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Ex-Green Beret sues bodyguard firm for £2m over Iraq injury

By Staff Reporter

Published 17/12/2015

Dwayne Humphrey outside the Court of Appeal
Dwayne Humphrey outside the Court of Appeal

A former Royal Marine from Northern Ireland who suffered a career-ending injury when an "unfit" Iraqi interpreter was allowed on a training exercise is suing for over £2m in damages.

Dwayne Humphrey (32) was helping to carry a heavy stretcher when the "puffing, wheezing and panting" Iraqi simply gave up and dropped his end.

Mr Humphrey wrenched his shoulder so badly that his career was ended, and even now, six years later, he is still undergoing rehabilitation.

Claiming compensation, the dad, from Dromore, Co Down, says the Iraqi should never have been included in the exercise.

"He should not have been permitted to take part, as he had not demonstrated a minimum level of acceptable fitness," said his barrister, Robert Weir QC.

The court heard ex-Marine Mr Humphrey was working in lucrative close protection services in 2009 when he suffered his injury.

His job involved escorting contractors in the Project Matrix reconstruction programme in Iraq, sometimes coming under live fire.

During a fitness test, a group of workers was asked to carry a man on a stretcher in a simulated combat exercise in Tallil.

But the Iraqi was already puffing and panting by the time they had completed a 250-metre walk, said Mr Weir.

"Within 10 metres of starting the stretcher carry, the interpreter dropped his corner, wrenching Mr Humphrey's shoulder," he continued.

"The regional manager supervising the exercise told the interpreter to keep going, but he said he could not do it.

"Mr Humphrey picked up his end to complete the exercise.

"The interpreter was ordered instead to carry on alongside the stretcher, touching it, and even leant on it to assist himself."

Mr Humphrey was earning £80,000-a-year at the time, but was so badly injured that he will never return to his close protection career, said the barrister.

Speaking outside court, the former Marine said that he is still undergoing rehabilitation and continues to suffer, with his shoulder seizing up at times.

His case went before the High Court last year, when Judge Neil Bidder found that the Iraqi was not up to the minimum standard of fitness.

However, after he also found that Mr Humphrey's employer at the time, Aegis Defence Services Ltd, was not liable, the case moved to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Weir argued before Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Floyd that Mr Humphrey should have won his claim.

But for Aegis, David Platt QC said Mr Humphrey's plight was due to a "collateral injury during a legitimate exercise".

"The degree of risk was modest, it was fully acceptable and it was designed to test the fitness of the Iraqis," he said.

It was a "mundane, manual handling exercise", which could be completed at "walking speed", he told the judges. The Iraqi may not have been fit enough to pass the test, but that did not mean he was so unfit he should not have taken part at all, he added.

The judges reserved their judgment until a later date.

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