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MoD: 'We accept full responsibility for these tragic deaths'

Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt has issued an apology Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA

The Ministry of Defence has issued an apology to the family of the Wiltshire soldier who died in an SAS exercise along with the families of two other soldiers who also died.

In a written statement, Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt said the MoD had failed to minimise risks to the soldiers and promised to stick by any recommendations made by the coroner. She also said the MoD would begin its own inquiry into the tragedy and offered to meet the families of the three soldiers.

"It will always be necessary to train and test our military personnel to the highest possible level so that they can meet the challenges to national security that we face both in the UK and overseas. Achieving this end does involve individuals having to push themselves and take some risk. However, as an organisation we must ensure that this is balanced with the need to ensure these risks are effectively mitigated. In this case, we did not do this and we accept full responsibility for these tragic deaths. We are determined to learn the lessons. I am the Minister who will be responsible for taking any corrective action forward. I will be writing to the families personally and will make myself available to meet them if they wish, and to facilitate any requests they might have."

– Penny Mordaunt MP, Defence Minister

Wiltshire MP 'appalled' by soldier deaths

Cpl James Dunsby died of multiple organ failure caused by overheating in July 2013. Credit: Ministry of Defence

The MP for South West Wiltshire says he's "appalled" by the failings that led to the deaths of three soldiers on an SAS test march.

An inquest found that the deaths of Corporal James Dunsby from Wiltshire, as well as Lance Corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts, were contributed to by neglect, and could have been avoided if the army's own regulations on heat illness had been followed.

Dr Andrew Murrison, a former defence minister who served in Iraq, is to ask the Ministry of Defence to ensure changes are made that will prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

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  1. Rupert Evelyn

Video: SAS has 'a culture of cover ups'

"A culture of cover-ups" and planning "on the back of a fag packet": our reporter Rupert Evelyn talks to a member of the SAS about the background to the inquest into the deaths of three soldiers on a training exercise.

The coroner ruled today that neglect played a part in their deaths, and that they would not have died if the army's own regulations on heat illness had been followed.

Coroner: Soldiers would have survived if army had followed its own rules

Cpl James Dunsby died of multiple organ failure caused by overheating in July 2013. Credit: Ministry of Defence

A coroner has ruled that neglect contributed to the deaths of three soldiers, including Corporal James Dunsby from Wiltshire, who collapsed during a 16-mile SAS training march.

Recording narrative verdicts at an inquest in Solihull, senior Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt said all three soldiers would have survived if Ministry of Defence regulations on heat illness had been followed.

Ms Hunt criticised inadequate planning, badly functioning technology, a "chaotic" response to the men's initial collapse, and "a catalogue of very serious mistakes" by many people in the organisation.

Corporal Dunsby died in hospital from multiple organ failure more than two weeks after collapsing on the march in July 2013. Lance corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts were pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons after suffering heatstroke.

Army apologises for deaths of soldiers during training process

James Dunsby, from Trowbridge, suffered multiple organ failure from overheating. Credit: Ministry of Defence

The Army has apologised for the deaths of three soldiers who died during an SAS training process, after the coroner ruled that neglect contributed to their deaths.

Speaking outside the coroner's court, spokesman Brigadier John Donnelly described James Dunsby, Craig Roberts and Edward Maher as "fine soldiers", though incorrectly referring to Corporal Dunsby as James Dunsford.

Cpl James Dunsby, from Wiltshire, collapsed during the march in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013, and died from multiple organ failure in hospital two weeks later. His wife has challenged the Ministry of Defence to accept responsibility and make the right changes.

Lance corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts were pronounced dead on the march after suffering heatstroke.

Brigadier Donnelly said changes had already been made to the particular training procedure that led to the men's deaths, but that the Army would study the coroner's conclusions closely.

Soldier's widow says mistakes 'will be repeated' unless things change

Bryher Dunsby said her husband would have been Credit: ITV News

The widow of a soldier who died after an SAS training march has demanded that the Ministry of Defence accept responsibility for the failures which led to her husband's death.

As the coroner rules that James Dunsby died because of failings in how the training was organised and managed, Bryher Dunsby has said outside the coroner's court that the MoD has "displayed no responsibility, no accountability and no humility".

James Dunsby died from multiple organ failure and overheating in 2013. Credit: Ministry of Defence

In an emotional tribute to her husband, she described him as "chivalrous, loyal and high-spirited", and urged those who knew him to remember him as he was in life rather than by how he died.

She said he would have been "so hugely disappointed" in an organisation that he loved, and that these mistakes would happen again unless those at the top were willing to acknowledge them.

Mrs Dunsby challenged the MoD to make the right changes to "equipment training and to procedure", so that the death of Cpl Dunsby, as well as those of Lance Corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts, were not in vain.

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Coroner: lack of preparation contributed to soldiers' deaths

Coroner Louise Hunt Credit: HM Coroner's Office

A lack of build-up marches contributed to the deaths of three army reservists who collapsed on an SAS test exercise, a coroner has said. In comments to the final day of an inquest in Solihull, Senior Birmingham Coroner Louise Hunt also ruled that checkpoint staff had missed signs of heat illness in one of those who died.

The inquest has heard that lance corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts were both pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons after suffering heatstroke in July 2013. Corporal James Dunsby from Trowbridge died at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital from multiple organ failure more than two weeks after the march.

Ruling that the lack of build-up marches in the week before the march had contributed to the deaths, Ms Hunt stressed that fitness was different to conditioning and that all those who died had been "very fit".

"I consider that the risk assessment was not adequate for the march being undertaken. It failed to address the increased risk of heat illness based on the weather forecast.

"It failed to have a clear plan for how to get to and treat any heat injury casualties that occurred."

– Coroner Louise Hunt

Coroner's damning conclusions on Wiltshire soldier's death

Cpl James Dunsby from Trowbridge was one of three reservists to die Credit: Ministry of Defence

The coroner at the inquest into a soldier from Wiltshire who was one of three to die on an exercise in Wales has begun giving her verdict. Cpl James Dunsby from Trowbridge died from multiple organ failure and hyperthermia (overheating) on the SAS exercise in the Brecon Beacons on a hot day in July two years ago.

The Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt said the organisers of the exercise had failed to made dynamic risk assessments, gave inadequate briefings and left the reservist candidates confused as to where water would be.

The trainees were given no advice about water consumption and organisers identified the wrong hospital as being the closest for casualties. One commander admitted he did not know the day's weather forecast.

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