MoD refuses to compensate family

THE Government will not try to change the law to compensate the family of Sergeant Major Bernard Adamson who was shot dead in May 1972, by a soldier now serving a life sentence for the horrific murder of a prostitute in Manchester in 1989.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell asked the Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Mark Francois, if he would consider reviewing the legislation to facilitate compensation for the Adamson family.

The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) member was shot dead by Duncan McLuckie, a regular soldier with the Royal Signals, whilst taking part in a training exercise in Letterbreen, Fermanagh, on May 17, 1972. McLuckie was later convicted in 1989 for skewering and strangling a prostitute to death in England.

The 29-year-old father of four had been pretending to be an IRA terrorist when he was killed during one of the most bloody months of the Northern Ireland Troubles: Ranger William Best and Manus Deery, where amongst those to lose their lives within days of Sergeant Major Adamson’s death.

The simulated terrorist attack ended in tragedy because due to the proximity of the border the soldiers had been issued with live rounds but without attachments to their rifles to prevent the bullets being fired.

McLuckie told an inquest in 1972 that he never intended to fire the live round at the deceased.

Although no criminal charges were brought against McLuckie he was convicted of negligent handling of a weapon contrary to Section 69 of the Army Act 1955 and fined. An Inquest was conducted in Belfast on December 13, 1972 and the jury return an ‘open’ verdict.

Years later McLuckie was jailed for stabbing and throttling a prostitute to death.

According to court records he picked up a prostitute in his car in central Manchester on January 25, 1989, before driving her to a side street for sex.

He then deliberately and in cold blood stabbed her with a skewer causing multiple stab wounds and the throttled her using both hands. Death was due to strangulation although one of the stab wounds would have been fatal if death from strangulation had not intervened.

An attaché case containing a hammer, a piece of wood, metal skewers and two ace of spades playing cards were found in his car following the offence.

The sixty-year-old is now serving a life sentence for the murder.

Last week DUP MP Gregory Campbell asked MoD Minister Mark Francois “with reference to the death of Sergeant Major Adamson by accidental discharge in May 1972 and subsequent inquest in June 2011, if he will review the legislation that precludes any payment to relatives in such circumstances.”

But Mr Francois was adamant the question had been examined sufficiently and there are no further plans to review the legislation.

He explained that prior to May 1987, service personnel (or their dependants in the case of a fatality) were prevented from pursuing claims for compensation from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947.

However, Section 10 was repealed by the Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987, and this was then subject to debate at Westminster.

“When the House debated the repeal of section 10, the question of retrospection was considered and motions to allow all past and present members of the armed forces or their dependants to pursue compensation claims for injury or death were moved: However, they were defeated or withdrawn. The view then, as it is now, was that there was no logical point at which to draw a line, short of trying to cover all types of injury, and this would create more examples of unfairness and injustice,” said Mr Francois.

Secion 10 of the law was further challenged on the basis that is was incompatible with the European Convention of human rights but, once again, the Law Lords found for the MoD.

“The Law Lords heard the matter on 13 and 14 January 2003 and a unanimous judgment was handed down on 13 February 2003 in favour of the MoD. The MoD’s position concerning the payment of claims predating the repeal of section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act remains unchanged.

“There is no plan to review this legislation,” said Mr Francois.