A Scottish paratrooper who lost a leg when he stepped on a mine in Afghanistan has won a £1.7m compensation payout, and the mother of one of the 14 RAF officers who died when their Nimrod exploded on another Afghanistan mission was awarded £100,000 compensation.
Both actions were against the Ministry of Defence.
Sergeant Stuart Pearson lost his leg as he was trying to rescue colleagues when their platoon became trapped in a minefield which was not marked on their maps.
The September 2006 tragedy in Helmand province also killed Corporal Mark Wright and injured five others from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment. The mission was marred by the lack of helicopters with a winch. The downdraft from one aircraft set off a mine, killing Cpl Wright.
Judge Nicholas Chambers, QC, at London’s High Court, was told that 35-year-old Mr Pearson’s right foot was so badly damaged it might also need to be amputated should a planned “triple fusion” operation with only a 70% success rate fail.
The court was told that Mr Pearson still suffers acute and chronic pain.
Counsel Paul Rose, QC, said the soldier, from East Kilbride but who now lives near Edinburgh, remained active despite his injuries.
As well as compensation for his “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”, the MoD agreed to pay him £600,000 for prosthetics he will need and £270,000 for his future care. The total payout came to £1.7m.
Further compensation may be paid out in the future if the second amputation goes ahead.
Cases involving services personnel injured in the face of the enemy very rarely make it to court because the Crown has “combat immunity” against such claims.
However, Paul Harrington – Mr Pearson’s solicitor – said he was able to mount a conventional negligence claim against the MoD, alleging “breach of duty before contact with the enemy”. Allegations made by the paratrooper’s lawyers included that his platoon was not issued with a map, which would have shown the minefield’s location, and that no appropriate helicopters were available to rescue them.
Mrs Diane Swarbrick who sued the MoD following the death of her son, Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick said she felt "relief" after a jury at the Court of Session in Edinburgh decided she deserved every penny of the £100,000 settlement.
Co-pilot Swarbrick was one of 14 on board the plane who died in 2006 after the aircraft caught fire during a midair refueling.
It was maintained there was no adequate fire detection and suppression system on board.