1. ITV Report

Ruling on soldiers' human rights

Private Phillip Hewett, who served with the 1st Staffords in Iraq, was killed on 16th July 2005 Photo: PA

The UK's most senior judges are to decide whether relatives of soldiers killed fighting Iraq can make damages claims against the Government using human rights legislation.

It comes after the families of soldiers who had been killed in action, including the mother of Private Phillip Hewett from Tamworth, were told in October by the Court of Appeal that they could pursue claims for damages for negligence but not make claims under human rights legislation.

After the hearing in October, Sue Smith, whose son Private Phillip Hewett, 21, was killed seven years ago in a roadside bomb attack on his armoured Snatch Land Rover, said the ruling was "dismissive" and urged "people to make a stand".

Relatives had argued that the MoD failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment that could have saved lives and should pay compensation. The MoD argued that decisions about battlefield equipment were for politicians and military commanders.

Legal action was started as a result of the deaths of a number of British soldiers following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was killed in a "friendly fire" incident in March 2003 He died after a Challenger 2 tank was hit by another Challenger 2 tank. His colleague Dan Twiddy, of Stamford, Lincolnshire was badly hurt in the incident.

The judges accepted the Government's assertion that the battlefield was beyond the reach of litigation but the families' lawyers said the fight would go on and they would take the human rights battle to the Supreme Court. Today, court officials say the appeal is due to be heard in the week of Monday February 18 and will last up to three days.

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