Almost 500 wounded troops seeking compensation have been spied on by private detectives hired by government lawyers, according to media reports over the weekend.
Writing for The Telegraph, journalist Sean Rayment discloses how government figures show that since 2003 MoD lawyers have hired private investigators at a rate of £1,750 a day to monitor 489 individuals claiming millions in compensation.
The claims are not for war wounds but injuries suffered through training, such as back problems, hearing damage and cold weather injuries.
Private investigators say that operations usually last weeks not months which means that if each investigation continues for five days the total bill would be more than £4 million.
Professor Hilary Meredith-Beckham, CEO of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, described the use of covert surveillance as “disgraceful behaviour by the MoD”.
Commenting in The Telegraph, she said: “Covert surveillance leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of wounded service personnel seeking compensation for injuries caused during their service. This is the wrong cohort to video.
“It’s my experience that these clients are very reticent claimants and only make a civil claim when all else has failed, such as a loss of career due to injury, low award or a long fight with the veterans agency or medical discharge with limited assistance. We have had clients who were subjected to surveillance but still won significant awards.”
Col Phil Ingram, a former military intelligence officer, added: “What the MoD is doing amounts to running a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign.”
He said: “The use of private investigators is yet another step in what is a campaign of doing everything to deny veterans any support. The MoD seems to put more effort into catching the very very few veterans who try to defraud the system than they do to support those who need real help. For those who do try and rip the system off, simple social media searches would find what they need in most cases without resorting to expensive private investigators.
“Once again, the MoD gets its priorities badly wrong: support those who need it first and deal with the problems second.”