Bereaved mother wins Land Rover judicial review

By Liz Stephens

The mother whose son was killed serving in Iraq has won the right to a judicial review of the government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the use of Snatch Land Rovers.

The lightly armoured vehicles have been criticised for offering insufficient protection to soldiers from bomb blasts.

Susan Smith, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, is entitled to a High Court judicial review of their use.

Ms Smith’s son, a private in the 1st Battalion Staffordshire Regiment, was killed along with two other soldiers in Iraq in July 2005.

Pte Hewett was driving a Snatch Land Rover when it was hit by a roadside bomb.

The High Court heard that since 2005, 37 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan while using the vehicles.

However, Mr Justice Mitting said the review would only cover past use.

He said the vehicles’ present and future deployment was “unimpeachable” in the courts.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Nick Harvey said: “It is shameful that time and again, this Government must be dragged to the courts because it refuses to provide the answers on equipment failures that our soldiers’ families deserve.”

“Ministers must be completely honest about how this was allowed to happen,” he added.

A full inquiry could investigate whether more heavily armoured equipment should have been procured and deployed and whether this could have avoided the deaths of the 37 soldiers.

The Snatch was originally designed not for use in desert combat, but for use in Northern Ireland as a cheap and quick way of moving troops about.