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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Army inquiry criticised by family
Private Jason Smith
Pte Jason Smith died in extreme heat in Iraq in 2003
The family of a Hawick soldier who died in Iraq has criticised a British Army inquiry calling him "very overweight".

The report into Pte Jason Smith's death in 2003 also called for tougher medical checks on TA troops going to war zones.

An earlier inquest heard how he died of heat stroke when his body temperature soared to 41.1C (105.98F).

The Army report said he was "at the higher level of obese" at 17 stones. His family has rejected those claims saying he was fit and healthy.

The Army board of inquiry's report said Pte Smith's body mass index (BMI), which measures height against weight, was dangerously high at 34.

The real story here is the soldiers were being put in extremely dangerous conditions
Jocelyn Cockburn

"A BMI of above 30 is generally taken as a point at which health becomes an issue," it said.

"It is the opinion of the board that Pte Smith's death was caused by a number of factors.

"These were the fact that he was very overweight, his probable lack of fitness, the extreme temperatures and lack of air conditioning."

The report called for tougher medical checks for TA troops being sent out to war zones.

Existing tests on reservists do not always measure medical fitness and, unlike regular forces, they can still be sent if they fail.

However, the soldier's mother, Catherine Smith, said her son took his job and fitness seriously and rejected claims he was obese.

'Let down'

"I feel so let down by the army," she said.

"They are to blame for his death because they made him and the other boys live in unbearable conditions without air conditioning and proper medical facilities.

"The boys were dropping like flies from the heat but the Army have tried to cover it up."

Her solicitor Jocelyn Cockburn said Pte Smith was a "good soldier".

"This is not because one soldier was or was not overweight," she said.

"The real story here is the soldiers were being put in extremely dangerous conditions."

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07 Nov 06 |  South of Scotland
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06 Nov 06 |  South of Scotland
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21 Aug 03 |  Lincolnshire

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