Sergeant Rick Clements suffered devastating injuries when he stepped on a Taliban bomb while leading a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan. He lost both legs, severely damaged an arm, suffered terrible internal injuries and was told that he could never have children or a sex life.
In a four-page letter from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, Ministry of Defence officials told him, in graphic detail, exactly how much compensation he was entitled to for each injury, and said he should be paid £633,025.
But, wrote an anonymous civil servant, he would receive only £575,000. “We have paid you this amount because the scheme rules say that where more than one injury is sustained in one incident, the total amount shall not exceed the amount payable under tariff 1,” the letter said.
I am almost lost for words that this should happen at all. But that some faceless bureaucrat, safe behind his Whitehall desk, can – firstly – be so insensitive to the enormity of Rick Clements’ injuries in the pursuit of his country’s lunatic adventure in Afghanistan and -secondly – through a lack of humanity or gumption or both, go on to compound the insult by not insisting that these petty, penny-pinching rules be waived in the soldier’s case, is a clear indication of the moral bankruptcy in our governing class.
Compare Rick Clements’ experience with this:
The government will announce today that it will pay millions of pounds in compensation to former Guantánamo Bay detainees following weeks of negotiations between lawyers for the government and the former prisoners.
At least one of the detainees was rumoured to be receiving in the region of £1.5 million which does not strike me as an unreasonable amount to pay to somebody who has been falsely incarcerated for so long a period. But we have lost all sense of proportion if we believe that the loss of freedom for 7 years or so is worth three times what we pay to condemn a young man to a lifetime of major disability: bear in mind that Rick Clements is expected to fund his care from this sum.
Rick Clements’ fiancee puts it thus:
“Rick will never have a normal life. He can’t have kids, he can’t have sex again, he can’t have a normal relationship. If he ever can walk again, it won’t be for more than an hour a day.
“I can’t see how they can justify the amount he has been given. He has given everything to his country and the government won’t even pay the amount he is entitled to. It makes me very angry.
“No amount of money can compensate Rick for what he’s lost but surely they can do better than this. It’s disgusting, it’s unfair.
“The people who make these decisions should come out and see the type of injuries soldier’s like Rick have. No one has come to see us.”