Friday, 13 November 2009

Anger over will search for Afghanistan hero

THE father of a woman whose fiancée was killed in Afghanistan said she was caused “further pain” when the Ministry of Defence could not find his will.

Jeff Goodridge has now launched a petition on the Downing Street website calling for an overhaul of the system to make bosses ensure wills are kept safe.

Daughter Gemma Polina had to fight to get the MoD to look for the will of Corporal Robert Deering, he said. If it was not found she would have used a previous will from 2004.

Corporal Deering was killed when going to attend a Viking personnel carrier hit by a roadside bomb on December 21 2008. As he approached a second bomb detonated, killing him.

Mr Goodridge said the search had “caused further pain”.

He said: “She bravely fought to have searches made and despite constantly being told the will didn’t exist it was eventually found ‘in a drawer’ some weeks later.

“She hadn’t seen the will or had confirmation but her partner had assured her she would be secure.”

He added: “There are reportedly 15 similar cases across all the Services of which only 3 have been resolved.

“We owe it to those that have laid down their lives for this country to ensure their last wishes are in no doubt.”

His call was backed by Solihull MP Lorely Burt.

“Several recent cases have occurred, and on at least one occasion the service will was found six weeks after it went missing.”

She added: “This is a truly unacceptable situation for Gemma and other war widows to find themselves in.

“Government must order a thorough review of the way service wills are made, lodged and tracked so that the last wishes of every serviceman or woman killed in action is honoured.

“Service wills are often written at a time of great stress and can easily be misplaced.”

The Liberal Democrat MP said: “It would be a tragedy for a bereaved partner to lose out because the will is not properly lodged and an older will is then legally enacted.

“The MOD should put in place a system to ensure that all men and women on active service have recorded and lodged their final wishes in a safe place.”