The mother of a South Tyneside Military Police officer killed by a baying mob in Iraq nine years ago has launched legal proceedings against the Ministry of Defence.
Patricia Long – mother of Corporal Paul Long, who died in June 2003 – is taking the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, to court in a quest for a fresh independent inquiry into her son’s death.
Cpl Long, 24, was killed alongside five of his Redcap colleagues – including South Shields-born Corporal Simon Miller – by a mob of Iraqis at a police station in Majar-al-Kabir.
The six men had been sent to the police station to meet with the local police force, which they were tasked to develop.
Lawyers say that the only communication device the six officers had was a Clansman radio, a piece of equipment so old and outdated it was completely useless in a built-up area and could only be used in open fields.
They were carrying so little ammunition that, had they fired their weapons, they would have ran out of ammunition in no more than a few seconds.
When the police station was surrounded by an angry and armed mob of locals, they were completely helpless.
The six, who were all killed, couldn’t communicate with headquarters to seek help, and they couldn’t summon aid from members of 1 Parachute Regiment who were just a few metres away in the town at the same time.
Mrs Long, 60, of Hebburn, believes that she and the other families are entitled to answers about the deaths of her son and his colleagues, including why they were not given functional communications equipment and why they were given so little ammunition.
Over the years, the MoD set up a series of internal army investigations, including a Board of Inquiry which was specifically directed “not to attribute blame”.
An inquest was held in 2006, but lawyers say it did not have a wide enough remit to provide the family with answers and accountability.
The legal claim launched at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday seeks a new, independent, and effective inquiry into the deaths.
Mrs Long said: “All we have ever asked for is the truth of what happened on that fateful day and for those responsible, both directly and indirectly, to be held accountable.
“So far, we have had neither, and are still waiting for answers to questions we asked nearly a decade ago.”
Phil Shiner, a solicitor, of Public Interest Lawyers, said: “It is plain to see that these brave young men were unnecessarily killed because of systemic failings and culpable neglect by the chain of command.
“The MoD says it has nothing to hide, so now is the time for that to be proven.”