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Blamed major may sue army
2:40pm Tuesday 30th October 2012 in News
A former soldier is considering suing the Army after he claims he was wrongly blamed for causing the death of a colleague in Afghanistan.
A damning Ministry of Defence (MoD) report into Captain James Philippson’s death pointed the finger of blame at Major Jonny Bristow, saying “tactical failings” led to his 29-year-old colleague’s death.
The 2007 report, which has been seen by The Argus and which blanks out Major Bristow’s name, said it was largely due to his failings that Captain Philippson died in Sangin in June 2006.
A 2008 inquest exonerated Major Bristow of any blame and led to Captain Philippson’s father saying he did not blame the soldier for his son’s death.
At the inquest Oxford coroner Anthony Walker said: “The soldiers were defeated not by the terrorists but by the lack of basic equipment.”
Now it is understood that Major Bristow, who quit over the report, has contacted the MoD and suggested he might sue for defamation.
A national newspaper said in a formal complaint to the Director of Personal Services, Major Bristow wrote: “My reputation has been damaged.
“I wish to establish why such a fundamentally flawed report was allowed to be ratified.
“Furthermore, I sincerely believe the integrity and credibility of the Army's judicial system has been damaged.
“Those officers who wrote the report should be held to account for their actions and made to understand the damage and distress they have caused.”
Crawley MP Henry Smith has vowed to investigate the matter as Major Bristow lives in his constituency.
He said: “I am very disturbed that the MoD should blame an officer for a colleague’s death when there were equipment failings.”
Fellow MP Tobias Ellwood, who attended the inquest, said he feared there had been a cover-up.
He added: “To hear this has still not been resolved after all this time is dreadful.”
A MoD spokeswoman yesterday said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Captain Philippson.
“The Service Inquiry report into his death recognised and paid tribute to both the tenacity and courage of Major Bristow.”
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