Family of murdered Red Cap Simon Miller to sue the Ministry of Defence

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THE family of an Army Red Cap killed by an Iraqi mob are suing the Ministry of Defence for negligence.

Corporal Simon Miller was killed alongside five other Royal Military Police officers when a 400-strong mob descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in Iraq in June 2003.

SET TO SUE ... John Miller with a portrait of his son Simon.

SET TO SUE ... John Miller with a portrait of his son Simon.

His father John has now announced he will launch legal action against the MoD for negligence, following a landmark ruling at the Supreme Court last month.

It emerged today that lawyers for the family of Corporal Russell Aston, 30, who was from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, launched a legal claim alleging that commanders failed to take reasonable measures to keep him and his fellow military police officers safe.

Mr Miller, 62, has confirmed he will join them.

“We want the MoD to accept accountability, which will give us a sense of justice.”

Mr Miller, who is a former soldier, said the Red Caps would have survived if they had enough ammunition, satelite communication and proper vehicles.

He said two days before his son was murdered, 12 members of the Parachute Regiment were rescued from the same area when a mob of 500 locals stoned them.

“They were extracted by a quick reaction force because they had the right communication system,” he said.

“The Red Caps waited and waited and nobody came for them, and they were brutally murdered.

“If the MoD thinks we are going to go away, they are sorely mistaken.”

Mr Miller disagreed that the new legal ruling would make it impossible for commanders to make swift decisions during operations.

“If the soldiers are equipped correctly, there would not be any issues,” he said.

“Give them the tools to do their jobs.”

Mr Miller felt others would join the legal action.

“I am going to speak to a couple of other families and hopefully they will add their weight to it,” he said.

“The guys were murdered because they couldn’t defend themselves, because they couldn’t call for help.

“This is not a case of the equipment not being there, they just weren’t given it.

“It’s 10 long years ago but it feels like yesterday to us. It’s an open wound that will never heal.

“I promised my son from day one, after I found out the failings, that as long as I had breath, I would fight for him.”

Mr Miller is paying a solicitor in Baghdad in the hope of bringing the killers to justice.

He said the area where they live is still considered too dangerous for the Iraqi authorities to intervene.

The legal action claims the MoD was negligent because the Red Caps were not supplied with sufficient ammunition to defend themselves, or roadworthy vehicles or effective communications.

It is expected that families of the other Red Caps who died in the incident will join the legal action, the lawyer for the Aston family said.

The other RMP officers were Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire and Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales.

Solicitor-Advocate Simon McKay, who is acting for the families of Cpl Aston and Cpl Miller, said: “The claims follow a recent Supreme Court ruling extending the reach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to some theatres of war and the scope of combat immunity as a defence available to the Ministry of Defence.”

He said the claim alleges that the Government breached Article 2 of European Convention by failing to take measures that it was expected to in light of the “real and immediate risk to life” of the soldiers.

Mr McKay said the claim includes allegations of a failure to provide sufficient ammunition on June 24, 2003; a failure to provide roadworthy vehicles; and a failure to ensure effective communications were provided to the soldiers.

He said it would be open to the MoD to argue that the claims were out of time, but he hoped it would not try to “avoid accountability of a technical basis”.

“The justice of the case demands the families get a fair hearing,” he added.

The move comes after families of British soldiers killed and injured fighting in Iraq were last month given the go-ahead to bring compensation claims against the Government.

The Supreme Court – the highest court in the UK – ruled that damages claims could be launched under legislation covering negligence and human rights.

At the time, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he was concerned at the “wider implications” of the judgment, which potentially threw open a range of military decisions to the “uncertainty of litigation”.

Asked about the launch of legal action by Cpl Aston’s family, an MoD spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of those who lost their lives in this incident. However, it would be inappropriate to comment on any forthcoming legal proceedings.”