Helen Perry says Major Richard Streatfeild should have spoken sooner about lack of equipment in Afghanistan
Helen Perry will not be the only grieving mother to read Major Richard Streatfeild’s book with very conflicting emotions.
On the one hand, Perry, whose son Michael Pritchard died in a “friendly fire” incident, will feel a degree of relief that an officer has been prepared to stand up and say what she has always believed to be the truth: the army was not as well equipped for Afghanistan as it should have been.
But there will be righteous anger too; she has always maintained that Michael, 22, a lance corporal in the Royal Military police (RMP), died unnecessarily in Sangin in 2009 when a British sniper mistook him for an insurgent, and that the Ministry of Defence was not straight with her either before or during the inquest.
However, she also believes Streatfeild, her son’s commanding officer, should have come out sooner with his concerns – particularly his admission about the lack of radios, the fact his troops hadn’t been trained on the right equipment, and that the MoD did not tell the whole truth to her and the coroner during her son’s inquest.
“I have always known there were more reasons that caused my son’s death than were admitted to at the inquest.
“I read everything, all the witness statements, all the evidence in connection with my son’s death. I met with the coroner and attended meetings with the army and MoD.
“The obvious thing that always stood out was this should never have happened. Michael’s death was completely preventable and was caused by more than human error.
“It was caused through complete incompetence. Incompetent leadership which included the provision of equipment not fit for purpose or the lack of the equipment to enable our soldiers to do a proper job.”
Perry believes the fact the British sniper who shot her son had never used the night-vision sight on his rifle before is astonishing.
“What chance did my boy stand and for that matter what chance did the sniper stand? Streatfeild claims he appealed for better radios for the lads whilst he was in command in Afghanistan. All of this should have been admitted at the inquest. Why did Streatfeild not stand up for the truth and admit these issues, as he obviously knew them?
“This makes an entire farce of the inquest process. Michael died and still the army has not apologised to him for their failings. I remember during the inquest one of the riflemen approached me in private stating that the whole story was not being told and that I should really press for as much information as possible.”
From the moment her son died, Perry believes the MoD obfuscated and misled her.
“I am always mindful of the fact that its drummed into the military that they should only ‘answer the question that is put to them’ and never add any more detail than is asked of you. We struggled with this from the start.”
She believes the MoD – and Streatfeild …read more