The Ministry of Defence (MoD), like any other employer, is required to risk assess and should do so as regards the safety of its training exercises, something that has been blatantly ignored or paid lip service to too often in the past says leading military injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors.

A new report from the Defence Committee, published on Sunday 24 April states that the MoD can, and should, be held responsible in cases of corporate manslaughter after it was revealed that a number of ‘serious yet avoidable failings in training safety and risk assessment’ had occurred.

The all party report argues that the current exemption from prosecution for the MoD under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 should be removed.

Between 1 January 2000 and 20 February 2016, 135 Armed Forces personnel have died whilst on training and exercise. The Defence Committee stated that the family and friends of these service men and women ‘need to have confidence that lessons have been learned for the future’.

Military accident law experts from Thompsons Solicitors have consistently argued that more must be done to protect military personnel who are injured during service.

David Robinson, of Thompsons Solicitors said: “Battlefield injuries are sadly statistically inevitable but that shouldn’t be the case whilst training. We have seen too many situations where the MoD hasn’t even followed its own policies and guidance in training exercises, which is completely unacceptable.

“We welcome the recommendations of the Defence Committee and agree that the MoD should be held to account when injuries or fatalities occur. We fear, from what we have seen time and again, that lessons won’t otherwise be learnt and action like carrying out and then following a simple risk assessment won’t be taken.
“Too often service men and women’s military careers are cut short by avoidable accidents during training which lead to their discharge from the military.

“The guidelines are there to protect our brave, hardworking service personnel. While a legal remedy should absolutely be in place should the worst occur, for many families it is too little, too late. Proper risk assessments and safeguards should be the by-words of the MoD, not an afterthought.”