Cold injuries are divided into freezing and non-freezing injuries and include hypothermia, frost-nip, chilblains, immersion foot and frostbite. Exposure to cold can also induce Raynaud’s disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon and allergic reactions to cold. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the solicitor acting on behalf of 300 British military veterans who claim to be suffering from the condition has raised concerns over training, equipment and aftercare provided to British soldiers.
However, a legal loophole, in the form of the Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act reportedly eliminates veterans from the Falklands War, and any conflict prior to May 15, 1987, from making a claim.
The aim of the updated act was to give servicemen and their dependents the right of access to the courts in future to sue the Crown for legal fault in cases of death, personal injury or illness attributable to service.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Simon Ellis, Head of the Military Department at Hugh James Solicitors, claimed: “There are a number of injuries being reported, the first is a ‘freezing cold injury’ and non-freezing cold injuries.
“Both require cold or wet conditions for the symptoms to first appear.
“A large number of British soldiers would have been affected by the condition, with the assault on (Port) Stanley having to be enacted quickly to avoid cold injuries taking place as more soldiers were coming down with the condition.
“The impact can result in poor performance by the fighting force.”
Speaking of the work his company is doing to help veterans, Mr Ellis said: “As a firm, we have been helping military personnel for 10 years.
“Lots of veterans have come forward to us as we have been dealing with such cases, we now have over 300 people bringing cases to us.”
Mr Ellis stressed that, currently, claims can only be made by those injured after 1987, suggesting for Falklands veterans to be considered would take Government legislation to change.
The solicitor said many of his clients claim training and equipment provided by the MoD were substandard, and hence led to the condition becoming so common.
Mr Ellis claimed: “The MoD say they take reasonable steps to provide the right equipment, yet my clients suggest that is not always the case.
“I have clients who were deployed to training cold training exercises in Canada with jungle kits.
“I have seen the kit labelled hot weather equipment.”
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Speaking of the goals his clients wish to achieve, Mr Ellis ended by saying: “The best solution would be seeing the MoD following issued guidance, and seeing personnel giving the right training on all occasions, given the right kit, on all occasions, and giving the people the full protection to avoid cold injuries altogether.”
An MOD spokesperson said: “The health and wellbeing of our people is always our priority and we provide personnel with the relevant training and equipment they need when training or operating in cold conditions.
“The MOD cannot comment on individual cases.”