Army logistics failure led to the unlawful killing of a Scottish soldier in Iraq.

Gordon Gentle, 19, of the Royal Highland Fusiliers (RHF), was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra in June 2004.

Selena Lynch, deputy assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, said it was probable the bomb would not have detonated had disabling device Element B been fitted.

The equipment had been available, she said, but was left in a store under a mile away because of a clerical error.

Fusilier Gentle's mother Rose, 43, from Glasgow, said justice had been done and the truth had come out.

"I fought for that," she said.

"I said I wouldn't give up and I didn't. My son should be here today.

"They have deprived me of a beautiful son and deprived two sisters of their brother.

We were immensely saddened at his loss ... and we deeply regret the series of events that contributed to it
Ministry of Defence spokesman

"I'm proud of Gordon but I am disgusted at the way he was treated.

"They say when you join the Army it's a brilliant career. At the same time you should be looked after."

Mrs Gentle said she was appalled by the way the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had behaved.

She criticised Lord Drayson, the minister who was in charge of defence procurement, for his decision to stand down on the day the inquest concluded.

Lord Drayson said he was taking a "leave of absence" to take part in the 24-hour Le Mans race.

Mrs Gentle said: "He should be at his desk, not trotting off to some race.

Rose Gentle
Rose Gentle has been highly critical of the Ministry of Defence

"I think the servicemen and women are more important than him doing a motor race."

The inquest heard that electronic counter measures (ECMs) - known as Element B - were in theatre two weeks before Fusilier Gentle's death.

However, due to a communications breakdown they were fitted to RHF vehicles just hours after he died.

The store in which the kits were being held was about 1km - just over half a mile - from where the RHF were stationed, at Shaibah logistics base on the edge of Basra, the inquest heard.

The ECMs arrived in theatre on 12 June.

Their intended delivery date to the units, including the RHF, was 16 June.

It was not until the evening of 28 June, hours after Fusilier Gentle's death, that RHF vehicles began to be fitted with the ECM devices.

Top cover

The coroner said the inquest at Oxford heard that the Army's in-theatre supply chain "appeared chaotic and lacking in clarity".

Ms Lynch branded the Ministry of Defence's policies for disclosure of evidence to her inquest "illogical and based on errors of law".

Fusilier Gentle had volunteered for the position of top cover, looking out from the top of the vehicle.

Delivering her verdict, the coroner said: "He died as a result of injuries caused by the explosion and was unlawfully killed.

Lord Drayson

"It is probable that the device would not have been detonated if the escort had been equipped with an ECM, known as Element B."

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said the government had no argument with the findings of the inquest.

He said "robust reporting mechanisms" had been introduced to the system but said it was impossible to promise it would not happen again.

The minister said: "What I can do is try to put in place robust systems in order to minimise the threat; nobody can ever guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong."

The government's aim was to make sure that when threats changed, the right equipment was supplied "as quickly as possible and as comprehensively as possible", he said.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Gordon Gentle's mother, Rose, speaks to reporters



SEE ALSO
Coroner's bomb death frustration
06 Nov 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Court told of jamming kit delay
05 Nov 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Army Major accused of kit delays
31 Oct 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Iraq bomb jamming device delayed
30 Oct 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Fusilier's final patrol described
29 Oct 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Army 'blood-stained tags' denial
23 Mar 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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