Family of Wythenshawe soldier killed in “mobile coffin” can sue the government

The family of Wythenshawe soldier, Pte Lee Ellis, killed in Iraq, while travelling in a “mobile coffin” has been given the go-ahead to sue the government following a ruling in the Supreme Court.

Pte Ellis was killed by a roadside bomb, aged 23, while in a Snatch Land Rover.

Since the death, Lee’s sister Karla has bee batttling to sue the Ministry of Defence for negligence on behalf of his young daughter.

Karla claims the MoD failed to provide adequate protection for soldiers fighting in Iraq and says her brother should have been in a stronger armoured vehicle.

At least 37 UK soldiers have died in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan while travelling in the lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover. Its vulnerability has led some soldiers to call it the “mobile coffin”.

Karla and the families of other sodiers want to sue the government using human rights laws.

The MoD had argued compensation claims should be struck out because the soldiers were not covered by the legislation once they had left their British base.

But the Supreme Court rejected this in a ruling today, paving the way for families to make damages claims for negligence.

Lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn, acting for the Snatch Land Rover families, said the MoD “can’t be given a carte blanche to fail to equip our troops”.

She said: “I think what they have established is what seems to many families is common sense – that soldiers have human rights, and they do remain within the jurisdiction of the UK, and they don’t lose those because they are on the battlefield.”

Defence secretary Phil Hammond has said the ruling could make it “more difficult for troops to carry out operations”.

Mr Hammond said: “I am very concerned at the wider implications of this judgment, which could ultimately make it more difficult for our troops to carry out operations, and potentially throws open a wide range of military decisions to the uncertainty of litigation.

“We will continue to make this point in future legal proceedings as it can’t be right that troops on operations have to put the European Convention on Human Rights ahead of what is operationally vital to protect our national security.”

The families’ claims will now be able to proceed to trial to determine if the MoD owes damages

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