Des Browne wants to silence Coroners' verdicts

Des Browne, according to the Daily Torygraph, is seeking to curtail coroners in finding against the MOD in the deaths of service personnel when this has been attributed to "serious failings". To put it another way, compensation issues aside, he does not want the government of the day getting blamed for the indirect consequences of policy decisions reached by Ministers.

Daily Telegraph: 18 March 2008
Also as opinion seems just to be coming in line on the lads side, Des sticks hishead above the parapet like this, perhaps a career limiting move on his behalf
I can see their point, up to a point. Criticising and laying open MoD and Government decisions as a contribution to deaths is good in "peacetime" operations. Regrettably, some Coroners have openly criticised, from the comfort of their Court, the operational decisions of commanders in the Field. I do not think that is good and consider it subversive and not in our best military interests.
Passed-over_Loggie said:
I can see their point, up to a point. Criticising and laying open MoD and Government decisions as a contribution to deaths is good in "peacetime" operations. Regrettably, some Coroners have openly criticised, from the comfort of their Court, the operational decisions of commanders in the Field. I do not think that is good and consider it subversive and not in our best military interests.
Perhaps but if the coroners had not had to put up with quite so much non cooperation and hassle from the MOD perhaps they would not be quite as tetchy. What goes around comes around and the MOD has made the coroners inquests almost a mockery at times, are you surprised the coroners sometimes go overboard. The system is a mess and the MOD must bear most of the blaim for trying to manipulate the system.
I don't think that Swiss Des and his Scottish comrades have much hope of gagging the English Coroners. HMG are relying on the courts to re-interpret Coroners Rules to suit the government. Doubtful reasoning because Rule 32 allows a coroner to express an opinion as to how, when and where a deceased came by his/her death. Rule 42 merely prevents the coroner from appearing to determine criminal or civil liability.

Potential_Officer said:
What ever happened to Ministerial Responsibility? You make the decision, you must live with that decision! Especially if your penny pinching costs lives needlessly.
Do you remember tha last Tory Home Secretary, Michael Howard... how he delegated responsibility when things went wrong but took all the credit when things went well? I can also clearly remember him, shortly after I had been assaulted in London, claiming that Victims of crime were responsible for what happened to them... and very few fellow (Tory)backbenchers criticised him for it at the time!
I'm surprised the right honourable (doubtful) member (definitely) and Minister for all matters north of the border has time to consider such trivialities as defence of the realm and all matters associated there with.
Oh hang on. It was him who was criticised. Silly me.
If some of the Coroner's verdicts and opinions cause "Those who must be obeyed" to get their collective heads out of their arses and act upon them by providing sufficient kit of proper standard, then I have no problem with any criticisms made. For the MoD to try and gag the Coroner is the latest in a long line of Government procratinations - A pox on the lot of them.


War Hero
Mark Steel's take on Des's attempts to silence the coroners from yesterday's Independent, I realise he's not everyone's cup of tea however I'm a big fan of the socialist comedian so don't give a flying feck.

Of all the shady reasons for supporting the war in Iraq, the weakest was always how it was our duty to "Support our boys," as they couldn't do their job if people back home were critical. To start with, this doesn't seem logical. Is there any evidence that tank commanders were about to fire off a volley of missiles, but then hesitated saying "Ooh I'm not sure I can go through with it because there was this sniffy letter in The Independent"?

But more important=, what a strange idea that the only true way to support someone is to cheer them into a situation that's likely to get them killed. If these "supporters" ever find themselves looking up at a tower block, with someone 15 floors up threatening to jump off the balcony as friends delicately try to coax him back, they must shout, "Don't undermine him – it's up to all of us to support him – jump, man, jump! Go on – here's Zoe, 22 from Clacton in a G-string and paratrooper's cap. She supports you, so dive!"

Inevitably, once the supported boys started returning from war with bits missing, the governments and newspapers that backed them most enthusiastically decide that they're an embarrassing nuisance. Then their attitude becomes like that of the First World War general who, when he visited a hospital full of soldiers back from the Somme with shell shock, shouted, "Why are you shivering? Only drunkards and masturbators freeze." This must be what causes so many old people to conk out from hypothermia every winter, the filthy minxes.

But that general has been challenged for callousness by defence minister Des Browne, who yesterday went to the High Court to try and prevent a coroner from criticising the Ministry of Defence, during inquests on soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The trouble is that a coroner reported, in the inquest into the death of Capt James Phillipson, that the soldier had been given, "a lack of basic equipment". Whereas from now on, presumably, he'll have to say, "The soldier had piles of equipment, so much he didn't know where to put it all. What must have happened is, well, obviously, I've got it – the Taliban magicked it away, with their equipment vanishing cream. So there we are, no one to blame, just one of those things, I'm afraid."

The attempted injunction fits in with the government's attitude to wounded soldiers. For example, families of those who've been disabled have complained about the system for compensation, which only takes into account the three worst injuries received. I'm not an expert on the details of modern warfare, but I'd guess that if you're blown up by a roadside bomb you might be injured in more than three places. This doesn't seem to occur to the Ministry of Defence, who must say to applicants for compensation "All right, Wilkins, so you're trying to tell me that when you were blown across the road by a barrel of explosives you injured not only an arm, a foot and an ear but other bits as well? Do you take us for mugs?"

This procedure has meant that, for example, when Sgt Martin Edwardes came back from Iraq with brain damage, his compensation was £114,000, a fraction of what will be needed to provide him with the 24-hour care he now depends on. Or there's Martyn Compton, who was in a coma for three months, has 70 per cent burns, no ears left, and received £98,000. They'd have got more if they'd been astute enough to suffer three huge injuries instead of dozens of medium-sized ones. Maybe we'll soon see Carol Vorderman asking, "Why not consolidate all your minor amputations into one manageable paralysis?"

Perhaps the next move will be to franchise compensation payments out to the Private Finance Initiative, so disabled soldiers will be instructed to attract investment by converting their wheelchair into a mobile Costa Coffee outlet. Or the system will be made more efficient by placing it into private hands, so the severely wounded will have to attract sponsorship. For example, if they have to use a voice box, it will be programmed to say things like, "Please – take – me – to – the – toilet – Thank – you – this – request – was – brought – to – you – by – Legal – and – General."

Throughout the coverage of the fifth anniversary of the war, there have been discussions around the "mistakes" made in planning the occupation. But the government's attitude towards those whose lives have been wrecked for their vanity project shows the problem wasn't "mistakes", in the execution of the plan, but the whole project. Unless they'll claim, "When we began this operation, whoever could have anticipated that when we invaded the country, some of these chaps would start firing back? I mean – we can't predict everything now, can we?"

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