Ministry of Defence to appeal human rights ruling

The ministry of Defence (MoD) will appeal a ruling by the High Court that found sending British soldiers out on duty with defective equipment may breach their human rights.

Justice Collins said it had to be recognised that the lives of members of the Armed Forces when sent to fight or keep order abroad “cannot receive absolute protection”.

The MoD had argued that it was “impossible to afford to soldiers who were on active service outside their bases the benefits of the Human Rights Act”.

However, Collins added: “But the soldier does not lose all protection simply because he is in hostile territory carrying out dangerous operations.

“Thus, for example, to send a soldier out on patrol or, indeed, into battle with defective equipment, could constitute a breach of Article 2 (right to life) under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “The MoD does not consider that this judgement reflects legal precedents on the application of Article 1 and Article 2 of the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights).

“We have been granted leave to appeal against this judgment to the Court of Appeal. It would not be appropriate to comment further while this appeal is in progress.”

Judge Collins also rejected an attempt by defence secretary Des Browne to ban coroners from using phrases such as “serious failure” in inquests concerning troops who died while on duty.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The MoD sought – and has now received – clarification on a point of law. At no point was the MoD attempting to prevent coroners from undertaking independent investigations and making their findings public. We co-operate fully with inquests and are committed to learning whatever lessons they hold.”

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