Northern Ireland

MoD denies compensation to family of shot UDR soldier

Bernard Adamson
Image caption Bernard Adamson was shot by another soldier in 1972.

The Ministry of Defence is refusing to compensate the family of a UDR soldier killed during a training exercise in Enniskillen almost 40 years ago.

Bernard Adamson was fatally wounded after a colleague accidentally fired a live round instead of blanks in 1972.

He was a sergeant major in the UDR at the time.

Mr Adamson's daughter believes her mother deserves some form of compensation from the MoD.

"She was left with four children to raise on her own without any help from the UDR or the army," said Catherine Adamson.

"They never gave her any help.

"After I read about the decision on Bloody Sunday recently, I would have thought that they had learnt their lesson."

Sgt Maj Adamson was playing the role of a terrorist in the training exercise at Letterbreen.

Negligence

He was shot by 19-year-old Pte Duncan McLuckey, who had mistakenly loaded a live magazine into his gun instead of blank ammunition.

McLuckey was later fined £43 for his part in the death.

Earlier this year, a fresh inquest was held and a jury decided the shooting was accidental but that the decision to use mixed ammunition contributed to the soldier's death.

They also said there had been inadequate medical assistance and the soldier failed to have a blank attachment on the gun, which it was argued may have stopped the mistaken magazine being fired. In other words, it breached army regulations.

The Adamson family argued that this demonstrated gross negligence on the part of the MoD.

But the MoD has argued that it is prevented by law from paying compensation to the family.

Under the Crown Proceedings Act, the MoD said relatives of soldiers killed or injured prior to 1987 cannot claim for compensation.

'Appalling'

The Adamson family's lawyer, Des Doherty, said the legislation in relation to the case was "laughable".

"The loss that the family have endured may have started in 1972 but it has continued because there has been no police investigation into this case at all, and what is even worse is that there was a military investigation in 1972 which was withheld from the coroner.

"Everything about this case is appalling and every way in which this family have been treated by the MoD is appalling.

"I have no doubt that the family will continue to pursue this rigorously."

The East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell is to raise the case at Westminster on Thursday.

"Sergeant Major Adamson was killed in 1972, he was a member of the army and there were no disputed circumstances, and yet the MoD are saying they're not prepared to pay compensation.

"If they're prepared to pay compensation to the Bloody Sunday families why are they not prepared to pay compensation to Adamson?

"Either the family can appeal to Europe, or the MoD could make an ex gratia payment that would not set aside the law but could recognise the very unique circumstances of this family."

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