Jury finds in favour of family over disaster in Afghanistan
The family of a Royal Marine killed when the Nimrod plane he was travelling in crashed in Afghanistan, claiming the lives of all 14 British servicemen on board, today won their battle for justice in a Scottish court.
A jury at Edinburgh in the Court of Session ruled in favour of the mother and sister of 22-year-old Joe Windall in their claim against the MOD over the crash near Kandahar in 2006, awarding his devastated mother Philippa Young £90,000 in damages and his sister, Marie, a further £60,000.
Speaking after the two-day hearing, Mrs Young welcomed the verdict but said no amount of money could ever bring back her son who would ‘always be my hero’, while her lawyer, Andrew Buckham from leading national firm Irwin Mitchell, said the Royal Marine and his colleagues had been ‘let down very, very badly indeed’.
An inquest into the tragedy in 2008 ended with the Coroner, Andrew Walker, handing down a narrative verdict which concluded that the Nimrod had “never been airworthy from the first time it was released to the service nearly 40 years ago".
The MoD was further criticized following the independent review of the Nimrod fleet by Mr Haddon–Cave QC in 2009. The report from the review accused the MoD of sacrificing safety to cut costs and that the Nimrod accident occurred because of a "systemic breach" of the military covenant.
And after winning her battle for justice at Edinburgh’s High Court today, Mrs Young said: “My son will always be my hero. As a family we were, and always will be, unbelievably proud of him and all his colleagues who died in this crash that we have always felt could have been avoided.
“The past four years have been awful for us. We know there is a risk for all service personnel when they deploy on Operations, but you expect the risk to come from the conflict with the other side, not from the equipment that is supposed to help keep them safe.
“It is important that we have won this battle. No amount of money can ever bring my son back and that is something we have to live with every day and we are disappointed that we had to go to court in order to get justice for Joe."
Her lawyer, Andrew Buckham from the armed forces team at Irwin Mitchell which represented all 14 families at the inquest into the servicemen’s deaths, said: “All families accept that their loved ones may be in danger when they go to fight for their country, but our clients were determined to bring their case to court, not because of the issue of compensation but because they feel so strongly about the way Joe and his colleagues were put at risk and ultimately lost their lives.
“The safety of our servicemen has to be the paramount issue at all times and we would hope lessons have been learnt to ensure the same mistakes are never made again.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Military Injury Claims and Military Air Accident Claims.