Family of soldier killed in Iraq fight for compensation

Private Lee Ellis

Families of soldiers killed fighting in Iraq will today ask the UK's most senior judges to rule that they can bring damages claims against the Government, lawyers say.

Relatives want the right to sue for negligence and 'substandard equipment' as well as making claims under human rights legislation.

Judges at the High court will hear claims several soldiers including one from Greater Manchester died because their military vehicles were not suitable for the job. Private Lee Ellis, 23 from Whythenshawe died in 2006 when his Snatch Land Rover was blown up.

His relatives say he should have been in an armoured vehicle and been given other equipment which could have saved his life.

Lawyers representing families say Corporal Stephen Allbutt, 35, of Sneyd Green, 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. Trooper David Clarke, 19, of Littleworth, Staffordshire, also died during the incident.

Soldiers Dan Twiddy, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, and Andy Julien, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were badly hurt in the incident, said lawyers.

A Supreme Court spokesman said a panel of justices would analyse three central legal issues:

:: Whether British soldiers killed during military operations abroad were within the jurisdiction of the UK for the purposes of Article 1 - which protects the right to life - of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

:: Whether the MoD owed a duty to the deceased soldiers pursuant to Article 2 - which imposes a duty on authorities to protect the right to life by law - of the ECHR.

:: Whether complaints of negligence are covered by the doctrine of combat immunity and whether it would be fair to impose a duty of care on the MoD.