Prince Charles' MoD Letters - Expert Comment

Geraldine McCool, Head of Military Injuries Claims Team, Discusses Prince Charles' MoD Letters

15.05.2015

As a lawyer who acts for service personnel and specialises in military air crashes I hold a clear view that Prince Charles’ intervention with regard to military resources and the Lynx aircraft in particular was significant, appropriate at the time and remains appropriate today.

The new Government will be proceeding to a Select Defence Security Review and today as I drove into work Jonathan Beale, the BBC’s Defence Correspondent, was reporting on NATO anti-submarine warfare exercises in the North Sea which he writes has highlighted a gaping hole in Britain’s own defences.

Several months before Prince Charles wrote to Tony Blair the Third report of the Select Defence Committee had examined the challenges of the Iraq war and the need for extra resources commissioned under Urgent Operational Requirements together with looking at how existing resources, such as the SA80, had performed in the heat and dust of Iraq. It’s comments on the Apache and Sea King Helicopters are also relevant.

In that sense Prince Charles was raising matters which in my view were in the public domain and are in the public interest. That report also looked at enhanced combat body armour which featured in the Inquest I conducted for the first soldier to die in Iraq – Sgt Steve Roberts. The Coroner Mr Walker delivering a       narrative verdict said “To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable and represents a breach of trust the soldiers have in those in government.”

I also dealt with two Pumas down in Iraq in 2007 and resource implications for the Puma fleet and pilots, particularly at RAF Benson, the subject of Air Vice Marshall Carl Dixon’s Puma Review. I am in fact reassured to find that Prince Charles was championing the cause of what is after all Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and I wonder how many MOD Officers will be privately pleased that the Government was being put under scrutiny.

And yet a significant report remains unpublished and must now be progressed. I gave evidence to the Chillcott Inquiry in 2010 and whilst I, and many of my clients, hope that the delay to publication is indicative of a full robust inquiry, the fact is that we need this document to come into the public domain and to become part of the debate.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Military Injuries Claims.