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Ben lost his legs for his country, how could they take away his wheelchair?: The most seriously injured British soldier sues MoD after pay cut and lack of care

The most seriously wounded British soldier from the war in Afghanistan is to sue the Army after claiming that defence chiefs cut his pay, put vital medical treatment in jeopardy – and failed to provide him with wheelchairs.

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 33, who suffered devastating injuries when he was blown up by the Taliban, is to bring the legal action after what his family last night described as years of broken promises and ‘deception’ by top brass over his care.

The former paratrooper was not expected to survive after losing both legs and suffering brain damage when his Land Rover hit an anti-tank mine in Helmand Province in 2006. His recovery, which has included learning to walk and talk again, has astounded doctors.

He was allowed to stay in uniform and has been held up as an example of the Army’s commitment to wounded troops.

But The Mail on Sunday  reveal the shocking story of Ben’s struggle for basic equipment and specialist care. Now, his furious family is suing the Ministry of Defence for Breach of Statutory Care.

As a serving soldier, Ben is not allowed to talk to the media. Speaking on his behalf, his mother Diane Dernie, 60, said: ‘Under an agreement reached with us and the NHS in 2016, the MoD is supposed to provide Ben’s wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and specialist medical services not available to us locally on the NHS.

‘We have learned, contrary to what the Army has told us, that charities have provided two of Ben’s wheelchairs from funds donated by the public. This was a deception on their part.

‘We cannot suffer in silence any longer. We need a long-term care plan in place for Ben now.’
Under a 2007 agreement, Ben and other severely wounded soldiers were permitted to stay in the Army. This meant that Ben continued to be paid. However, top brass have gradually cut his wages. His mother said he was earning several hundred pounds a month less than when he was blown up in 2006. This was not denied last night by the MoD.

Mrs Dernie said: ‘Issues like his pay being reduced, the Army’s failure to sign up to an agreement for Ben’s lifelong care needs and his wheelchairs being paid for by military charities, has been very distressing.’

She said that in 2013 one of Ben’s chairs, which last three years, had been provided by Help For Heroes. ‘Senior officers suggested to us that they’d provided the chair. How could the Army palm off the responsibility for providing it on to a charity? That’s not right. Then in 2016 they admitted there was no budget for wheelchairs. Ben waited 15 months for a new one which, as I understand, also came from a charity.’

Last night, the MoD did not dispute Mrs Dernie’s account.

Help for Heroes issued a statement saying it was ‘proud to be supporting Ben Parkinson and his family’. Mrs Dernie said NHS England had fulfilled its obligations and would not be included in any legal action.

Last night, former head of the Army Lord Dannatt, who initially arranged for Ben to stay in the Army after he was blown up, expressed his sadness over the dispute. He said: ‘While mistakes have been made, a lot of people in the Army have worked very hard on Ben’s behalf. I hope these issues can be settled without the need for a court case.’

An MoD spokesperson said: ‘We can assure Lance Bombardier Parkinson and his family that we are working hard to establish his new care package as quickly as we can.’

Yogi Amin from lawyers Irwin Mitchell said: ‘Mr Parkinson’s position is that the MoD breached its statutory responsibility to provide him with the care he requires.’

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