Wales

SAS selection deaths: Soldier's parents call for justice

L/Cpl Craig Roberts Image copyright Roberts family

The law which gives the Ministry of Defence immunity from prosecution should be scrapped, the parents of a reservist who died on an SAS selection march have said.

L/Cpl Craig Roberts, L/Cpl Edward Maher and Cpl James Dunsby died as a result of neglect on the 16-mile march.

On Wednesday, the MoD apologised for failings after the Health and Safety Executive said it would be censured.

But L/Cpl Roberts' parents said they "want to see some justice done".

A censure - the highest action the HSE can take - means that if it were not for crown immunity, the MoD would have faced prosecution.

The Brecon Beacons march was held on one of 2013's hottest days.

Reacting for the first time since that ruling, Kelvin and Margaret Roberts, from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy county, said the special forces "hierarchy" was "shockingly complacent".

The couple accepted that selection had to be arduous but said correct planning and procedures should also be in place.

"If they had been so on that awful day, Craig, Eddy and James would still be alive," they said in an email to BBC Wales.

Image copyright PA/MOD
Image caption Cpl James Dunsby, L/Cpl Edward Maher and L/Cpl Craig Roberts died in July 2013

The couple now plan to be present when censure is administered, and called for "justice" as the special forces are reminded of the consequences of their actions.

L/Cpl Roberts' parents also revealed for the first time how their son's connection with the Army developed after joining the Officer Training Corps at Leicester University, where he was studying a degree in banking and finance.

Joining the Royal Anglian Regiment as a territorial reservist, he won a coveted maroon beret after passing the Reserve Parachute Regiment's Physical Training Course.

After university, L/Cpl Roberts secured a job with a City finance company but resigned so he could join his regiment on a tour of United Nations Peace Keeping Duties in Cyprus.

"He was concerned about giving his job up," Mr and Mrs Roberts said.

"But we told him he would always have his degree and that life is too short and to follow his heart. This was our proudest moment in Craig's life."

Image caption The soldiers collapsed during the march while carrying 50lbs (22kg) of equipment

It was when he returned from Cyprus that L/Cpl Roberts first started talking about the SAS, telling his parents he wanted to train with the best and the SAS were the best of the best.

"We were concerned about where he might be sent and the danger he might be put in, but it didn't occur to us to be worried about the training," Mr and Mrs Roberts said.

The couple have painted a picture of their son as fun, loving and caring.

"He loved life and took every opportunity to live it to the full... we are proud to be his parents," they said.

In a statement given after the HSE ruling, an MoD spokesman said: "We have made several improvements to reduce the risks on such exercises, and the defence safety authority is conducting a service inquiry to identify any further lessons to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy."

Last year, coroner Louise Hunt ruled the men died as a result of neglect and released 13 issues for the MoD to address.

She warned there was a risk of future deaths on SAS selection marches unless action was taken.

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