MP supports Army Major’s complaint

An Army Major who was blamed for the death of a serviceman under his command but later cleared of any wrongdoing by a coroner is making an official complaint to the Ministry of Defence, according to Crawley MP Henry Smith.

Major Jonny Bristow, of Crawley, was held responsible by the MoD for the death of Captain James Philipson who was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2006, Mr Smith said in parliament.

An inquest into Cpt Philipson’s death in 2008 exonerated Major Bristow, now retired, of any blame and identified a lack of proper equipment supplied by the MoD, Mr Smith said.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court confirmed Cpt Philipson was unlawfully killed when a unit led by Major Bristow came under fire during a rescue mission.

The Crawley MP raised the case in the Commons to Leader of the House Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lansley confirmed the MoD was in contact with Major Bristow and said his complaint was being considered at the highest level within the army’s internal complaints mechanism.

Speaking outside parliament Mr Smith said: “I raised my concerns in Parliament concerning the very disturbing case of Major Bristow and urged the need for a thorough explanation on his case and the Ministry of Defence justice system that existed at the time.

“I simply cannot understand why our brave service personnel were sent into conflict at their nation’s call without proper equipment and sufficient support for military top brass.”

An MoD spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Captain Philippson.

“The Service Inquiry report into his death recognised and paid tribute to both the tenacity and courage of Major Bristow.”