Armed Forces: Death

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the regional disparities within the UK for military deaths inquiries between 1990 and 2016, including the recognition given by the judiciary to such disparities; and (2) the impact of military deaths in Scotland not qualifying for mandatory fatal accident inquiries prior to 2017; and what plans they have to address any resulting issues identified.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

Inquests in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are carried out under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 respectively.

Inquests are carried out where a death was sudden, and the cause is unknown, where someone has died an unnatural or violent death, or where someone has died in a place or circumstance where there is legal requirement to hold an inquest, for example in prison custody or whilst sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

In Scotland fatal accident inquiries are carried out under the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016. A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) is mandated by the 2016 Act in certain circumstances, including in respect of military deaths in Scotland. Under the previous legislation -the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976- an FAI was not mandatory for such deaths.

The Ministry of Defence has not assessed the potential impact of different legislative regimes in place historically

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