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The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Government have a duty to provide proper equipment and medical facilities for soldiers in war zones.

The decision comes on the back of the death from heatstroke of Private Jason Smith a member of the Territorial Army from Hawick, who died in Iraq in 2003. 

Private Smith collapsed and later died in hospital after telling medics several times that the heat was making him feel unwell.

Soldiers described conditions at the base as "unbearably hot" and as a "dusty hell hole". Tragically, a generator to power the air-conditioning system arrived at the base less than one day after his death.

Solicitor Advocate, Patrick McGuire of Thompsons, who represents other families of military personnel injured due to negligence in Iraq, welcomed the Court of Appeal Decision:

“The implications of this judgment are welcome and overdue – simply, our armed forces should be protected by the same Human Rights as the rest of us.  UK soldiers, must be afforded every opportunity to reasonably protect themselves.  No lives should be lost due to substandard equipment.”

Private Smith's mother, Catherine Smith, expressed relief at the decision and recognised other families facing similar battles:

"This victory is not for me, nothing can bring Jason back, but it is for all those brave men and women who are still risking their lives in our name," she said.

"It is also for families who still have to go through the trauma of an inquest.

"Jason lost his life and I really didn't want it happening again to any other family to go through what I'm going through. They need their rights, and the right to life is the main principle of this fight."

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth argued that the judgement: "has very serious implications for the ability of our forces - and those of our allies - to conduct military operations overseas."

"In the heat of battle during dynamic and fast- moving military operations on foreign territory, the UK could not secure the rights and freedoms which the Human Rights Act seeks to guarantee,"

Frank Maguire, Senior Partner of Thompsons Solicitors disagrees:

“Thompson are strong in our support of military personnel both at home and abroad and we are proud of our exclusive affiliation to the Royal British Legion.

  We recognise that each day thousands of Scottish military personnel risk their lives for their country and must be allowed to do so instantly as and when battle dictates.

However, for the Ministry of Defence to use war as an excuse to remove soldiers Human Rights is unacceptable. They can no longer avoid their responsibilities by uniformly pleading ‘Combat Immunity’ as they have in the past. Article 2 of the Human Rights Act imposes a positive obligation on them to take reasonable steps to safeguard life.”

The MoD has been given permission to challenge yesterday's verdict in the House of Lords

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