Service Personnel (Deaths Overseas)
Jonathan Djanogly (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (HM Courts Service and Legal Aid), Justice; Huntingdon, Conservative)
My hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces and I wish to make the latest of our quarterly statements to the House giving details of the inquests of service personnel who have died overseas. As always, we would like to express our abiding gratitude to all of our service personnel who have served, or are now serving, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our thoughts remain with the families of those service personnel who have given their lives for their country in connection with the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We particularly remember the families of the 15 service personnel who have died since our last statement in January.
In this statement we are announcing the current status of inquests conducted by the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner, the Oxfordshire coroner, and other coroners in England and Wales. This statement gives the position at
I have placed tables in the Libraries of both Houses to supplement this statement. The tables display the status of all current cases and the date of death in each case. They include information about those cases where a board of inquiry or a service inquiry has been held.
The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice will continue to work closely together, seeking to improve our processes and to continue the Government’s support for coroners who are conducting these inquests. We would take this further opportunity to express our thanks to coroners and their staff, and to all who seek to support families and provide information, throughout the inquest process and afterwards.
To prevent a backlog of inquests from developing, both Departments have provided funding for additional resources since October 2007. Prior to
Current status of inquests
Since the last statement there have been 20 inquests into the deaths of service personnel on operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. A total of 537 inquests have been held into the deaths of service personnel who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 24 service personnel who died in the UK of their injuries. No formal inquest was held in three other cases. In two of these cases the deaths were taken into consideration during inquest proceedings for those who died in the same incident. In the third case, where the serviceman died of his injuries in Scotland, it was decided not to hold a fatal accident inquiry.
Fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan
There are currently 44 open inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty of these involve deaths in the last six months.
The Wiltshire and Swindon coroner has retained 11 of the remaining open inquests, the Oxfordshire coroner has retained 14 and 19 are being conducted by coroners closer to the next of kin. Hearing dates have been set in four cases.
There is one remaining open inquest into deaths from operations in Iraq.
Inquests into the deaths of service personnel who returned home injured
Six inquests remain to be held for service personnel who returned home injured and subsequently died of their injuries. Those cases will be listed for hearing when the continuing investigations are completed.
We shall continue to inform the House of progress.