The solicitor leading the case for the families of soldiers killed on duty in Iraq has welcome today’s Supreme Court judgment that gives them the right to claim against the UK government.
Susan Smith (pictured, centre), Colin Redpath (pictured, left) and Karla and Courtney Ellis, known as the Snatch Land Rover families, brought claims against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for causing their loved ones, British soldiers serving in Iraq, to carry out high-risk activities in poorly armoured Land Rovers.
In each case the soldiers were killed when their vehicles were struck by improvised explosive devices.
At the Supreme Court this morning, Lord Hope gave the majority judgment dismissing the MoD’s applications to strike out the claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 and in negligence.
The court also found that British troops remain within the UK’s jurisdiction when deployed on active service abroad and so remain within the protections of the Human Rights Act.
Jocelyn Cockburn (pictured, right), partner at London firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which represented all four claimants, said the right to life should apply to everyone irrespective of whether or not they are soldiers.
‘It is fantastic that the Supreme Court has at last recognised that our armed forces are within the control and authority of UK authorities at all times and therefore within the UK’s jurisdiction, including when deployed abroad,’ she said.
‘It is essential that we recognise the human rights and dignity of our own soldiers. Apart from the fact that they are entitled as human beings to rights that we recognise as "universal", how else can we expect them to uphold the fundamental human rights of those they come across in conflict if they themselves are not protected?’
All of the claimants were represented at trial by Robert Weir QC and Jessica Simor QC. The claims will now proceed to trial to determine if the MoD owes damages.