Our specialist armed forces solicitors successfully got the MOD to change their policies on responsible drinking after a soldier fell to his death. The soldier’s family were devastated and wanted answers as to how they’d lost their son to a preventable accident.
Ryan Lovatt was on a cultural visit to Poland with the British Army, as part of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. During their downtime several of the soldiers went out drinking. Some of the men were attacked with pepper sprayed outside of a night club, so Ryan and a colleague headed back to their hotel in a taxi.
The MOD had a safeguarding policy in place called Shark Watch to prevent incidents from happening while soldiers were drinking alcohol. Shark Watch is where a nominated person stays sober and vigilant to keep an eye on the rest of the group.
Ryan was put to bed by a colleague but was tragically later found dead after he accidentally fell from a seven foot balcony.
How We Helped
Ryan’s family got in contact with our specialist armed forces claims solicitors, Andrew Buckham and Stephanie Clark, to help them get answers at the inquest into his death. Our specialist military team gathered evidence and spoke with the coroner on the family’s behalf to confirm what had caused Ryan’s death.
At the Inquest, we highlighted that the MOD’s alcohol policies were too restrictive, which may have led the soldiers to binge drink when they were off duty. The Team highlighted that there was a systematic problem with the MOD’s Shark Watch policy. The MOD failed to communicate clearly or brief soldiers about who was on Shark Watch duty and what their duties were.
After being presented with all the evidence, the coroner prepared a report to ‘prevent future deaths’ to the MOD. This outlined concern over the MOD’s standard policy for consuming alcohol.
Preventing Future Tragedies
Because of the report, the MOD changed their policy to a “drink in moderation” policy, with the intention to reduce the negative effects of binge drinking.
The MOD also rewrote their Shark Watch policy to make sure that those nominated are now given written orders. The nominated individual must also sign the order as evidence that they’re aware of their Shark Watch duty.
“After what happened to Ryan Lovatt, the most important part about this case was getting the MOD to take more responsibility for the safety of their employees. I hope that changing their policies will go a long way to making sure this never happens again.” – Stephanie Clark, Armed Forces Claims Solicitor.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in the military, our specialist military injury solicitors can help. Call us on 0370 1500 100 or get in touch online.
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