Philippson father says Afghan deaths were 'avoidable'

PUBLISHED: 19:34 20 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

Tony Philippson

Tony Philippson

AS the death toll of British troops rises in Afghan-istan, the father of one of the first soldiers to be killed there has claimed at least 20 per cent of the deaths were avoidable . Tony Philippson, of Puddingstone Drive, St Albans, whose son James, 29,

AS the death toll of British troops rises in Afghan-istan, the father of one of the first soldiers to be killed there has claimed at least 20 per cent of the deaths were "avoidable".

Tony Philippson, of Puddingstone Drive, St Albans, whose son James, 29, died during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in June 2006, has been featured this week on TV reports and investigations into the conflict following news that over 200 soldiers have now died there.

Mr Philippson said it was becoming clear that many of those who died or the 800 seriously injured could have been saved if they had been properly equipped.

He explained: "Continuing to insist that they can carry on running around in tin-can Land Rovers is just staggering.

"These are not fighting vehicles, they are farming vehicles. It's got to stop. Gordon Brown - as recently as 2006 - cancelled orders worth £2.5 billion for helicopters so desperately needed now.

"At the same time they decided to provide SNATCH Land Rovers from Northern Ireland that had no mine protection.

"They ignored the known IED (improvised explosive devices) threat to which the US properly reacted with the provision of heavily armoured Humvees for their troops."

Mr Philippson has been a strong critic of the British involvement in Afghanistan since the death of his son, a former pupil of St Columba's College in St Albans.

An inquest into Captain Philippson's death in February 2008 heard that before his death, soldiers complained repeatedly about a lack of proper equipment - chiefly standard night vision kits and weaponry.

Assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, Andrew Walker, accused the MOD of "a breach of trust" over the death of Captain Philippson who died in a firefight in which British forces were "totally out-gunned."

n Anti-war protesters will be meeting in St Albans at midday on Saturday at the War Memorial on the corner of St Peter's Street and Hatfield Road to commemorate the soldiers who have died in the conflict.

St Albans StoptheWar will be holding a naming of the dead ceremony and will also read out the names of dead Afghan civilians to represent the thousands killed during the war.

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