The Ministry of Defence is to be reprimanded over the deaths of three soldiers on an SAS training exercise in the Brecon Beacons.
L/Cpl Edward Maher, L/Cpl Craig Roberts and Cpl James Dunsby died as a result of neglect on the 16-mile march in 2013. The Health and Safety Executive said the MoD would be censured – the highest action the HSE can take.
The MoD “acknowledged” the censure and apologised for failings. A censure means that if it were not for crown immunity, the MoD would have faced prosecution.
The Brecon Beacons march was held on one of 2013’s hottest days.
Cpl Dunsby, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, L/Cpl Roberts, from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy, and L/Cpl Maher, of Winchester, Hampshire, were on course to complete the training within the allocated time but were found in three separate locations at different times. All three soldiers suffered the effects of hyperthermia.
The HSE investigation found the MoD failed to plan, assess, and manage risks associated with climatic illness during the training in July 2013.
In a statement, it said: “Despite its crown status, the MoD is not exempt from its responsibilities as an employer to reduce the risks to its employees as far as reasonably practicable.
“But for crown immunity, the MoD would have faced prosecution for the failings identified.” HSE head of operations Neil Craig said since the deaths, the HSE had worked with the MoD to ensure it had learned lessons and worked to reduce the risk of a similar incident in the future.
An MoD spokesman said: “We have made several improvements to reduce the risks on such exercises, and the defence safety authority is conducting a service inquiry to identify any further lessons to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.”
Last year, coroner Louise Hunt ruled the men died as a result of neglect and released 13 issues for the Ministry of Defence to address. She warned there was a risk of future deaths on SAS selection marches unless action was taken.