Injured UK soldier loses legal case compensation

LONDON, Apr 7, 2000 -- (Reuters) A soldier who lost a leg while he was on peacekeeping duty in Bosnia with the United Nations lost a compensation claim in Britain's highest court on Thursday.

Sergeant Trevor Walker, 34, won the sympathy of five Law Lords but nothing more after they voted four to one to turn down his test-case compensation claim against the Ministry of Defense.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Slynn said he had "great sympathy" for Walker who had suffered "not only pain and loss of amenity, but substantial financial loss, which will continue."

Walker had said he was entitled to compensation under the Ministry of Defense's Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) Scheme which provides for discretionary pay-outs to members of the armed forces injured abroad as a result of violent crimes.

But the Law Lords backed earlier High Court and Appeal Court decisions in which Walker's claim had also been rejected. Slynn said that although what happened was criminal under international law it was still "military activity" for the purposes of the scheme.

"Accordingly, in my opinion the exclusion from compensation ...covers the injury to Sgt Walker," Slynn said. "It is not for the courts to consider whether the scheme with its exclusion is a good scheme or a bad scheme."

Had the claim succeeded it could have widened the scope for other UK service personnel injured on overseas duty to seek compensation.

Walker, a Royal Engineer, was injured when a Serbian tank fired on a school, which was being used as an observation post and accommodation block. After 13 operations his right leg was amputated above the knee in January 1996.

Walker remains in the army as a storeman but his hopes of a career are limited, Slynn added.

Original article