Wife of soldier Stephen Allbutt criticises Ministry of Defence's decision to appeal landmark ruling
WAR widow Debi Allbutt has accused the Ministry of Defence of 'dirty tricks' after an appeal was made to the Supreme Court to overturn a landmark legal ruling allowing forces' families to sue the Government.
Debi, pictured below, aged 46, has so far spent 10-years trying to hold the MoD to account over the death of her husband, Stephen Allbutt, in March 2003.
Corporal Allbutt, aged 35, from Sneyd Green, was killed when his tank was hit by a shell fired from another British tank near Basra, in Iraq.
Mrs Allbutt is attempting to sue the Government for negligence. She claims her husband's tank was not equipped with available technology, and that Cpl Allbutt and fellow soldiers had not been provided with the adequate vehicle recognition training prior to military operations in Iraq.
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Trooper David Clarke, aged 19, of Littleworth, Stafford, was killed alongside Cpl Allbutt and soldiers Dan Twiddy, of Lincolnshire, and Andy Julien, of Bolton, were also badly hurt.
The MoD had attempted to stop her negligence claim from progressing and first tried to get it kicked out in June 2011. When that failed, the MoD appealed the decision in June last year.
And it was that appeal which was thrown out in October, in an historic ruling, when Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger described the MoD's arguments as 'fatally flawed'.
Now the MoD will ask the Supreme Court – the UK's highest court – to overturn that ruling next week.
The Supreme Court hearing will be held over four days and will see the MoD challenge two sets of claimants and the families of Private Lee Ellis, Private Philip Hewett and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, who were all killed by improvised explosive devices in incidents involving Snatch Land Rovers.
The MoD continues to argue that it should be released from any duty of care owed to soldiers for failing to adequately equip them.
Mrs Allbutt, of Sneyd Green, said: "What is so bad about it is how they have done it. It is like a dirty trick.
"The MoD said it wasn't going to appeal, now it has launched an appeal to a separate human rights case and made mine part of it. It is a totally different case, I don't understand how they have been allowed to do it.
"We were working on our civil case, we had no idea this was coming up. It is just fight after fight after fight."
Lawyer Shubhaa Srinivasan, from Leigh Day, said: "This is an incredibly complex set of legal arguments. Essentially the MoD are appealing against an appeal brought by the families of those killed in the Snatch Land Rover Incidents.
"In doing so their arguments bring up the question of negligence once again and so our clients have been dragged back to the Courts despite an emphatic victory in October 2012.
"Our wish is to see the MoD take as much trouble to properly equip its service personnel as it does in instructing lawyers against those who have fought and died bravely on behalf of the country."