Stamford soldier Dan Twiddy wins right to sue Government for negligence

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A FORMER soldier wounded in a friendly fire incident has won the right to sue the Government for negligence following a High Court judge’s ruling.

Daniel Twiddy, 31, of Drift Road, Stamford, is one of four damages claims which have been given the go-ahead to progress following a ruling by Mr Justice Owen yesterday.

Mr Twiddy suffered facial injuries when his Challenger II tank was mistakenly fired at and hit by another British tank in Iraq in March 2003.

He was medically discharged in 2005, following the incident which happened on the fourth day of the assault on Basra. He now runs his own plastering business in the Stamford area.

Cpl Stephen Albutt, from Stoke-on-Trent, was killed in the incident and Pte Andy Julien, of Bolton, was severely wounded. Legal action is also being pursued by Cpl Albutt’s widow Debi and Mr Julien.

A spokesman for Mr Twiddy’s legal representatives hailed the ruling as a “real victory” for British troops.

Relatives had argued that the MoD failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives and should pay compensation.

Ministry of Defence bosses said decisions about battlefield equipment were for politicians and military commanders.

The MoD said it aimed to appeal.

A spokesman for Leigh, Day & Co, which is representing Mr Twiddy, said: “It is a real victory for all service personnel.”

There are also three other compensation cases on three separate incidents in which soldiers were fatally wounded in Iraq in their “Snatch” Land Rovers.

The judge blocked separate attempts to seek compensation from the Government under human rights legislation, although relatives said they would appeal against that ruling.

Mr Justice Owen heard that compensation claims had been made following an incident in which a British Challenger tank opened fire on another British Challenger tank after an officer became “disorientated” and incidents in which soldiers died after “Snatch” Land Rovers hit improvised bombs.

Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, died in July 2005 after a “Snatch” Land Rover was blown up.

Similar explosions claimed the lives of Pte Lee Ellis, 23, of Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, in February 2006, and L/Cpl Kirk Redpath, 22, of Romford, Essex, in August 2007.

Mr Justice Owen said issues or procurement and the “allocation of finite resources” may give rise to “complex and difficult” questions of an “essentially political nature”. But he said he was not persuaded that such issues afforded a “blanket exclusion of liability”.

Lawyers said the ruling on negligence meant that a claim brought on behalf of Pte Ellis’s 10-year-old daughter Courtney, plus claims by Cpl Allbutt’s widow, Debi, and Mr Twiddy and Mr Julien could continue.