'Blunder must not happen again'

RELATIVES of an Ipswich soldier killed in a bombing blunder today claimed the British air controller would have to live with his actions forever.



RELATIVES of an Ipswich soldier killed in a bombing blunder today claimed the British air controller would have to live with his actions forever.

Privates Aaron McClure, 19, John Thrumble, 21, and Robert Foster, 19, from the Royal Anglian Vikings Regiment were killed when a F-15 jet dropped a 500lb bomb on them while trying to end a Taliban ambush of 60 soldiers.

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Investigators have now decided not prosecute a forward air traffic controller who gave the wrong co-ordinates to a US warplane, which caused the tragedy.

The McClure family are today pleased with the outcome but said the accident should not have happened in the first place.

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Allan McClure, Pte McClure's uncle, said: “To be honest the boy is going to have this on his conscience for the rest of his life. He shouldn't be punished for this because accidents do happen-that is just life.

“However accidents like this should not be happening in this day and age. There should be a system put in place to prevent things like this. We are in the 21st century and if the technology is there, why can't we use it?”

Mr McClure, of Roundwood Road, Ipswich, added that the fact the air controller will not face a court martial means the dreaded inquest into his nephew's death can take place sooner.

He said: “The only positive thing is that the board of enquiry can now carry on with what they have got to process for the inquest.

“The inquest is looming like a big dark cloud. There is going to be a lot of heartache and everything is going to come to the surface again.”

Steve Thrumble, 48, John's father, from Maldon, Essex, said: “To put the full responsibility on one guy on the ground is wholly wrong. I spoke to [Robert's mum] Lisa Foster and I know she has mixed feelings but we feel one man shouldn't be held responsible for the death of our sons.

“If the blame hangs on one man, everyone can walk away and say the system's perfect, one man failed, he made a mistake. The system needs to change.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “The independent Army Prosecuting Authority has concluded that there is no realistic prospect of conviction and decided that court martial proceedings will not be instituted in this case. Consideration is being given as to whether internal administrative action is appropriate.”

What do you think of this decision? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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