Wait adds still more insult to injury for Ben

A MINISTER has refused to say whether an "insulting" compensation plan for a horrifically injured Doncaster paratrooper will be increased.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13th September 2007, 11:06 am
Updated Friday, 14th September 2007, 10:38 am

Bob Ainsworth, a junior defence minister, said he did not know whether a review into the Ministry of Defence’s controversial compensation scheme would change the payout to Ben Parkinson.

The Star revealed last month how Ben - who lost both legs and suffered serious head injuries in a landmine explosion in Afghanistan - was awarded compensation for just three of his 37 injuries.

He was awarded 152,150 - just over half the 285,000 maximum award.

Ben’s plight led to an outcry, which forced the MoD to review claims for service personnel suffering multiple war wounds. But the review will only affect 23-year-old Ben’s payout if any changes to the compensation scheme are applied retrospectively.

Such a move could cost the Government a large amount because other badly wounded troops would then be eligible for increased compensation payouts.

Asked whether any changes to the compensation scheme would be applied retrospectively, Mr Ainsworth said: “I don’t know. I can’t give a commitment now.

“My colleague Derek Twigg is looking at this. He will try to deal with those issues and hopefully will report within a few weeks.

“We have got to listen to what the ramifications of that are and understand that. We are actively looking at the system to see where improvements need to be made.”

But adding to pressure on the Government the former head of the army, General Sir Mike Jackson, said: “People get bogged down in the minutiae of the rules and don’t really look at what the outcomes are.

“What is the right outcome for this young man who will suffer these injuries for the rest of his life?

“It’s that question of value - not worrying about small print but looking at what the right outcome for somebody in this position is.”

The current compensation scheme was introduced when he was in charge of the Army.

He said he was advised it was the best the armed services was going to get from the Treasury “whose heart is perhaps a little stony in these matters”.

He was told it was “best practice” and compared with the fire service and police service.

But he added: “With the greatest respect to those two services, soldiers are much more likely to take horrific injuries of this nature.”

Meanwhile, the Royal British Legion today claimed Britain has failed to live up to its duty of care to its armed forces and ex-servicemen and women.

The Legion says the 400-year-old Military Covenant - a mutual bond between the nation and its armed forces - must be honoured.