BAFF Chairman says ill informed criticism of human rights ruling could lead to dangerous confusion
There may well be questions to be considered in light of the ruling which was issued by the Appeal Court on 18 May 2009: for example, to what extent there are implications for decisions about the equipping and management of bases, or whether in fact the ruling does not alter the existing military requirement to consider force protection.
BAFF Executive Chairman Douglas Young was concerned that rather than the ruling itself, it was "ill-informed" criticism of the ruling which could lead to "dangerous confusion" amongst junior commanders required to make split-second decisions.
In a contribution to a discussion on the 'Army Rumour Service' blog - a discussion which was itself featured on BBC News - Young argued that:
There is no reason anyway for the HRA to come into a combat decision as in your scenario.
With British forces engaged in serious operations, there must be concern that some of the recent commentary ... may cause junior commanders to start looking over their shoulder when there is actually no reason to,
Former infantry CO Patrick Mercer MP, in a radio discussion with me yesterday, had no difficulty in expressing his reservations without creating that sort of unnecessary confusion. Not everyone has been so careful.
Young also stated in the same discussion on 19 May that:
Yesterday's Appeal Court ruling arises from a disputed inquest, not a compensation claim, or a criminal case. The significance of the "Right to Life" in relation to an inquest is not that a State can guarantee the lives of its citizens in all circumstances, which would be absurd, especially so in relation to armed forces personnel on operations.
No, the significance of the "Right to Life" is the investigatory obligation placed upon a State following the death of a subject due to some external or preventable cause, i.e. to investigate the death in order to identify any preventable cause and where possible to prevent a recurrence in the future.
Concerns have been expressed about commanders suddenly having to take personal responsibility for some deficiency in the equipment provided. I agree that would be totally wrong and I have already said that I would be in their corner if that happened.
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