MoD censured over Brecon Beacons SAS march deaths

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

The Ministry of Defence has been reprimanded over failures which led to the deaths of three soldiers on an SAS training exercise.

L/Cpl Edward Maher, L/Cpl Craig Roberts and Cpl James Dunsby died as a result of neglect on the 16-mile Brecon Beacons' march in 2013.

The Health and Safety Executive issued a censure, which is the highest action it can take, as the MoD cannot be prosecuted.

The MoD apologised for the failings.

A HSE statement said: "The MoD has accepted that it fell short of its obligations in this instance and has therefore accepted the censure which HSE delivered on Thursday."

Cpl Dunsby, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, L/Cpl Roberts, from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy, and L/Cpl Maher, of Winchester, Hampshire, were on a selection march in Powys on one of the hottest days of 2013 when they fell ill.

All three were on course to complete it within the allocated time but were found in three separate locations at different times.

An inquest found they died after suffering the effects of hyperthermia - or overheating.

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

A HSE investigation into their deaths found the MoD failed to plan, assess, and manage the risks associated with heat illness during the training.

Last year, coroner Louise Hunt, who ruled the men died as a result of neglect, warned there was a risk of future deaths on SAS selection marches unless action was taken.

On Thursday, an MoD spokesman said: "The Ministry of Defence accepts this censure and has apologised for the failures identified by the coroner and the Health and Safety Executive.

"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.

'Confident and committed'

"We have worked closely with the HSE since the incident in July 2013 to ensure that we can learn from their expertise and ensure that the changes we make are in line with best practice.

"We are grateful for the advice they have provided and the professionalism with which they have approached the task.

"The MoD remains confident and committed in the recruitment and testing of specialist reserve units.

"Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Corporal James Dunsby, Lance Corporal Craig Roberts and Trooper Edward Maher."

An ongoing investigation into the role of individuals in the case is being carried out by the Royal Military Police.

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