Havering dad: I want justice for Kirk

�Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath was killed when his Land Rover struck a mine in Iraq – this week the government he was serving tried to strike out his family’s compensation bid.

It’s taken four years, but dad Colin Redpath says he is determined to get justice for his son and recognition that, he claims, the 22-year-old was sent to war “dangerously ill-equipped”.

Kirk, from Romford, was killed instantly when the Snatch Land Rover hit an improvised roadside bomb near Basra in 2007.

The family claim that the vehicle’s armoured plating was not thick enough to provide enough protection from explosions.

Colin, of South Hornchurch, and the families of three other dead soldiers, want compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).


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Two other severely injured soldiers are making similar claims.

‘Travesty’

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The families’ lawyers say all the tragedies were caused by alleged shortcomings in frontline equipment.

But MoD lawyers are using a defence called combat immunity – whereby the government says it is not liable for deaths or injury in battle – and are calling for the claims to be struck out.

The move has been slammed as a “travesty of justice” by some lawyers for the families.

Colin said: “Kirk was killed on a supplies mission to Kuwait; they requested an armoured vehicle for it, but there weren’t enough of them.

“Kirk might be still alive today if he had travelled in an armoured car.”

For Colin and the rest of the families, the case is not about cash, but justice and change.

“I understand that Kirk was in a war, but our army was promised the best equipment by the last government and they weren’t given it,” he said. “We want recognition of that failure to protect our boys.

Arguments

“These Land Rovers are still being used today, even though they are no match for a bomb.

“I don’t want any other family to go through what I have, if at all possible.”

Mr Justice Owen reserved judgment on Wednesday after hearing arguments from all sides during a three-day hearing at the High Court in London. The judge heard compensation claims had been made following an incident in which a British Challenger tank opened fire on another British Challenger tank, after an officer became “disorientated”, and incidents in which soldiers died after Snatch Land Rovers hit improvised bombs.

Civil liberties solicitor Jocelyn Cockburn, representing Colin and two other families, said in court: “The MoD’s approach throughout this long process has been to deny that Snatch Land Rovers were inadequate. This was in the face of evidence from soldiers on the ground that they were unsafe.

“This approach has served to spur the Snatch families on to seek justice and they have been assisted by wide public support.

“There is nothing unreasonable or disproportionate about a duty on the Government to take reasonable steps to protect soldiers from known risks.”

• Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was killed by “friendly fire” in March 2003.

• Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, died in July 2005 after a Snatch Land Rover was blown up.

• A similar explosion claimed the life of Private Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in February 2006..

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James Eadie QC, for the MoD, asked the judge to “strike out” the claims. “Should the court decide this issue? My submission is plainly not,” he told the court. “They are political decisions, not legal decisions.”

Lawyers say Mr Justice Owen will rule on the hearing in about a month.

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