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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July, 2005, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Ex-soldier wins stress damages
Malcolm New
Malcolm New rose to the rank of staff sergeant
An ex-soldier has been awarded 620,000 damages from the Ministry of Defence for stress suffered while on duty.

Malcolm New, from Llandudno, claimed at the High Court that the MoD failed to identify and treat his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The judge also ruled in the cases of Melvyn West from Barnsley and another man who is not named for legal reasons.

Mr New, 46, is believed to be the first to receive an award of this kind. The MoD had disputed the claim.

Responding to the judgment, Mr New, who is described as a virtual recluse, said: "This was never about money, it was about recognition for all who have served Queen and country."

It was over the MoD's failure to refer him for medical treatment that Mr New sought damages.

Earlier this year, the High Court heard how he was sent home from duty because colleagues thought he was "losing it".

'Outstanding leadership'

Mr New rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during his 18-year Army career, and excelled in intelligence work during his tours in Northern Ireland which took place between 1979 and 1994.

On receiving the British Empire Medal in 1990, he was praised for "outstanding leadership" and his commanding officer said he "really gets to grips with the terrorists".

Mr New's barrister Stephen Irwin QC told the court that his client had been refused redundancy ahead of a fifth tour.

Describing Mr New as an "upright" soldier, Mr Irwin said he should have been referred for medical treatment at this stage.

However, he said he did not see a psychiatrist until 1997 - three years after his discharge - and he was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Irwin told the hearing that the former Royal Welch Fusiliers' colour sergeant could have served the maximum 24 years in the army but for the "combat stress".

'Traumatic events'

Robert Jay, QC for the Ministry of Defence, argued Mr New had carried a number of "risk factors" from childhood which increased the likelihood of psychiatric illness.

Speaking after the judgement, Mr New's solicitor, Richard Scorer, said his client hoped the case would help change the way "psychiatric casualties of warfare" were dealt with by the armed forces.

He added: "Just because the injury is psychological it doesn't make it any less real or any less deserving of treatment.

"Malcolm served five tours of Northern Ireland and witnessed a whole series of traumatic events - bombings (and) shootings of close colleagues.

"The court found the army ought to have recognised that he had these problems and provided him with the necessary treatment."

Mr New had made his claims alongside two other former soldiers - Melvyn West, from Barnsley, and a third soldier. Their damages have yet to be fully assessed.

In a statement, the MoD said: "We attach a high priority to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and work hard to ensure our personnel receive the best possible care.

"Clearly in the cases of West, Malcolm New and ... there were failings, which the MoD very much regrets and will work to ensure they are not repeated.

"However, these are very much isolated cases which turned on their own individual facts and not on any systemic failures by the MoD.

"The PTSD Group Action, originally comprised of around 2,000 claims, was first heard in 2002. In the vast majority of these cases, judgment in favour of the MoD was handed down on May 21, 2003. The judge found against the MoD in just four cases."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
What Malcolm New's case means for the MOD



SEE ALSO:
Ex-soldier 'lost it' on duty tour
19 May 05 |  North West Wales
Veteran sues Army over 'stress'
19 May 05 |  North West Wales
'They turn a blind eye'
21 May 03 |  Health
Ex-soldiers sue over stress
21 Apr 00 |  Northern Ireland
MoD defends soldiers' treatment
21 Apr 00 |  UK News


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