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Defence chiefs spend ‘£10m’ on private detectives to vet soldiers’ compensation claims

EXCLUSIVE: The Ministry of Defence has been using tax payers money to confirm if troops and veterans are really suffering from severe wounds and mental trauma since the Iraq War in 2003

Investigators were paid up to £1,750 a day to monitor around 500 serving and former personnel since 2003

Defence chiefs have spent up to £10 million spying on troops and veterans suspected of making bogus compensation claims.

The taxpayer cash has gone on hiring private detectives to check if people are lying about the extent of their wounds and mental suffering.

The Ministry of Defence says it does not have a figure for the total cost – but with some operations lasting weeks, the bill is estimated to be up to £10million. The MoD began using private investigators after compensation levels soared following the start of the war in Iraq in 2003.

Since then, it has paid out nearly £1billion. But it has refused 30,000 claims in that time – and some soldiers say they were unfairly rejected.

One lawyer said: “The MoD will go to great lengths to avoid paying out on claims, especially for veterans who may have suffered an injury a few years earlier. “In many cases, injuries weren’t properly recorded or not recorded altogether.

“I have even seen cases where a soldier’s entire medical records have disappeared. Many cases are also rejected because service personnel could not prove that the injury was caused by military training.”

One ex-soldier claimed he had suffered serious hearing loss during training after a grenade exploded near his head.

Medics agreed his hearing had been damaged but records showed that no incident was reported at the time – and a judge dismissed his case.

Since 2003 the MoD has faced over 84,000 civil compensation claims, plus a further 100,000 made by troops under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

Last year alone, it paid out more than £131 million for civil claims, with the highest award of more than £3million going to a victim of a vehicle accident.

The details were released in a Freedom of Information request.

The MoD said: “In exceptional circumstances, surveillance might be undertaken to observe the true extent of a claimant’s alleged injuries in cases where there is a reasonable suspicion about the veracity of a claim, or where medical evidence suggests that the claimant’s disability is wholly inconsistent with the injury.

“Surveillance should be of no concern to claimants with a legitimate claim and where the alleged injury has not been grossly exaggerated in an attempt to ­extract higher levels of compensation.”

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