Ministry of Defence escapes prosecution after deaths of three SAS selection candidates

The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/ministry-of-defence-escapes-prosecution-over-deaths-on-sas-march-a6908141.html) reports that The Ministry of Defence has escaped prosecution over the deaths of three soldiers on an SAS selection course, only thanks to a convention that it is granted immunity.

The Health and Safety Executive announced that it was reprimanding the Ministry of Defence with an official censure– the highest action it can take in the circumstances and seen as the equivalent of a manslaughter prosecution, following the deaths from heat exhaustion of Lance Corporals Craig Roberts and Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby. Unlike individuals, private companies or other public bodies, the Ministry of Defence enjoys a historical legal immunity from prosecution. Despite the Crown Censure for failing to protect its staff, there is no fine involved.

An inquest into the three deaths, which occurred during a training march to qualify for the elite regiment, heard it took place on one of the hottest days of the year with inadequate supervision, medical support or water supplies. A coroner later concluded that “a catalogue of serious mistakes and systemic failures” by the military, amounting to “neglect” were to blame for their deaths. The inquests heard evidence that those running the SAS selection course were either ignorant of or failed to follow the Army’s own safety guidelines.

Neil Craig, HSE Operations Head, said: “Health and safety is not about stopping people from doing dangerous work or being properly prepared for military duties, however such testing needs to be managed effectively. The Ministry of Defence has a duty to manage risks during training exercises. It failed to do so on this occasion.”

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