By: 12 July 2016
Ministry of Defence is policing itself, say lawyers, after Government rejects proposals to reform military exemptions in the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007

Lawyers have accused the Ministry of Defence of policing itself after the Government announced that it was rejecting proposals to reform the military exemptions in the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007.

Hilary Meredith, CEO at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, said that the decision came as no surprise.

“Yet again the MoD is trying to wriggle out of responsibility for failings so grossly negligent they result in manslaughter,” said Meredith, who gave evidence to the Beyond Endurance inquiry, which earlier this year recommended that the MoD should be stripped of its historic immunity from prosecution when personnel are killed during training as a result of a serious failing in its duty of care.

“Only modest amendments to the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 would be required to ensure in such rare circumstances the MoD as a corporation would face sanctions or heavy fines and lessons would be learnt.

“The MoD admits itself that these circumstances would be few and far between so what does it have to fear? Why should the MoD be any different from any other large corporation when such terrible mistakes have been made? The MoD is still policing itself with no proper sanctions when things go disastrously wrong. Why will it not accept corporate responsibility?” she added.

Hilary Meredith Solicitors represented the father of Corporate James Dunsby at the inquest into the death of his son and two other SAS trainees (Lance-Corporal Edward Maher and Lance-Corporal Craig Roberts) who died from heat exhaustion on an endurance march in the Welsh Brecon Beacons, resulting in the Parliamentary Inquiry.

Philippa Tuckman, a partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors, who also gave evidence to the Beyond Endurance inquiry, said that it was shocking that MoD wanted to resist the extension of criminal responsibility, including corporate manslaughter.

“How can servicemen and women trust that the MoD really wants to improve its safety record if it tries to avoid responsibility in this way?” she said.