Sunday, January 22, 2006

As the Government Changes its Casualty Statistics British Soldiers Prepare to Sue MOD

Unthinkable just a week ago, the defence secretary John Reid last Friday conceded Britain had sustained 'thousands of casualties'. The first confirmation that the complexities of the Iraq conflict has exerted an adverse psychological impact on a vast pool of British servicemen and women has started to emerge.... More damaging though is news that 15 British soldiers who recently served in Iraq are to sue the government over claims it failed to help them cope with the psychological trauma of the conflict.

...A year ago, a parliamentary answer put the number of British servicemen and women wounded in Iraq at 794. Last Wednesday afternoon, The Observer was sent figures by the MoD claiming that 177 British men and women had been wounded as a result of hostile action in Iraq. Shortly after midday last Friday this had changed again when Reid announced that in fact this figure was 230, including 40 very seriously injured. At least 11 are known to have lost limbs. The previous figure of almost 800 was suddenly 'withdrawn' and would 'never be used again'. Sources from the MoD struggled to explain the sudden discrepancy, saying only that previous figures were invalid. But the new data raised their own questions, omitting as it did, the fact that 3,800 UK personnel had been hospitalised after being airlifted from Iraq without any detailed explanation of their condition. As Reid said: 'It depends upon the definition of casualty.'