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Military Families Blog

INQUESTION MARKS

27-11-2007

Civilian inquests are usually carried out in a matter of weeks, but as Carol Jones reveals, military familes who’ve lost a loved one often have to wait months or even years to find out exactly what happened. Discovering the truth can cost them money too.

Rose Gentle had to wait three and a half years for the inquest of the death of her son Gordon. He was killed in a 'snatch' Land Rover by a roadside bomb.

At the inquest it came out that the Electronic Counter Measures (or ECM's) were in a store room sitting idle. These scramble the bomb. If they had been fitted to the 'Snatch' Gordon would be alive today.

But it’s not the Land Rover I am talking about today, it’s the length of time it takes to bring the inquests to the Coroners Court.

Most families of fallen soldiers have to wait more than twelve months, some up to four years – a delay that would never be tolerated in civilian life. So why is it accepted in the Forces?

Mrs Gentle was told the budget for her son’s inquest had been exhausted and to ensure that all the relevant witnesses could be heard she had to find personal ways of getting extra funding to carry it on. Even though she was eventually able to prove that Army negligence contributed to her son’s death, there’s no compensation for the cost she’s incurred in getting at the truth.

Justice should not depend on how deep your pockets are.

Why do these inquests take so long to organise? After four years witnesses may well have forgotten the important details. Why should families have to foot the bill for these inquests? Surely that’s the government’s responsibility.

After all our troops are fighting for Queen and Country.

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