BAFF spokespeople Weale and Young gave a number of interviews on 9 August in reaction to the reported retention of a relatively small number of tissue samples and body parts under the responsibility of the Special Investigation Branch (SIB), without the required liaison with the relevant next of kin. Mail: MoD secretly kept body parts of troops killed in Afghanistan from grieving families. Update:
The MOD telephone contact lines for those affected by this issue are now in operation. These numbers, for designated next of kin only, are listed at this MoD link: MOD investigates reports of Service personnel body part retention.
Update 2: According to Sky News tonight, one of the deceased soldiers died in 2002, which is much earlier than previously suggested. We are continuing to monitor the issue. Anyone affected is welcome to contact BAFF in confidence using the site contact form.
The day's BAFF broadcast interviews were on Radio 5Live, BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio Scotland. Our spokespeople regarded the matter as an administrative failure regarding consultation and consent, rather than any disrespect. The BAFF Chairman said that his heart went out to the mercifully small number of bereaved families directly affected by the issue, and also to the much larger number of bereaved families who might fear that they were involved.
The Human Tissues Act 2004 had introduced new consent requirements which apply equally to the military. The MoD's apology appeared to be sincere and genuine. We understood that urgent action was in progress, but we suggested that the matter be referred to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in order to give service personnel, families and the SIB themselves confidence that everything appropriate had been done.
In addition, we have a concern at the way in which the role of serving individuals had been discussed in one of the media stories, and we trust that they are receiving appropriate support from the service authorities.
- See also: From BritishForcesNews - Soldiers' body parts retained